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 Continue Reading…
On June 1, 2016, Transport Canada issued an amendment to the “Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations” (TDG) under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act. This amendment substantially revises the requirements for reporting spills of dangerous goods during transportation. It also addresses changes to air shipment of lithium ion batteries and makes various minor corrections and changes. The “Reporting Requirements and International Restrictions on Lithium Batteries Amendment” reflects concerns that the previous requirements for reporting spills, called “accidental releases,” was inefficient and didn’t allow the reporting parties to evaluate the risk to the public when deciding if a release had to be reported.
Changes to Reporting – Surface Transport
The section on reporting accidental releases, Part 8, called “Accidental Release and Imminent Accidental Release Report Requirements,” has been removed from the regulations and replaced with a new Part 8 titled simply “Reporting Requirements”.
First, the amendment removes the definitions for “accidental releases” and “anticipated accidental releases” and replaced them with definitions for “releases” and “anticipated releases”. This means that the reporting requirements will now cover intended releases as well as those that occur by accident.
Next, Transport Canada has adjusted the quantities of a release that would trigger reporting. For road, rail and water transport, these changes include:
- The limit is lowered to any amount for Class 1, Explosives; Class 2, Compressed Gases; Classes 3, 4, 5, 6.1, or 8, in Continue Reading…
On April 28, 2016, Transport Canada issued its latest Protective Direction. This Direction, number 36, will replace a previous one, Protective Direction 32, with more detailed instructions for rail carriers.
Protective Directions are rules that are not included in Canada’s Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDG). Instead, they are announced by Transport Canada, and are published on their website. Usually, these directives are used when Transport Canada believes it’s important to bring in a new rule quickly in order to protect the public. Since amending the regulations can take months or longer, Part 13 of TDG allows them to use this method to respond to important issues with appropriate speed.
Protective Direction 36 requires Canadian Class I rail carriers to either publish information on the carrier’s website, or provide information to designated Emergency Planning Officials (EPOs) of each jurisdiction through which the carrier transports dangerous goods. This information includes:
- Aggregate information on the nature and volume of dangerous goods that the rail carrier transported by railway car through the last calendar year (broken down by quarter);
- The number of unit trains loaded with dangerous goods operated in the jurisdiction in the last year (again, broken down by quarter); and
- The percentage of railway cars carrying dangerous goods that were operated by the rail carrier through the jurisdiction in the last calendar year.
Rail carriers transporting dangerous goods by railway Continue Reading…
Zika virus – the name itself sounds exotic and dangerous. It is believed to be a serious risk for pregnant women. And it’s due to arrive in North America. Just how great a danger is this virus, and how should research and medical facilities prepare for the regulatory burden?
First of all, Zika is not a new virus. It has been known since the 1950s in equatorial Africa and Asia, but only recently has it appeared to migrate to new territories, including South and Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico. It is primarily a mosquito-borne illness, transmitted by the Aedes genus of mosquitos. Possibly climate change has increased the populations of these mosquitos in the areas where Zika is spreading. Aedes mosquitos are found in some parts of the U.S., and although they are not currently believed to be in Canada, they may spread as the climate warms. Person-to-person transmission by body fluids is possible, but this would be relatively rare compared to the mosquito vector.
Zika is classed in the Flaviviridae family of viruses, along with dengue fever, West Nile virus and the notoriously dangerous yellow fever. However, compared to these, Zika is usually a mild affliction. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only one in five persons infected with the virus shows any symptoms at all. For those who do fall ill, the symptoms Continue Reading…
One of the most common tests for determining hazard classification is the flash point. This humble piece of physical information is defined in various ways in various regulations, but generally is the lowest temperature at which the vapours from a flammable liquid will ignite near the surface of the liquid, or in a test vessel. This can be critical for safety, because this temperature will be the lowest possible for the liquid to cause a flash fire if released or spilled. If the material can be handled and transported at temperatures lower than the flash point, the fire risk will be much smaller.
The flash point has become the standard test for classifying flammable liquids. It’s used by the U.S. OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Act) and HMR (Hazardous Materials Regulations) classification systems, as well as Canada’s WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) and TDG (Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations).
Obtaining a flash point on a new product is usually easy enough. Many laboratories, particularly those that deal with petrochemicals, can perform the test for a reasonable charge. If your company has too many products to make outsourcing practicable, a flash point tester itself is comparatively low cost (as scientific apparatus goes), and a trained person can obtain data quickly and efficiently. However, both of these options do cost money. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a Continue Reading…
3 Little Letters, 1 Short Phrase
The DG/HazMat world occasionally encounters confusion when there’s a need to refer to the “N.O.S.” aspect of a shipping name. The abbreviation is used in the proper shipping name of mixtures that have a potential variety of hazardous ingredients and/or don’t have a more specific, applicable name in the UN list.
The principal is that if the shipping name preceding the N.O.S. doesn’t contain sufficient details on the hazardous ingredient, then a technical name must be included in brackets following the N.O.S. as part of the proper shipping name. In some cases (i.e. US shipments) more than one technical name may need to be shown if there is more than one ingredient contributing to the hazard.
