Too many businesses underestimate the caution required in storing and transporting dangerous goods.
Dangerous goods come in many shapes and sizes: from those that require hazmat suits, like radioactive and infectious materials, to seemingly innocuous items, like medicines and cleaning products.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a business that doesn't handle some sort of dangerous goods. But too many businesses underestimate the dangers associated with storing and transporting these goods and other hazardous materials.
In fact, up to 40 per cent of shippers are unaware of regulations governing the transportation of dangerous goods, a recent survey has found.
And that has big ramifications for your business' supply chain and liabilities.
Here we take a look at best practice when dealing with dangerous goods, and how you can prepare yourself for a worst-case scenario.
The nine classes of dangerous goods
You get ready for work in the morning – spray on some deodorant, add a touch of perfume or cologne, grab your mobile phone, leave the house, unlock your car and open the garage door.
You've just come into contact with a bunch of dangerous goods – aerosols, alcohol, lithium batteries. How many more will you use, buy or sell throughout your working day?
Of course, that depends largely on your line of work, but there are nine classes of dangerous goods that you, and those in your supply chain, may come into contact with:
3. Flammable liquids
4. Flammable solids
5. Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides
6. Toxic and infectious substances
7. Radioactive material
8. Corrosive substances
9. Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles.
These all have to be handled and stored with care.
Dangerous goods handling and storage – best practice
The rules and regulations governing the safe transport, storage and use of dangerous goods in Australia are rather complicated.
In terms of road and rail transport, there's been some recent rationalisation, with the National Transport Commission introducing the Australian Dangerous Goods Code, which will come into full force in July 2019.
The code outlines best practice in regards to classification, packaging and performance testing, use of bulk containers, marking and placarding, vehicle requirements, segregation and stowage, documentation, safety equipment and emergency procedures.
That said, it remains up to state and territory departments to authoritatively advise on operational issues related to the code. Here's a list of the relevant departments to get in touch with in each jurisdiction.
Beyond road and rail transport, the rules around dangerous goods become as complex and hazardous as the materials themselves.
Dangerous goods are dealt with at various levels of Australian government and across various departments – including transport, health, environment, and workplace health and safety.
Here's a guide to the regulations and authorities you can consult:
● State and territory workplace health and safety authorities
● Safe Work Australia guide to hazardous chemicals
● Civil Aviation Safety Authority's dangerous goods resources
● State and territory environmental management departments
● International Air Transport Association's Dangerous Goods Regulations
● International Maritime Organization's Dangerous Goods Code
Protecting yourself, your employees and your business
Mistakes in handling dangerous goods can be costly, and you can't always rely on other businesses to do the right thing.
So given the high stakes and complicated nature of handling dangerous goods, it's wise to call in the experts and implement additional safeguards.
[For example, one small mishap can disrupt your whole supply and distribution chains, so it's important to be adequately protected against your business' unique risks with appropriate business interruption insurance cover.]
To further explore the risks and liabilities your business carries, reach out to your local Steadfast Insurance broker.
They can help you invest in an insurance solution that will come to your aid in the unfortunate event of a dangerous goods incident – be it business interruption, management liability or workers’ compensation.
Important note - the information provided here is general advice only and has been prepared without taking in account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Steadfast Group Ltd (ABN 98 073 659 677, AFSL 254928)
Important disclaimer - Steadfast Group Limited ABN 98 073 659 677, its subsidiaries and its associates.
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