20 Oct 2014
Shipping materials that can cause harm to humans or the environment if they are spilled during transport requires an informed knowledge about national and international laws and regulations.
If something should happen and your company is responsible for a haz mat spill because the proper protocols weren’t followed, ignorance is no defense.
Fortunately, there are now a number of containers that have been certified to be in compliance with the US Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, which regulates the domestic and international shipment of dangerous goods that could cause harm to people or property if mishandled. These containers include bulk shipping containers that are completely secure during transport.
What Is a Hazardous Material?
A hazardous material is anything that can cause harm to people, living organisms, property or the environment. The definition includes such things as biohazards, allergens, asphyxiants, pathogens, corrosives, flammables, toxins and radioactive materials.
Some of the companies that common deal with the transportation of hazardous materials include the healthcare, laundry, pharmaceutical, and food industries.
In light of recent incidents and a heightened awareness of the potential threats that could come from the supply chain, local, state and even the federal governments are cracking down on the enforcement of the HMTA. In the US, the code is enforced by the US Department of Transportation, which has adopted the United Nation’s marking system for classifying hazardous materials.
Responsibility Doesn’t End at Your Dock
Jack Smylie, national sales manager for Meese Orbitron Dunne Co. — a leading maker of containers for shipping hazardous materials — said that if anything should happen to the hazardous materials once it leaves your property and enters the supply chain, your company could still be held accountable.
“Regulated, hazardous and materials for export require UN/DOT compliant packaging,” Smylie told Modern Materials Handling. “For most companies handling hazardous materials within a closed loop, their choices are steel or plastic containers. Because their lighter weight reduces transportation costs — when compared to steel — we’ve seen a big trend in the implementation of reusable plastic bulk containers for this type of transport.”
One of the company’s products is a latch-based fastening system that can be integrated into some of its other bulk forklift containers. The rotationally molded polyethylene unit includes four military-grade side release buckles that are attached via nylon straps. These are used to lock the lid onto the container. If the shipper would like to mount more buckles on the rigging, they can.
“The buckles keep the cover securely in place, even if the container is turned upside down, to ensure that the contents don’t escape,” said Smylie. “Because the fines associated with a spill and its cleanup can be extremely costly, there’s been a lot of interest from shippers in a variety of categories.”
The containers have been certified to met UN/DOT standards by a third party. To help users maintain compliance with these regulations, information about the proper use of the containers is permanently molded onto the side of each unit.