For example, in a mixture containing both ethanol and isopropanol (ethyl & isopropyl alcohols) along with other ingredients; in sufficient concentration to be classed as a flammable liquid; the proper shipping description would be “UN1993, Flammable Liquid, N.O.S. (ethanol)” internationally, and “UN1993, Flammable Liquid, N.O.S. (ethanol, isopropanol)” in the US.
Similarly UN numbers with a subsidiary class would also have to list the ingredient, if different, resulting in the subsidiary hazard.
The US convention is allowed by the phrasing of “at least the most hazardous” or similar wording in other modal/national regulations.
The term “technical name” is defined in the various regulations, but the common theme is that it Continue Reading…
We have all used a fiberboard (or cardboard as most people call it) box to ship something. It may have been a box of gifts for a friend or family member, or a package of merchandise for a client at work. Most of the time, you probably didn’t give much thought to the box other than to make sure it was sturdy enough and big enough to contain what you were shipping. For these typical kinds of shipments, that ordinary box will do just fine. HazMat (or dangerous goods) shipments, however, aren’t ordinary and neither is the box that they need to be shipped in.
The packaging industry is a science in itself, with ever evolving processes, techniques, materials, treatments, and regulations. HazMat packaging is a specialized area of packaging technology, and it has some very specific requirements that must be followed. Even though a HazMat box may look identical to a standard shipping carton, there are some significant “behind the scenes” differences between them!
- Material matters! When dealing with HazMat boxes, there are specific tolerances for manufacturing. The combination of materials used to make up the fiberboard has very little wiggle room once the design has been approved and certified. Changes in the material may invalidate the certification and make the boxes non-compliant.
- Proven performance! HazMat boxes have to be put to the test before they can be Continue Reading…
As a frequent traveler, for both business and pleasure, I am often passing though airport security checkpoints before whisking off to my final destination. Because of the industry I am in, I always seem to notice things that most travelers don’t. Most passengers tend to know the rules regarding carry on liquids. They usually know that they need to take off shoes and remove laptops from bags before x-ray screening. While waiting in line, I start thinking about how many of them really understand how many hazardous materials we may be taking on vacation with us and that there are additional rules for carrying them on aircraft.
During my most recent trip, I noticed a sign while in the queue for the security checkpoint at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. It seemed odd to me that they would choose to display this sign in a passenger area. While the information provided on the sign is accurate and useful, it is not appropriate for the audience it is reaching. Those passengers who actually stop to read the sign will likely think it does not apply to them because they are not traveling with packages as pictured. In my opinion, a more effective sign for this location would warn that lithium batteries that are used with personal electronics can start fires if they are dropped or improperly charged. Showing photos of Continue Reading…
Every year around this time a feeling of nostalgia gets me. As soon as the first sign about “back to school” shows up in a store or on TV, I am transported to my previous life. For over 10 years I taught high school science. Each year there were plans to make, supplies to buy, and students to meet. Thinking on it now from the perspective of a safety professional, it is amazing the chemical hazards present in an everyday school situation.
Being a science teacher it was easy to engage students in their own learning. Usually, all it took was setting up some demonstrations of some basic chemical reactions and everyone was read to go. A few of the more common ones were called Colored Fire, Sugar Snake, and Elephant’s Toothpaste. In each one of these, hazardous chemicals are used to make the reaction. For the Colored Fire, alcohol solutions of various metals are used. The Sugar Snake involves the use of concentrated sulfuric acid. In Elephant’s toothpaste a hydrogen peroxide solution is used. As a teacher you always had to model good safety habits including the proper personal protective equipment and keep students far enough away for the actual demonstration to be safe.
Elsewhere in the school building there were other hazardous chemicals. Consider the toner in the copy room. Also, the Custodial department Continue Reading…
Like most regulations based on the UN Recommendations for the Transport of Dangerous Goods, Canada’s “Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations” (TDG) includes a number of exemptions. These provide easier and more cost-effective ways for shipping low-risk materials. However, each exemption needs to be carefully studied. If you don’t comply with all the requirements, you are not entitled to any part of the exemption.
One of the most misunderstood exemptions in TDG is found in section 1.16, the “500 Kilogram Exemption.” The provisions in this section originated in a long-ago series of permits intended to make shipment of small quantities of dangerous goods easier. Over the years, changes to this section have reduced its effectiveness; it still may be a helpful exemption in certain specific cases, but it must be used appropriately.
The first myth about the 500 kilogram exemption is that it is a total exemption from all requirements of TDG. This is far from the truth. At best, the exemption relieves the shipper from Part 3 (Documentation), Part 4 (Dangerous Goods Safety Marks) and Part 5 (Means of Containment). All other requirements of TDG will still apply. This includes, for example, the requirement that the carrier and all handlers must be TDG-certified. At one point, receivers were exempted from Part 6, Training, but this relief was removed in an amendment several years ago.
Obviously, the exemption only applies Continue Reading…