Dangerous goods are substances that, due to their physical, chemical or toxicological characteristics, pose a direct threat to people, the environment or property. Dangerous goods regulations exist to guarantee their safe transportation.


Keep your distribution cycle safe: comply with dangerous goods regulations 

The transportation of these types of goods is regulated by a series of national and international dangerous goods regulations, which include the “United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.”

This document serves as a guide, offering a series of fundamental standards and procedures for government bodies to be able to harmonize both national and international regulations that govern the different types of dangerous goods transports.

These recommendations include requirements in regard to materials, transportation methods and dangerous goods classifications, and also a series of packaging testing methods for a successful cargo securing.

UN packaging requirements: the complete guide


Dangerous goods description

Dangerous goods regulations classify goods based on the type of hazard that they imply, breaking them down into 9 different groups:

> Flammable liquids

These are defined as liquids and liquid mixtures that generate flammable vapors at temperatures under 60-65°C, in addition to liquids that are transported in conditions and at temperatures above their flash point, or substances transported in liquid state that emit flammable vapors. Here we can find, for example, acetone, paints, lacquers and varnishes.

> Flammable solids, substances liable to spontaneous combustion; substances which, on contact with water, emit flammable gases

These are substances that, due to the conditions to which they are subjected during transportation, could combust or cause fires in other materials.

This category also includes substances that may spontaneously combust, or which may do so in contact with air, in addition to emitting flammable gases sporadically or in contact with water. Here we can also find alkaline metals and sodium batteries, among other materials.


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> Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides

The former refers to substances that may cause or contribute to combustion, usually by generating oxygen. Organic peroxides, on the other hand, are hydrogen peroxide derivatives and considered thermally unstable. Both types of substances may cause materials to combust. Here we can find chemical oxygen generators and fertilizers based on ammonium nitrate.

>Toxic substances

This includes substances that may cause death, severe injury or infections on human beings if inhaled, ingested or in contact with the skin. Pathogens and microorganisms like bacteria and fungi, such as those found in medical and biomedical waste, are contained in this group.

>Corrosive substances

These are substances that, via chemical reactions or contact, degrade or disintegrate other materials. This category includes materials such as dyes, acid solutions and batteries, among others.

The UN classification also includes four other dangerous goods categories: explosives, gases, radioactive materials and miscellaneous. 

Transport test methods for dangerous goods regulations

In another document, the United Nations outlines its recommendations on the criteria, testing methods and processes to classify dangerous goods as per the dangerous goods regulations. 

Distribution or transit tests should be performed in addition to these recommended tests, in order to guarantee a safe transportation of dangerous goods.


Transit tests for consumer products: reasons for conducting them

> Impact and drop testing

These two tests assess a package’s ability to protect goods against the free falls and impacts that might occur during transportation.

A Drop Tester is used to this end, which can simulate side, edge and corner drops as per the UN’s packaging requirements. Meanwhile, impacts are tested using horizontal and incline impact testers. This test is included in the ASTM D4919 standard. 

> Vibration testing

Vibrations are among the greatest hazards faced by goods during transportation. A vertical vibration tester can be used to perform a vibration test to simulate the vertical vibrations experienced under real transportation conditions. This test is also included in the ASTM D4919 standard.

> Environmental conditioning

The atmospheric conditioning test is performed in a laboratory setting by testing samples in temperature, humidity and weather conditions that are similar to those that will be experienced during the distribution cycle.

Dangerous goods testing standards

In order to adequately comply with dangerous goods regulations, it is advisable to implement a series of packaging tests, based on the type of goods, to test the protective ability of the package against transport contingencies. 

If the package passes the tests outlined in these testing protocols, the packaging is considered to be suitable, and the unit load is deemed to be ready for the transportation of dangerous goods.

ASTM D4919

Standard Guide for Testing of Hazardous Materials (Dangerous Goods) Packagings

The main purpose of this standard is to identify key information required to ensure that selected packaging will pass the United Nations (UN) packaging certification at the level that is appropriate for its intended use.

It covers test procedures for the transportation of hazardous material packagings for net masses, except those used for infectious substances, radioactive materials, cylinders, and other receptacles for gases.

The tests included in this standard are: drop test, vibration test, pressure differential test, hydrostatic pressure test, and cobb water absorption test.

ASTM D7387

The D7387 Standard – Test Method for Vibration Testing of Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) Used for Shipping Liquid Hazardous Materials (Dangerous Goods) – comprises the performance of vibration testing on intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) that will transport dangerous goods. The purpose of this testing protocol is to guarantee that the containers will protect the goods, maintaining their integrity and avoiding leaks or spillage. 

Do you want to properly comply with dangerous goods regulations while offering a safe and efficient packaging? At Safe Load Testing Technologies we help companies generate safe packaging solutions through our transport simulation systems. Get in touch with us and let’s talk about how we can help you.


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