Dangerous Goods Isn't Scary, It's just Dangerous
Updated: Sep 29
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me about Dangerous Goods. It's an interesting topic because there is definitely a knowledge base and an understanding of what the legislation and rule book are trying to achieve.
Let me just rattle some stuff off the top of my head. There are small packaged goods, containers and, placard loads and bulk dangerous goods. Each chemical has different limitations depending on the environmental impact and danger. In most cases they set the bench mark at 1 ton before a load becomes a placard load, then 3 ton for bulk Dangerous Goods. Gas I believe is around 250 Litres, depending on what type of gas it is. It also doesn't matter if you have empty bottles, when it comes to Dangerous Goods, containers are always assumed to be full.
No mater what Dangerous Goods you move in what quantities, the driver must obtain a declaration from the sender with specific details of the product, quantity, this is Law. Declarations must be kept in the cab of the vehicle so a driver could potentially grab those documents before evacuating the vehicle if there is an incident. This would allow the driver to pass on correct information to fire fighters.
Anyway, lets leave the details right here and look at the big picture. Pretend you are a fire fighter for a second and you were attending the scene of a vehicle carrying dangerous goods and upon arriving to the scene you notice the vehicle is on fire. One of the things you will be looking for is a placard on the vehicle to see what the main chemical is on board so you can figure out the correct method of extinguishing the fire. If it's corrosive acid, you might use foam or sand to contain the hazard and to avoid contaminating nearby environment. If it's gas, you might increase the proximity of the hazard and be extra cautious. Chemicals hazards need to be managed correctly so it doesn't put people's life or the environment at risk. This is what Dangerous Goods is all about and this is the way to understand it properly.
Why do you think it's important that gas bottles are blocked and contained by gates and sides? what happens to a gas bottle when it explodes? I assume it probably launches the bottle like a rocket in any random direction which could potentially kill someone. So understanding that and consider how would you contain and restrain this bottle on the back of your vehicle? hockey strap? probably not. Against the headboard with a stack of pallets behind it with a 1.5 ton strap holding it down? That seems more adequate.
What if you had 100 Litres of Liquid Nitrogen in a breathable canister? What happens to Liquid Nitrogen when it's sealed and can't breath? The bottle builds up pressure and can explode launching the lid off. So it's important not to strap down across the floating poly lid. Is this dangerous to the public? If restrained correctly, not really because it will simply evaporate. The most risk with Liquid Nitrogen comes with handling the product itself so it's more about Manual Handling and Personal Protective Equipment.
I'ts important not be shy aware from Dangerous Goods. I'ts not scary, it's just Dangerous Goods. Like, Oil isn't considered Dangerous Goods unless your transporting it over water. Understand it for what it is and take the opportunity to learn and develop your knowledge base. In closing, i'll jot down some questions to consider.
If i'ts possible you could be transporting Dangerous Goods, make a plan and have a think about the quantity you would be moving and how you would do it.
Obtain a declaration before transporting any Dangerous Goods
Keep the declaration with you in the cab
Understand the chemical and quantity, what if it's a chemical you have never heard of, how could you find the information quickly?
Do you have a copy of the Dangerous Goods code accessible in your vehicle?
Is it a placard load? If it is, do you have placards?
Can you block, isolate and restrain it safely?
If you have two types of Dangerous Goods, how can you quickly find out if they are compatible? how could you segregate them?