BACKGROUND OF THE IMO
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) was established in 1948 and was originally called the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, or IMCO. The IMO was formed as a specialized agency of the United Nations to develop international regulations, adhered to by all nations, to ensure safety at sea and environmental protection.
The IMO was first tasked with adopting a new version of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), an international maritime safety treaty. The 1960 International Convention was a significant step forward in the updating international shipping regulations and is still the most important treaty addressing maritime safety. Development of an international code for dangerous goods transport by sea was among the items contained in the 1960 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code includes guidelines on items such as packing, container traffic and stowage, and segregation of incompatible substances.
The IMDG Code was adopted in 1965. Amendments to the Code can be made by the IMO’s working group, the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC). Requests for amendments may be made by member nations or in response to changes to the UN Recommendations of the Transport of Dangerous Goods. Amendments based on changes to the UN Recommendations are made every two years.
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IMDG CLASSES & DIVISIONS
Dangerous Goods are broken into different classes and are further subdivided into divisions. The classification can be made by the shipper/consignor or the appropriate competent authority as specified in the Code.
Class 1: Explosives
Division 1.1: substances and articles which have a mass explosion hazard
Division 1.2: substances and articles which have a projection hazard but not a mass explosion hazard
Division 1.3: substances and articles which have a fire hazard and either a minor blast hazard or a minor projection hazard or both, but not a mass explosion hazard
Division 1.4: substances and articles which present no significant hazard
Division 1.5: very insensitive substances which have a mass explosion hazard
Division 1.6: extremely insensitive articles which do not have a mass explosion hazard
Class 2: Gases
Division 2.1: flammable gases
Division 2.2: non-flammable, non-toxic gases
Division 2.3: toxic gases
Class 3: Flammable liquids
Class 4: Flammable solids; substances liable to spontaneous combustion; substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases
Division 4.1: flammable solids, self-reactive substances and desensitized explosives
Division 4.2: substances liable to spontaneous combustion
Division 4.3: substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases
Class 5: Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides
Division 5.1: oxidizing substances
Division 5.2: organic peroxides
Class 6: Toxic and infectious substances
Division 6.1: toxic substances
Division 6.2: infectious substances
Class 7: Radioactive material
Class 8: Corrosive substances
Class 9: Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles