Hazardous material is one of the most complex categories of shipping. There are numerous regulations to follow and penalties for any aspect that is not in compliance—including packaging, labeling, and documentation.
For companies that ship hazardous materials, which can range from lithium batteries and portable chargers to aerosols and paint, decreasing the number of errors caused by hazmat shipping is an opportunity to save time by adopting better workflows, avoiding double-checking and correcting mistakes, and save money by avoiding penalties.
Types of hazmat shipping requirements
Correctly selecting the classification for your shipment is essential to following the appropriate requirements.
Packaging – The packaging used for hazmat shipping must meet UN performance standards for its materials, construction, and maximum capacity and must display the packaging identification code.
Labeling – The packaging must have the proper markings, labels, and placards, showing the hazard class and other required details. Labels must be durable enough to hold up in transit, not peeling or having the ink run even in different temperatures and conditions.
Documentation – Shipping papers must contain the correct information such as identification numbers, the hazard class, and the amount of hazardous material.
Transportation mode – Some items have different requirements for different modes of transportation—for example, dry ice, if it is shipped via air or sea versus ground freight. If you’re typically shipping by one mode, your system must alert you to possible non-compliance if you use another mode. Whenever possible, try to use ground transportation for hazardous shipments.
Failing to comply in any of these areas results in penalties. Minor violations start in the hundreds of dollars; serious violations can incur hundreds of thousands of dollars of penalties. On top of this, if there are violations, the Department of Transportation’s investigation can cause a significant delay in delivery.
How hazmat mistakes occur
With the shipping of hazardous materials, there is greater risk for mistakes due to the complexity of the regulations. A shipment might have omitted some of the requirements in error or is not following the requirements exactly for the circumstances.
If the shipper’s hazmat processes are correctly established, any mistakes are then due to the specific workflows. For example, failing to use a hazmat label might be a problem of the label printing separately from the shipping label. If all required labels are printed at once, there is much less chance of one left off.
The key component to eliminating these errors is automation. Without automation, staff can fail to identify a hazmat item, forget certain steps in the process, or not meet all the requirements, making hazmat-specific solutions essential for thorough and efficient shipping.
Using technology to address hazmat errors
A shipping solution like Pacejet keeps track of whether items are hazardous and flags them for the additional steps required, like automatically printing the appropriate documentation and hazardous labels. Pacejet can also integrate with carrier systems for handling hazardous material, if the user prefers to use the carrier system for these complex shipments, and this way, the shipper still gets the ERP and other system integrations through Pacejet.
When automation is used, it helps maintain processes that significantly reduce the chance of hazmat-related mistakes. This helps improve the efficiency and accuracy of operations while saving time and money.
Learn more about shipping hazardous materials and dangerous goods with Pacejet and UPS WorldShip by reading this blog.