Single Packaging
What About Cobb … Testing?

Splash drops of water on cardboard

What is Cobb Testing?

If you previously read my blog Anatomy of A box, you learned about the various components that make up a corrugated box. The construction of a box can become even more complicated for dangerous goods. Not only do you need to provide strong, durable corrugated boxes that can withstand drops and movement during transportation, but they must also be able to withstand various weather conditions including snow and rain.

How can box manufacturers and test labs ensure that dangerous goods packaging is safe to use when it gets wet? This is where the Cobb test comes in handy. This test helps determine the quantity of water that can be absorbed by the surface of paper or board in a given time. In this case, the less water that absorbs into the corrugated, the better. In fact as per § 178.516 of CFR 49 as well as TP 14850 7.8 this test is a requirement.

Cobb Testing

Why Cobb Testing?

Cobb tests are performed, because paper and fiberboard tend to attract and hold water molecules from the surrounding environment. The Cobb test is essential as it tests the ability of the paper to resist the penetration of water and quantity of water absorbed by Continue Reading…

Single Packaging
Latin, Vince Lombardi, & Packaging Selection

Man preparing shipment

Practice Makes Perfect

Most of us have heard the phrase, “Practice makes perfect”. I did when learning my multiplication tables. Others hear it in reference to playing sports. What is interesting is the phrase originates from the 1500’s. In Latin, it is ‘Uses promptos facit‘ which translates to ‘use makes mastery’. Vince Lombardi, American football player and coach, said it differently. For him, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect” was the correct way to say it. The intent is the same. The only way to get batter at something is to practice it.

So how does that relate to making the correct packaging selection for shipments of hazardous materials? A shipper should practice using the regulation and the UN Specification Markings together before making any decisions on packaging. When working with clients in transportation training sessions I always remind participants that packaging is two-fold. You have to use what the regulations say and what the marking on your packaging allows. Let’s do a practice problem to show what I mean.

Steel Drum MT0M502

Practice Problems:

Problem #1:

Can a shipper put 16 Liters of UN1114 Benzene into a steel drum with a non-removable head for a US Ground shipment using 49 CFR? Benzene has a specific gravity of 0.876 Continue Reading…

Bear awareness icon
Hazmat Packaging Bears Rigorous Testing

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 Continue Reading…
Toxic
The Zika Virus — Public Health Crisis and Regulatory Puzzle

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 Continue Reading…

When an Ordinary Box Isn’t so Ordinary After All (HazMat Box)

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!

  1. 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 Continue Reading…
Single Packaging
The Importance of Packing Instructions

Simon Says . . . It’s All About Following Directions

An experienced shipper knows that in order to be compliant for HazMat or Dangerous Goods shipping, packaging designs have to be subjected to performance testing. In fact, this should be something that even new shippers learn during their training. This testing is meant to simulate conditions that the package could encounter during typical transport operations.

Did you know that there are requirements to be followed even after the testing is complete and the packaging is marked as meeting the appropriate specifications? In a game of Simon Says, all players must do whatever Simon says. Packaging manufacturers are like Simon, they must provide proper instructions to customers so that they are able to assemble and use the packaging correctly. The packaging must be assembled in the same manner as it was during the testing process. If not, the shipment could be considered non-compliant.

The certification provided for the packaging is only good for the exact configuration that was tested. This is especially critical for combination packagings which can have numerous parts necessary to make a complete package. Making even minor changes to that configuration means there is no way to know for sure if it Continue Reading…

Transport Canada Unveils Proposed Amendment to Safety Standards

On November 16, Transport Canada published proposed changes to certain safety standards in the Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Regulations. These changes can be found in Canada Gazette I, and may be accessed online at http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2013/2013-11-16/html/reg5-eng.html.

It may appear at first that these are merely technical changes and updates. Transport Canada says that the main reason for the amendment is that some of the standards need their references updated to the most current version, and some of them need to be introduced for the first time. However, if the amendment is finalized in Gazette II, some of the implications are significant for Canadian shippers and carriers.

The principle points behind this amendment are:

  1. Several new standards must be introduced in order to enhance compliance with the UN Recommendations in their current form. This means including standards for packagings such as cylinders (which currently have a TC (Transport Canada) specification), and UN-specification portable tanks. This will ensure that Canadians are using the most harmonized, as  well as the most modern, packaging standards.
  2. A number of the existing standards referenced in TDG are not referenced in the most current version. For example, the current regulation has a reference for CSA Standard B339-08, “Cylinders, spheres, and tubes for the transportation of Continue Reading…
Shipping Something Less Familiar — Bromine

What does one do when the need to ship something outside the realm of “ordinary” arises?

Last month I had to ship a couple of small bottles of bromine for a client. It was more involved than I originally expected.  Before even getting close to the bottle, I wanted to know what was so bad about it. Why is bromine hazardous?

I read through the MSDS to get an idea of what I was about to work with. This shipment was going by ocean so I also had a look at the IMDG code. According to IMDG, it has an extremely irritating odour, is a powerful oxidant, and is highly corrosive to most metals. Also, it is toxic if swallowed, by skin contact or by inhalation. Furthermore, it can cause burns to skin, eyes and mucous membranes. To say the least, it is pretty nasty stuff.

Here is the classification:
UN 1744, BROMINE, CLASS 8(6.1), PG I

As you can see, it is Packing Group I material. I went to IMDG packing instruction P804 to see what was required for packaging and found that it read completely different than the normal P001 and P002 that one frequently sees. This instruction lists four possible ways that this material can be packaged, Continue Reading…

ICC Attends 33rd Annual DGAC Conference

This week, ICC attended the 33rd Annual Conference and Exposition of the Dangerous Goods Advisory Committee (DGAC), one of the largest trade associations for organizations involved in dangerous goods. The conference, which was held in Tampa, Florida, was well attended by shippers and carriers, as well as companies providing services such as emergency response. ICC’s own Karrie Monette-Ishmael and Barbara Foster were among the exhibitors showing their latest products and services.

The program started with a keynote address from Tim Butters, the Deputy Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). He described how PHMSA was “trying to reopen lines of communication with industry,” that may have been damaged in recent years, and discussed some of their important work on safety and security.

The program itself provided many informative and challenging sessions. Workshops gave a hands-on look at such diverse topics as writing closure instructions for packaging, and compatibility issues between chemicals and packaging. Regulators from North America and Europe gave overviews of issues and upcoming changes to the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, the Hazardous Materials Regulations of 49 CFR, and other related regulations. Speakers from industry were present to give insight into topics such as classification Continue Reading…

ERAP

Some questions for you to ponder regarding ERAPs:

  • does your company have an emergency response assistance plan (ERAP)?
  • has it been reviewed by Transport Canada?
  • do you use a third party provider to provide the technical information?
  • do you use a third party provider to respond to the incident site for remediation?

If you are using a third party for incident response, have you:

  • recently audited the provider?
  • ensured that they have the proper tools to handle your products?
  • provided training on your products?
  • ensured that they have the proper equipment, i.e. UN specification packaging, correct specification tankage, hoses, couplings, etc.?
  • checked that they are following the closure instructions for the UN specification packaging?
  • checked to make sure that they are providing the right technical information?
  • checked to make sure that they can respond to wherever the incident is?

Keep in mind that when there is a dangerous goods incident involving an ERAP, it is the ERAP holder who is held responsible for the emergency response.

Are YOU prepared for any emergency?