The transportation of hazardous materials domestically and internationally carries inherent risks that demand careful management from the packaging phase all the way through to delivery.

In the UK, stringent regulations and safety measures govern the transportation of dangerous goods by roads, rail and air to ensure the protection of public safety, the environment and the smooth flow of commerce.

Below, we’ll highlight the key concepts, regulations and best practices that every business in this field must be well across. Whether you are a consignor or simply curious about this crucial aspect of modern logistics, this article aims to provide you with essential insights to navigate the complexities and responsibilities of transporting dangerous goods in the UK and overseas.

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Safely transporting dangerous goods

Transporting dangerous goods safely is critical to protect people, property and the environment. Close compliance with all applicable safety regulations ensures that hazardous materials (from chemicals and gases to corrosives and flammable liquids) are handled, packed, stored and transported in a manner that minimises risks to the greatest extent possible.

Mistakes when shipping dangerous goods can result in catastrophic outcomes. Explosions, fires, toxic exposures and environmental contamination are some of the potential hazards associated with mishandling hazardous cargo during transportation.

Having strong protocols, that encompass proper packaging, declarations and labelling to the construction of vehicles, helps prevent accidents, leaks, spills or any unforeseen events that could lead to negative consequences.

Overview of transportation of dangerous goods regulations

The transportation of dangerous goods within and from the UK is governed by strict domestic and international regulations to ensure the safe handling, storage and movement of hazardous cargo. These regulations are designed to minimise the risks associated with the transportation of dangerous goods and to protect public health, property and the environment. It’s important to work with a logistics partner that carries all required accreditations and strictly follows regulations to ensure your consignments run smoothly.

The main regulations applicable in the UK include:

The International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail, which covers the transport of dangerous goods by rail.

IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR)

The IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations are industry standard regulations for the carriage of dangerous goods by air. UK authorities expect organisations to have received specialised training before shipping dangerous goods by air.

Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR)

ADR is an international treaty that governs the transport of hazardous cargo by road. With the exception of most highly dangerous goods, other dangerous goods can be transported internationally by road as long as there is compliance with the provisions of the ADR.

Until January 2021, the Agreement was known as a European Agreement. This was subsequently removed to eliminate the impression that only European states could accede to the treaty.

Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009

CDG 2009 is a domestic law passed in the UK that requires the carriage of dangerous goods to be in compliance with the ADR.

It expressly recognises that the purpose of ADR is to protect persons, property and the environment from the risks of dangerous goods. CDG 2009 also prohibits the carriage of goods by road other than in compliance with ADR.

 Who governs the carriage of dangerous goods shipping?

Air

The transport of dangerous goods by air is regulated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the International Air Transport Association.

The CAA conducts inspections and audits to ensure that organisations involved in transporting dangerous goods are compliant with safety and hazardous goods regulations. This includes verifying proper training for personnel, appropriate packaging as well as accurate documentation.

The CAA also has the job to investigate and prosecute breaches of aviation safety rules, including rules relating to dangerous cargo. For example, from 2012 to 2013, the CAA prosecuted a packing company for unsafely shipping dangerous goods.

Road

In the UK, the safe and secure transportation of dangerous goods by road is governed and enforced by:

  • Police forces

These organisations work together in order to ensure the safe transport of hazardous materials on the UK’s roads, which includes:

  • Conducting roadside checks
  • Visiting the premises of dutyholders
  • Assessing organisations’ management systems
  • Checking vehicles on premises
Learn more about our hazardous goods transport service here

Classification of dangerous goods

The classification of dangerous goods is contained in both the ADR and the IATA regulations. When shipping goods, the consignor is required to assign a “proper shipping name” and add the applicable UN number to the goods.

It is critical that all goods are labelled correctly, and it is worth consulting a specialist dangerous goods courier to make sure that each and every cargo item complies with the applicable regulations.

