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Many types of dangerous goods or hazardous materials that your business might transport will seem obvious—like barrels containing chemicals, or crates of ammunition. But it’s important to understand that some cargo may contain dangerous elements that aren’t so immediately obvious to those transporting them.
Take a standard automobile, for instance. The fuel tank, carburetor, and other parts of the engine may contain either gasoline or gasoline fumes. The shocks and struts may contain nitrogen. Airbags are equipped with an explosive propellant. Not to mention common objects that may be contained in a car, like tire inflation devices or fire extinguishers. All of which pose a hazard risk during transport.
One of the more commonly hidden items that make their way into cargo these days is lithium-ion batteries. These come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Smaller batteries can be found in everything from cell phones to laptop computers to cordless power tools, while slightly larger ones power electric wheelchairs, golf carts, and lawnmowers.
Largest of all, yet still sometimes overlooked, are the batteries required to power an electric car. These can weigh upwards of half a ton or more and contain thousands of smaller cells that—like all lithium cells—have the potential for overheating and even exploding under certain conditions.
Recreational products cargo can also hide dangerous materials.
For instance, camping equipment may contain a variety of flammable items in a gaseous state (butane or propane), liquid state (kerosene or gasoline), or solid state (hexamine or matches). And sports equipment may contain cylinders of compressed or liquified gas, lithium batteries, propane torches, first aid kits, flammable adhesives, or aerosols. All of which could present a fire or explosion hazard during transport.
The list goes on. Seemingly innocuous medical or scientific supplies may hide a variety of flammable, toxic, or corrosive substances that aren’t visible to the naked eye. The same goes for photographic and multimedia equipment. And frozen foods or medical specimens may be packed in dry ice, which releases carbon dioxide gas, which can be toxic to humans at high enough levels.
The key to understanding when and where hazardous materials may be hiding in your cargo is general awareness of dangerous goods. Failure to implement proper labeling, documentation, and packaging for cargo containing such items, whether they are hidden or not, could not only result in serious injury or property damage, but also hefty fines.
Hidden dangers like these are of particular concern when goods are being transported as freight either by sea or by air, where limited space and confined storage areas greatly amplify the potential for serious consequences.
DGM Miami offers a variety of training courses designed to improve your ability to identify and properly deal not only with hidden dangerous goods but a range of other scenarios, regulations, and requirements as well. Learn more about these training courses by following the links below: