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Shipping Hazardous Materials

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Does your packaging live up to the demands of your products? If your company manufactures and ships biological specimens; batteries, including lithium cells and batteries; radioactive materials; combustible liquids or other potentially flammable materials; explosive devices; weapons such as firearms or knives; or cigarettes, you will have to follow strict regulatory requirements when you package these goods. A business that specializes in package testing can help you come up with a cost-effective shipping strategy.

Shipping Potentially Hazardous Goods

Strict protocols control the packaging and shipment of potentially hazardous goods. Different restrictions apply to goods depending upon their classification.

Many dangerous goods will not be allowed to travel by air, which means your only recourse will be to ship them using ground freight. Some types of dangerous goods may be banned from the countries to which you wish to send them, so confirm they’re allowable before you go to the trouble of packaging them.

The general rules for couriers specify that you can pack no more that 100 milliliters of liquid in one package. Most couriers also stipulate that you can include no more than two batteries in a single package. These rules are subject to change, so check with your preferred carrier before preceding.

Your courier will almost certainly impose additional handling fees on your package. Additionally, you will need to post “Hazard” labels prominently on the package so that personnel dealing with the package will understand the risk. Make sure to identify all dangerous goods as such in any commercial invoice you submit to your carrier.

Durable Shipping Materials

The containers you use to ship your dangerous goods must be extremely durable. Corrugated cardboard actually degrades over time, so if you’re using a corrugated cardboard box, make sure that it is new. Fiberboard boxes are probably your best choice for shipping hazardous materials because they stand up over time, and they are relatively unaffected by changes in atmospheric moisture.

Keep in mind, too, that an empty box will crush more easily than one that is full. If your goods only take up a small part of your shipping box, make sure to fill up the rest of your box with a resilient packing material.

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