Below we’ve outlined each of the various classes of dangerous goods:

UN Class Dangerous GoodsClassification (and division)
Class 1 ExplosivesExplosive (divs 1.1-1.6)
Class 2 GasesFlammable gas (div 2.1)

Non-flammable, non-toxic gas (div 2.2)

Toxic gas (div 2.3)

Class 3 Flammable liquidFlammable liquid
Class 4 Flammable solidsFlammable solid (div 4.1)

Spontaneously combustible substances (div 4.2)

Substance which in contact with water emits flammable gas (div 4.3)

Class 5 Oxidising substancesOxidising substance (div 5.1)

Organic peroxide (div 5.2.)

Class 6 Toxic substancesToxic substance (div 6.1)

Infectious substance (div 6.2)

Class 7 Radioactive materialRadioactive material
Class 8 Corrosive substanceCorrosive substance
Class 9 Miscellaneous dangerous goodsMiscellaneous goods

Packaging dangerous goods for transport

If you are transporting dangerous goods, they must be placed in packaging that has been designed and built according to UN specification standards (including placing the applicable dangerous goods symbol on the packaging).

The packaging will need to be able to pass certain practical tests and be so-called “type-approved” or “UN certified”. You will usually see the packaging marked with a UN logo with codes.

You can read more about packaging requirements published by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive here: Packaging | HSE.

Jag Express are specialists in hazardous goods transport packaging

What are the penalties for transporting dangerous goods incorrectly?

Failure to carry dangerous goods in compliance with the relevant regulations can lead to:

  • Improvement notices
  • Prohibition notices
  • Fines
  • Imprisonment (in the worst cases)

In 2015, two companies were fined £20,000 each (as well as costs of £3,438 and a £120 victim surcharge) for failing to comply with CDG 2009. These companies had failed to tighten and securely stack jerry cans full of potassium hydroxide. These jerricans toppled over and leaked, leading to 85 litres of the chemical being lost on a journey.

Things to remember when transporting dangerous goods

1. Know and segregate your shipment

We cannot underestimate the importance of making sure that incompatible categories of hazardous materials do not make contact with one another.

Separating incompatible substances prevents potential reactions that could lead to leaks, fires, or even explosions.

There are a variety of goods that need to be stored separately, and chemicals that should be shipped in completely different vehicles.

2. Get your documentation in order

Proper documentation is a cornerstone of safe transport – whether it’s happening by air, road or rail.

This includes essential paperwork such as Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for each material you want to transport.

These documents provide critical information about the hazards and handling procedures for each substance. It is invaluable for emergency response and ensures carriers are well-informed. If you need help, speak to an expert.

3. Know your flash points

Familiarise yourself with the flash points of flammable liquids – the lowest temperature at which their vapors can ignite.

This knowledge helps in setting appropriate conditions during transit, minimising the risk of ignition.

4. Know your storage temperatures

Different dangerous goods have specific temperature requirements to prevent degradation or hazardous reactions.

Maintaining proper storage temperatures for hazardous cargo such as peroxide is essential to ensure the stability of the materials throughout transportation.

5. Get guidance from the experts

When dealing with the carriage of dangerous goods, it’s important to collaborate with professionals who specialise in hazardous materials transportation.

At Jag Express, we are experts in the transport of dangerous goods and can provide invaluable insights into the applicable regulations, proper handling procedures and required documentation.

Jag Express - specialists in hazardous goods transport

Need help with the transportation of dangerous goods?

There is a lot to consider when transporting hazardous cargo within the United Kingdom.  Following the relevant regulation is the cornerstone of ensuring the safe and secure transportation of hazardous materials

If you require expert assistance in navigating the complexities of transporting your dangerous goods, look no further. Jag Express are highly experienced when it comes to shipping dangerous goods and upholding the highest standards of safety and compliance in hazardous material transportation.

With a team of well-trained professionals and a wealth of experience in the industry, we are fully equipped to handle the unique challenges posed by dangerous goods transportation. The safety and security of your material is our top priority, and we ensure that every step of the process adheres to the appropriate regulations and guidelines.

Don’t compromise on the safety of your shipments—get in touch with us today to discuss your transportation needs and let us provide you with a reliable, efficient, and secure solution for your dangerous goods transportation requirements.

Speak to an expert at Jag Express today