What does it really mean?
When someone says hazardous cargo, what comes to your mind? Trucks hauling rusty containers, filled with nuclear waste? Perhaps, some toxic slug leftover from a secret science experiment? What about some dangerous chemicals used to fight a Martian invasion?
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Though that might be what comes to mind for some, but the reality is much less pronounced but equally deadly.
Actually, some of it hits a little closer to home than you might think! Though according to Hollywood, only evil governments and mad scientist create hazardous cargo. However, that simply is not the case.
America’s highways see hazardous cargo hauled across them every day! Hazardous cargo or commonly called dangerous goods can be broken down into several categories. Various agencies have their own definitions regarding hazardous cargo.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) , they are any item that might endanger the safety of the aircraft, crew, and/or passengers on board.
Well that’s pretty broad, isn’t it?
But not to worry, fortunately for you there is the Department of Transportation (DOT). They have broken it down into 9 categories:
There now, isn’t that much better?
Well if you don’t like either of their explanations, there are plenty of others. For example, you can always check out these different agencies:
Now, of course, these aren’t the only agencies, but you get the point there is a lot of discussion and oversight regarding hazardous cargo.
So, as you could clearly see there are numerous agencies involved when dealing with hazardous cargo.
Actually, there are so many of them, that agencies oversee and actually regulate the same hazardous cargo but from a different set of guidelines! It can really get mind-boggling, in fact, it makes one wonder how anything gets done!
Well, company ‘X’ makes chemical ‘B’ and they wish to transport it from Chicago to LA for shipment to China.
When they are still at the factory agencies such as the Department of Home Land Security (DLS), EPA, OSHA, and the state/local authorities will review it.
Then, OSHA and DOT will determine how it should be labeled. Sometimes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), or even the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), will need documentation on it too!
Each state will need their assessments and determinations. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and perhaps the Department of Agriculture (USDA), will need their stamp of approval.
Then of course comes the maritime regulations, the export permits, import permits. The list really goes on! In fact, as many as 20 or 30 agencies might be involved, directly or indirectly, with the shipment of this one imaginary hazardous cargo!
In order to transport this type of freight or any type of cargo in a matter of fact, not just hazardous cargo, first and most important are of course, that you will need a CDL license, with proper endorsements.
Which means you will need to attend truck driving school, and then find the right trucking company to work for, even get the proper driving clothes!
Well actually, I don’t mean regular clothes but truck driving shoes and driving gloves and whatever is appropriate. But this is neither here or there, it’s the obvious things that every experienced truck driver knows! Let me go back to hazardous cargo and all the fun stuff!
In order to comply of with federal guidelines make sure you visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) . Also, check with your state for up to date regulations.
Because, if you mishandle hazardous cargo you can get fined or even end up in jail! No one wants that so follow the set rules.
Well, there are numerous bits and tidbits of information available. Some are true and some are not. With all the agencies involved at the local, state, federal, and even international levels it is impossible to mention everything.
But I hope you will find this info on a hazardous cargo of interest. Perhaps they will even encourage you to research a little more before attempting to ship hazardous cargo, without first having a full understanding of what the cargo is and how to properly handle it.
Ok, that is a bold statement but it isn’t too far from the truth! No, really you would be surprised what can actually be labeled as hazardous cargo. Dangerous goods come in all shapes and sizes. They even actually have many uses. Often they are harmless when used and stored properly.
So if I am not referring to nuclear warhead what am I referring to? How about Diesel fuel, oil, and other petroleum products? Then we have household items such as aerosols, adhesives, paint, thermometers and even bleach. But did you know food additives and even dental whitening strips can be considered hazardous cargo?
Think about it. Unlike like my example of fictitious product ‘B’, hazardous cargo gets shipped across American highways every day! Most people don’t even think about it!
After all, we use most of those products. They are not just for governments and major corporations. They are what’s produced and then purchased, by you and me!
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