The use, handling and transport of dangerous goods is governed by a number of national and international laws, regulations and recommendations. Central to these is the duty to protect you, your employees and members of the public from any potential injury or damage from dangerous goods.
Put simply, dangerous goods are hazardous materials — solids, liquids or gases — that can harm people, other living organisms, property or the environment. The United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and other international organisations have divided dangerous goods into nine classes which are recognised worldwide.
In Australia, the manufacture, storage, transport, transfer, sale and use of hazardous materials is governed by the Dangerous Goods Act 1985. The recently updated Dangerous Goods Code fully complies with UN regulations of the transport of hazardous materials, providing detailed guidance for anyone who works with, stores or transports dangerous goods.
Before we examine the Code in more detail, let’s take a closer look at the nine classes of dangerous goods:
Class 1: Explosives – Any substance that is capable of causing hazardous amounts of heat, light, sound, gas, or smoke. Separated into six different divisions, this class covers a wide range of substances and materials, ranging from fireworks and air bag inflators to rockets and TNT.
Class 2: Gases – Gases are hazardous not only because of their flammability, but also because of the risk of asphyxiation they pose. Liquefied gases, compressed gases, dissolved gases and refrigerated liquefied gases are all included in this class. Common examples include aerosols, lighters, propane and natural gas.
Class 3: Flammable Liquids – These are volatile liquids that give off a flammable vapour at temperatures below 60-65°C. While they are commonly used in every day life in the form of petrol, diesel and kerosene, large quantities can be extremely hazardous because of their volatility and combustibility.
Class 4: Flammable Solids – Flammable solids are classified as substances that may spontaneously combust, or emit flammable gases when they come into contact with water. These can include oily fabrics, alkali metals, phosphorous, firelighters and more.
Class 5: Oxidizing Substances – While not combustible in themselves, oxidizing substances are classified as dangerous goods as they can contribute to the combustion of other materials.
Class 6: Toxic & Infectious Substances – Toxic substances can cause severe injury or death if swallowed, inhaled or come into contact with the skin. Infectious substances, meanwhile, are defined as materials that may contain pathogens such as bacteria, parasites, viruses or other microorganisms that can cause sickness or death.
Class 7: Radioactive Material – This is defined as any material containing atoms that are subject to radioactive decay. Known as radionuclides, these materials emit ionizing radiation, which can pose severe risks to human health.
Class 8: Corrosives – These are any materials that damage or destroy other materials on contact through a chemical reaction. Undiluted corrosives, such as hydrochloric acid, can cause severe damage or injury on contact.
Class 9: Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods – This class covers dangerous goods not included in the other classes. Genetically modified organisms, substances stored and transported at elevated temperatures and environmentally hazardous materials all fall within this category.
If you or your employees handle any of these materials, you have a legal obligation to minimise any risk of damage or injury. The Dangerous Goods Code gives detailed advice on how to safely store and transport dangerous goods and how to ensure the health and safety of your employees, as well as detailing your obligations with regard to safety signs, data sheets, etc.
Central to the Code’s recommendations is the isolation of hazardous materials in safe storage conditions, ensuring human contact with any dangerous goods is kept to a minimum. Dangerous goods storage cabinets can significantly reduce the risk of damage and injury. Specially designed to withstand fire and/or corrosion, fully featured safety storage cabinets also come with secure locking systems to prevent unwanted access.
If you need to transport dangerous goods as part of your business, transport segregation units can provide full peace of mind and ensure that you comply with all regulations. All dangerous goods storage and transportation products should be fully compliant with Australian safety standards.
At S.E.P.M.A.R, we have more than 20 years’ experience helping businesses and professionals in Perth store and transport dangerous goods. Contact us today to find out more about our extensive range of storage cabinets, safety cabinets and fire cabinets.