Shipping companies across the world rely on international shipping maritime standards. In order to have uniformity in these standards, the United Nations formed the International Maritime Organization (IMO). This organization creates and updates various maritime shipping regulations to promote safer maritime shipping practices. One of the primary regulations is the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. If you want to ship dangerous goods safely, understanding the IMDG Code is crucial.
What Is the IMDG Code?
The IMDG Code lays out a collection of regulations to ensure hazardous materials are transported via safe maritime practices. The IMDG Code breaks down dangerous goods into nine categories to help companies better handle hazardous materials. The code provides procedures and policies for handling these goods depending on the class of material. Most companies that ship hazardous materials rely on the IMDG Code for their success.
Who Is Responsible for Complying With the IMDG Code?
The IMDG Code places responsibility on the shipper or another relevant authority to comply with their regulations. When you look at information related to the various material classifications, the IMDG Code specifically states who should be responsible for compliance.
What Are Considered Dangerous Goods?
When you review some of the dangerous goods included in the IMDG categories, you might not think they seem that hazardous. For example, there are several household goods you might not think twice about, such as batteries, paints and first-aid kits.
However, a dangerous good isn’t defined by it being an everyday hazard. Rather, a dangerous good is defined as a substance that could present a hazard to cargo, equipment and workers if mishandled. To avoid the consequences of mishandling materials, maritime shipping companies should be aware of the best practices of handling any dangerous goods they transport.
IMDG Code Classes and Divisions
When you’re looking to implement IMDG Code categories, it’s crucial to understand the nine IMDG Code classes and the materials falling under them. You can then figure out the classes of the materials you normally transport and follow proper handling procedures. Review this IMDG Code summary to gain a better understanding of how the IMDG Code classifies dangerous goods:
- Class 1 — explosives: Any material or item listed in the explosives category is one that can quickly conflagrate or detonate due to a chemical reaction. You can find items like fireworks, airbag inflators and ammunition listed under this class. Explosives are further broken down into six subdivisions.
- Class 2 — gases: If a substance is totally gaseous at a standard atomic pressure at 20 degrees Celsius or has a vapor pressure of 300 kPa or higher at 50 degrees Celsius, it’s classified as a gas. There are three subdivisions for gases, with items like fire extinguishers, natural gas, propane, gas cartridges, compressed gases and aerosols included.
- Class 3 — flammable liquids: A flammable liquid is classified as a liquid, mixture of liquid or liquid containing solids with a flashpoint lower than or equal to 60 degrees to 65 degrees Celsius. Additionally, flammable liquids include liquids transported at or above their flashpoints. Primary examples of flammable liquids include paints, acetone, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuels, alcohols and adhesives.
- Class 4 — flammable solids: If a material is easily combustible under common transportation conditions, it’s classified as a flammable solid. This classification also includes self-reactive substances that may go through solid desensitized explosions or exothermic reactions. There are three subdivisions in this class. Common items include sodium batteries, metal powders, activated carbon and matches.
- Class 5 — oxidizing substances, organic peroxides: Organic peroxides are substances with a chemical structure where organic radicals have replaced a single hydrogen atom or both hydrogen atoms. Oxidizing substances include those that may cause or at least contribute to combustion due to the possibility of chemical reactions causing oxygen yield. These hazardous materials include sodium nitrate, ammonium nitrate fertilizers, nitrites, nitrates, chemical oxygen generators and more.
- Class 6 — toxic substances and infectious substances: Infectious substances are defined as materials that have, or are likely to have, pathogens, such as fungi, parasites and bacteria, that can give animals and humans diseases. If a substance can cause harm when swallowed, inhaled or contacted, it’s classified as a toxic substance. Common examples of these types of dangerous substances are arsenic, cyanides, chloroform, nicotine, acids, dyes, tear gas, biomedical waste and biological cultures.
- Class 7 — radioactive material: If a material contains radionuclides where the activity concentration and total activity exceed predefined values, it’s classified as a radioactive material. Since these materials can be very harmful to human health, it’s important to transport them correctly. You can find radioactive materials, such as density gauges, depleted uranium, radioactive ores and medical isotopes included in this classification.
- Class 8 — corrosives: Substances that degrade or disintegrate other materials with chemical actions via contact are classified as corrosive. When these substances aren’t transported appropriately, they can damage living tissue and leak during transit. Some of the main types of corrosives include batteries, flux, paints, dyes and acids.
- Class 9 — miscellaneous hazardous materials: When materials don’t fit under the previously mentioned categories, they’re put under the miscellaneous hazardous materials banner. You can find magnetized materials, genetically modified organisms, substances transported at high temperatures and environmentally hazardous substances in this classification. Examples of these materials include fuel cell engines, first-aid kits, life-saving appliances, lithium-ion batteries and dry ice.
IMDG Regulations 2020
The IMO regularly updates IMDG regulations to provide users codes and regulations that keep a company’s shipping processes safe. In 2020, the IMDG Code, 2018 edition came into effect on the first of January. The 2018 edition is still the current IMDG Code shippers must follow. The IMDG Code, 2020 is soon to be released, with regulation compliance voluntary beginning the first of January, 2021. The 2020 IMDG Codes will become mandatory on June 1, 2022, following a five-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How to Use the IMDG Code
Companies can use the IMDG Code and IMO guidance for several parts of the shipping process. One of the primary uses of the IMDG Code is helping crew members identify shipping names of dangerous goods and classify them appropriately. By identifying the IMDG Code appropriately, crew members can be more aware of how to properly pack items.
Additionally, the code can help workers identify the various kinds of placards, labels and markings associated with the different dangerous goods they’re transporting. The IMDG Code can assist crew members as they unload and load cargo units with dangerous goods inside them, ensuring they’re handling goods safely. The code can also be applied in understanding what documentation crew members should use for each type of dangerous good.
The IMDG Code can help guide inspections and alert workers to how they should respond if dangerous goods cause a fire on the ship. The code also allows crew members to create safer stowing and loading plans. Finally, the IMDG Code is regularly utilized by crew members for correctly declaring dangerous goods to port authorities.
Choose Klinge Corporation for Temperature-Controlled Containers
One of the primary methods of properly transporting dangerous goods is having the right containers on your ships to keep dangerous products at the right temperature. At Klinge Corporation, we’re proud to provide our clients temperature-controlled containers. These containers are extremely durable and can help you control the environment of dangerous goods during the transportation process.