While dangerous goods (DG) are a continual security challenge for stakeholders in logistics and air cargo, lithium batteries have again come to the forefront of concern following the COSCO PACIFIC ocean container ship fire that took place earlier this week, caused by a misdeclared lithium battery.
Considering accidents like this involving DG, as well as new security regulation requirements introduced at the start of the new year, San Francisco-based freight forwarding and customs brokerage company Flexport hosted a webinar discussing the five major mistakes to avoid when shipping dangerous goods.
The five common mistakes shippers should remember to avoid when transporting dangerous goods, Flexport said, include:
- Updating documents before they expire;
- All batteries, liquids, powders and creams require a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS);
- Vetting shippers thoroughly;
- Shipments can change from non-DG to DG depending on mode of transport; and
- DG training is not enough without a solid DG program in place.
Furthermore, as of Jan. 1, 2020, two new requirements applicable to DG shipments came into force. The first is the Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) 61st edition, which is now mandatory for all air shipments, as well as the International Maritime Organization International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMO IMDG) Code 39-18, which is now mandatory for all ocean shipments. Both of these regulations now require shippers to ensure MSDS compliance with a completed check of packaging instructions, expiration date and that battery shipments have passed the UN38.3 test. In air transport, magnetized material can be classified as DG depending on magnetic field frame, while for ocean shipments, magnetized material is does not need to be declared unless the products are magnets themselves. Further details regarding specific requirements for dangerous goods can be found on authority sites.
Various regions and locales may require additional documents with specific requirements that shippers must also remember to complete thoroughly prior to shipping goods. For example, while all major Chinese airports and ports require a Safe Transport Report that can be issued by common third-party testing labs, airports and ports in Shanghai specifically require a Safe Transport Report to be issued by the Shanghai Research Institute of Chemical industry, while Hong Kong airport and other world regions instead require a MSDS.
Ultimately, the responsibilities of properly declaring goods fall upon the shipper. Flexport warned that shippers should be sure to fully comply with new regulations and requirements as industry authorities are on the lookout for these common mistakes, which can potentially result in delayed shipments, legal penalties or fines, and accidents.
These new requirements’ evolution, however, suggest the logistics industry is on its way to improving safe transport of products globally.