Hazardous materials are more common in the US than you may have thought, with over 4.5 million facilities currently manufacturing or storing them. These facilities range from major industrial facilities to local garden supply stores.

Given their obvious risk to people and the environment, hazardous chemicals need to be handled with extreme care, especially during transportation. In today’s post, we give you tips on safely transporting chemicals.

What Are Hazardous Materials?

A hazardous material refers to any substance in a form or quantity that poses a reasonable risk to a person’s or community’s health, the environment, or property. A substance may be considered hazardous if it is flammable, corrosive, toxic, or reactive.

Generally, hazardous materials are grouped into classes, ranging from Class 1 (explosives) to Class 9 (miscellaneous dangerous goods).

How To Safely Transport Hazardous Materials

For companies that regularly work with aggressive chemicals or other hazardous substances, it’s essential to have measures in place for their safe storage and transportation. Besides investing in online SDS management, here are seven practical ways to ensure safe hazardous material storage and transportation.

Never Transport Hazardous Chemicals With Food

One of the worst mistakes you can make is to use the same shipment containers for various cargo types. If you’ve already tagged a tank container to transport hazardous materials, don’t use it for food. It’s against the regulations of the FDA that call for the sanitary transportation of food.

The ultimate goal here is to avoid endangering the health of the people who ultimately consume food transported in these shipment containers.

Segregate Hazardous Chemicals During Transportation

If you deal with different classes of dangerous goods, avoid transporting or storing incompatible goods together. You want to steer clear of incompatible goods mixing in case of a spill. This could lead to a fire or an explosion.

Ensure any flammable substances are kept in the right containers during transportation. Maintain a safe distance between these containers and ignition sources to reduce the risk.

So, how do you know which hazardous goods to stow together and which to keep separate? Typically, you can transport hazardous goods of the same class together unless there are known chemical reactions. Strong alkali products are incompatible with strong acids and must thus be kept separate.

Some explosives and radioactive materials are generally considered incompatible with all other hazardous materials. Thus, they should be kept separate during transportation.

Ensure Proper Loading and Securing

Another sure way to eliminate risks when transporting hazardous materials is to secure containers against movement properly. Once you’ve loaded the containers, brace them well to make sure they can’t fall during transportation.

Be sure to avoid direct pressure on the doors of the trucks. Fill void spaces between containers to minimize movement.

It’s also your responsibility to use top-quality materials for securing. Finally, be sure to secure the doors and lock and seal them.

Maintain Proper Records of the Materials You’re Transporting

No hazardous materials should leave your facility without the right shipping papers. These papers will be required for inspection during shipping.

Be sure to provide clearly written emergency instructions in case something unexpected happens during the transportation.  Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on your safety data sheets regarding chemical storage and transportation.

Check Whether You Have the Appropriate Signs and Labeling

All hazardous materials need proper labeling. The idea is to avert health and safety issues.

So, what exactly does a proper warning label contain? The label must first reveal the name of the substance, as well as its manufacturer. There should also be a chemical code number alongside a danger level that contains the word “Warning,” “Danger,” or “Caution.”

Where the chemical is deemed highly toxic, the label should note it as poisonous. You should also include any physical hazards associated with the chemical on the label as well, including whether the material is explosive, flammable, or corrosive.

Have a Corrosion Control Method Technique

Given how corrosive and damaging most hazardous substances are, you need to have a method to protect the vehicles you use to transport them. One of the ways to do so is by using polymeric linings.

Besides linings, you can also include concrete tank pads. These can help with preserving the integrity of the areas underneath and around tanks.

Consider using a containment system to prevent hazardous materials from escaping. That can be a drip tray or bund. Whichever storage area you choose, ensure that it can effectively withstand any splashes, spills, and tank leaks from corrosive chemical exposures.

Always Have an Emergency Team of Experts

Even with the best-laid plans, the unexpected can still happen. Chances are you’ll experience emergency leaks from time to time.

One of the best ways to deal with the unexpected is to have a team of specialists you can alert. At the first sign of trouble, communicate to these experts to evaluate the risks of the emergency and the potential impact it can cause. This team of experts may also be able to take measures to deal with the problem before it becomes a catastrophe.

Transporting Hazardous Materials Safely Shouldn’t Be a Hassle

The transportation of hazardous materials is an important part of the entire chemical supply chain. As long as you deal with these substances, it’s your responsibility to develop ways to get the job done with as minimal risk to people and the environment as possible. The guidelines we’ve laid out in this post can help you do just that.

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