We spend a lot of time talking about hazchem codes in Australia, as well as what you need to do to keep yourself and your team safe if your business uses and stores hazardous chemicals.
One specific area we don’t get to talk about quite as frequently however is all the safety requirements that go into transporting said chemicals and substances.
You may think that once it’s out of your business premises, it’s not your problem any more. This couldn’t be further from the truth – your duty of care extends to the transport of hazardous chemicals too.
And it begins with placard loading.
What is a placard load?
Under the Australian Dangerous Goods Code, any vehicle carrying more than a certain volume of hazardous chemicals or substances is referred to as a placard load. This is to say that it’s required by law to carry a placard alerting everyone to its cargo.
A vehicle must be placarded if it is carrying:
- Dangerous goods in a receptacle with a capacity of more than 500 L or kg
- A total of 250L or kg of class 2.1 goods (excluding aerosols) or class 2.3 goods
- A total of 10kg or L of Packing Group I dangerous goods
- Any quantity of explosives, radioactive material and infectious substances
If your cargo involves any of these, you’ll need to ensure that your vehicle carries an appropriate placard identifying what you’re transporting.
What is a dangerous goods placard?
A placard refers to any sign attached to a transport unit, container or vehicle carrying hazardous goods and chemicals. Specifically, it typically means EIP signs, hazchem diamonds and dangerous goods labels.
These signs can be:
- Spray painted onto the unit or vehicle
- Placed into a frame
- Attached directly using adhesive
These placards need to be installed at the very front and the very rear of any vehicle you’re using to transport these goods.
As a general rule, you’ll only need one placard per hazard, so if you’re transporting a mix of goods and chemicals, you’ll need one for each class of hazardous goods.
In cases where there are more than one class of dangerous goods on the vehicle, the front and rear placards can also be a mixed class label, class-neutral division GHS labels identifying primary and secondary risks, or both of these solutions together.
How many placards are required for each cargo transport unit containing dangerous goods?
So far, we’ve focused on signage and labelling requirements for your vehicle – but what about the actual hazardous substance containers themselves?
In order to stay safe, you’ll need to label each of the containers themselves that make up your placard load. While placarding the transport vehicle is important, your cargo won’t spend all of their time in transit – eventually, they will need to be unloaded.
And when this happens, those containers will need to be labelled for the safety of whoever’s unloading them.
You’ll want to follow the same general rules as when placarding your vehicle. Each container needs to be labelled with placards that hazard type needs to be identified with a separate label.
In addition, it’s also important that you label individual boxes, bottles, pallets and barrels whenever feasible.
Our range of dangerous goods signs and shipping and transport signs come in a wide variety of different sizes, which means that they can be attached to a range of different dangerous goods containers.
What is needed to transport hazardous goods? Everything else you’ll need to deliver your cargo
When transporting dangerous and hazardous cargo, it’s important that you have the right signage and labels – however, that isn’t all that you need.
Under Australian regulations, there are a number of different requirements that you’ll need to adhere to in order to transport goods safely while meeting your legal obligations.
How do I get a dangerous goods certificate?
If you want to transport dangerous goods, the first thing you’ll need to do is get certified.
Essentially, this process ensures that you know how to safely transport hazardous chemicals, and that you are familiar with all the legal requirements Australian law requires of you.
Specifically, anyone transporting these types of goods needs to obtain a Dangerous Goods Drivers License, a document that certifies that drivers:
- Understand the relevant laws
- Know how to prepare substances for transport
- Understand documentation requirements
- Are a safe and competent driver
- Know how to identify and label your cargo
- Are ready to respond in the event of a spill or emergency
This license is mandatory in order to transport more than a certain quantity of hazardous and dangerous goods. If your business involves transporting placarded loads, then your driver is going to need to hold this licence.
And if they don’t, you’ll need to pass the responsibility of transporting it to someone who does.
Are you using appropriate containers?
When transporting dangerous and hazardous goods, it’s imperative that you transport them safely – and that means using appropriate containers.
For large shipments, you may be required to use a dedicated dangerous goods container, which is essentially a shipping container that’s specifically designed to handle dangerous and hazardous goods. Unlike regular shipping containers, these ones:
- Have a dedicated sump to contain any spills
- Are ventilated to prevent fumes from building
- Have multiple doors to allow emergency evacuation
- Are coloured yellow
And of course, it’s important that the containers, bottles, barrels and boxes storing the chemicals themselves are airtight, properly-sealed and labelled.
Remember your documentation
One of the most important documents you can include with any dangerous goods shipment is your safety data sheet, or SDS.
This is a document that includes all relevant information about a particular chemical or substance, including:
- Hazards associated with it
- Recommended PPE
- Storage requirements
- Proper handling procedure
- Emergency procedures
This document is legally-required under the GHS. If you manufacture chemicals or goods, you have a legal responsibility to include one of these with every first shipment or new chemical (as well as upon request).
Additionally, it’s also important that you ensure that your other documentation is also up-to-date as well, with records kept of everything you dispatch, just in case.
Get the signs you need to stay safe with Signsmart
When it comes to transporting dangerous and hazardous goods, signs often don’t really rate a mention. In many cases, they end up at the bottom of the priority list, underneath things like proper shipping containers, documentation and other more “glamorous” steps.
So you have a big shipment coming up, and you’ve only just now realised that you don’t have the appropriate placards and signs to do so safely.
That’s where we come in.
Our online sign store has everything you need to stay safe, including the widest range of hazard signs in Australia (including custom-made signs).
More importantly, we make it our mission to get your signs to you ASAP, with speedy delivery and same-day dispatch ensuring that your signs turn up just in time to go off with your scheduled delivery.