Hazmat Packaging Specs
Shippers of Hazardous Materials (or Dangerous Goods) know that the packaging they use has to meet certain specifications and pass standard tests before it can be considered appropriate for the hazardous shipment. Most training classes will explain that the package design must go through various tests to simulate conditions they may encounter during transport.
I started to wonder if users of the packaging really understand the conditions these designs are put through. No, it doesn’t look like this…
… but a few of the tests are quite rigorous! Below are some examples.
- Drop Test – Drop testing is done on five test samples. The samples are prepared as they are intended to be used by a shipper. Each sample is dropped on a different surface of the package (top, bottom, long side, short side, and corner) from a height between 2.9 and 5.9 feet (0.8 – 1.8 meters), depending on the packing group of the materials that are going to be authorized. Any release of sample material during any of the drops is considered a failure.
- Stack Test – Stack testing is done on three test samples. The samples are subjected to force that is equivalent to the weight of identical packages stacked to 3 meters. The samples must withstand the weight for 24 hours without leaking or showing any damage or distortion that could reduce its strength or cause instability in stacks during transportation.
- Puncture Test (required for Category A Infectious Substances Packaging) – Puncture testing is done on two test samples. Depending on the gross weight of the samples, they are either dropped onto a steel cylindrical rod, or have a steel cylindrical rod (weighing at least 7 kg) dropped onto them. Any leakage from the primary receptacle is considered a failure.
These tests should be carried out by a qualified technician who follows proper protocols and methods. A polar bear is not required, but they sure do like to test the limits of plastic drums!
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*Special thanks to Luna, one of the resident polar bears at the Buffalo Zoo for demonstrating how not to test packaging. No polar bears were harmed in the making of this blog … but I can’t say the same for the drum.