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How does the transport of dangerous goods differ from the normal transport of goods?

Transport of dangerous goods

Transport of dangerous goods on public roads is a difficult specialisation in an already difficult industry such as commercial transport of goods. Such transport is regulated by a number of legal acts, which do not have to be taken care of by owners, forwarders or drivers of companies engaged exclusively in the transport of neutral cargoes. The legal acts mentioned above include first of all the International ADR Agreement valid throughout Europe (and not only) as well as local law acts, which in Poland mean, among others, the Act on the Transport of Dangerous Goods or the Act on Weapons and Ammunition. Each of these documents brings in its own regulations, and in the case of international transport it is always necessary to check if the country of transit has not by chance brought in its restrictions, which will apply to our vehicle on its territory – to sum up the above: the subject became complicated before the driver managed to turn the key in the ignition, but one by one.

Dangerous goods

As the name suggests, these are those which for some reason endanger human life or health, the environment or the general order or material goods. The United Nations has created a closed TN catalogue, assigning a four-digit number to each, the so-called „UN number”, while dividing them into classes according to the threat or dominant threat. For example, fireworks have been placed in Class 1 as an explosive, petrol in 3 as a flammable liquid and batteries and accumulators in 9 as „other dangerous goods and objects”.

The ADR agreement (and not only this time, but also on another occasion) introduced requirements for the carriage of TN in order to minimise and, above all, prevent the effects of a possible release of substances, for example in the event of a vehicle collision. The general regulations for all classes are primarily the complete equipment of vehicles and the training of their crews, as well as other persons involved in the transport, such as forwarders, warehousemen or the operation of equipment for filling and emptying tanks, i. e. for goods.

Driver training is the first and most important line of defence against unwanted events, as it is the driver who, on behalf of his employer, accepts the goods for transport and is responsible for them while on the road. Accepting, for example, a leaking DDPL with strong acid or highly flammable liquid is a straightforward way to tragedy on the road, and in addition to the driver himself, there are also outsiders who are unaware of the load on the vehicle. It is therefore essential that each driver completes a special course and passes an examination before being allowed to transport dangerous goods. These training courses are divided into basic and specialist training courses, for example, for tankers or explosives – all drivers of our company have of course a full set of qualifications.

Another requirement mentioned earlier is to equip vehicles with equipment to protect the crew (such as safety glasses or eye wash) and to actively prevent the release of hazardous substances into the environment (e. g. safety devices applied to sewage wells). Some TN classes require additional components such as a gas escape mask or a non-sparking flashlight (so-called „EX flashlight”) for explosives. Talking to ITD employees, I have the opportunity to hear about often penny-like savings like replacing eye wash with a bottle of water – when asked if in case of eye pollution a bottle of water is as good as a special liquid in a bottle with an applicator, drivers usually spread their hands apart. We decided not to save on safety, however, by equipping cars with complete and best quality equipment.

The third element that is absolutely necessary for the transport of TN is a designated safety adviser for the transport of dangerous goods, often referred to as DGSA in English. This person, having the qualifications granted by the Transport Technical Supervision (in the case of Poland), is responsible for supporting all employees in terms of compliance with regulations, training new employees of the company and reacting to any discrepancies. DGSA is often omitted in the Polish reality as an unnecessary cost, but who should confirm whether a given transport can be carried out with a car in their possession or whether a particular product was properly prepared for transport? At Adecon, the designated DGSA has the TDT road transport authority, as well as the IATA DGR Category 6 aviation authority and training in the IMDG maritime code. As I mentioned above, we do not save on safety and also on knowledge.

By meeting these three conditions we are almost ready to go, but this is still only a part of the requirements – there are also technical specifications for some TN groups, regulations of other modes of transport that are often mixed with each other or the aforementioned regulations of national law that are not included in ADR. All these issues will be the subject of subsequent articles, which will appear periodically supplementing this introduction.


Tags: transport of dangerous goods, dangerous goods, ADR agreement
17 August 2017|