Ever heard of a $32,000 aerosol can of glass cleaner? You might own one if you attempt to ship janitorial and sanitation products without the right declarations, labels, packaging, markings and training in place.
Many cleaning products contain chemicals or agents that can pose safety and health risks in transit. For that reason they're subject to intense regulatory scrutiny and potentially dire consequences for the business that contracted to ship them. In one recent case, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) levied a $63,000 fine on a company for putting into transportation a corrosive liquid product without appropriate documentation, packaging or markings.
"It's extremely important to know exactly what's in the products you're planning to ship," says Rita Burke, UPS dangerous goods manager. "It's equally important that your employees are trained in what can and cannot be shipped safely."
Burke adds that, due to the potential safety issues, shipping companies typically require businesses to enter into a contract that clearly defines each parties' responsibilities for hazardous or dangerous contents.
Generally speaking, some of the words signaling a hazardous material or dangerous goods product include corrosive, flammable, compressed gas, combustible, caustic and acidic, among others. However, the lines can seem unclear. It's possible that a product may be considered hazardous as air cargo but not hazardous - or deemed less hazardous - when transported by highway or ocean. Further, there are multiple classifications that group product types such as gases, flammable liquids, corrosives and so on.
Laws, rules and guidelines for shipping hazardous materials within or outside of the United States come from a number of different sources. Burke suggests that businesses study information made available by the FAA's Office on Hazardous Materials Safety and the Federal Carrier Motor Safety Administration's overview of the requirements for transporting hazardous materials by highway.
Burke also recommends that businesses look toward their logistics providers for guidance. "UPS offers very detailed information in our "Guide for Shipping Ground and Air Hazardous Materials" on ups.com. We also offer training seminars in many locations across the country."
UPS standard box or carton packaging guidelines call for use of a rigid box with intact flaps that is marked clearly with one complete delivery and return address. All items inside should be wrapped individually, separated by dividers and have adequate cushioning.
For hazardous materials, federal law requires use of packaging that "must be sufficient to ensure containment of the material throughout the entire transportation cycle." In most cases, hazardous materials must be packaged in "performance packaging." Such packages have distinct United Nations (U.N.) markings on the packaging components and can be recognized by their unique identification numbers. Depending on the hazard class, this consists of inner receptacles, cushioning and absorbent materials, and an outer packaging that has been designed, manufactured and certified for the containment of specific hazardous materials and packing groups. Selected packaging systems must be tested as designed and shipped as tested. UPS has imposed additional requirements for packaging of hazardous goods.
Learn more about shipping with UPS.
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