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Ensuring Safe Transportation of Dangerous Goods

Dangerous goods shipping is a highly regulated industry that revolves around the safe handling and transportation of hazardous materials. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is one of the leading providers of dangerous goods shipping services, committed to upholding the highest safety standards for its customers. In this article, we will discuss in detail the structure for dangerous goods shipping, with a focus on the USPS, to understand how they ensure the safe transportation of hazardous materials.

Classifying Dangerous Goods

The first step in the structure for dangerous goods shipping is classifying hazardous materials. The USPS follows the guidelines set by the United Nations Model Regulations and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in classifying dangerous goods. Proper classification is crucial as it determines the packaging, labeling, and handling requirements for each specific type of hazardous material.

Nine Hazard Classes

What is considered hazardous material shipping? There are nine classes of dangerous goods, with each class assigned a specific label and symbol to indicate the type of hazard. The nine classes include:

  1. Explosives –  e.g., airbag inflators, pyrotechnics, ammunition.
  2. Gases – e.g., fire extinguishers, aerosols, propane cylinders.
  3. Flammable and combustible liquids –  e.g., fragrances, nail polish with acetone, diethyl ether.
  4. Flammable solids – metallic sodium and potassium, nitrocellulose.
  5. Oxidizers and organic peroxides – e.g., potassium peroxide, sodium chlorate, ammonium nitrate fertilizers.
  6. Toxic and infectious substances – e.g., cyanides, medical waste, phenol.
  7. Radioactive materials – e.g., thermostats, blood pressure monitors, smoke detectors.
  8. Corrosives – e.g., formaldehyde, alkaline and acid battery fluids, iodine.
  9. Miscellaneous dangerous goods – e.g., dry ice, medical kits, combustion engines.

Understanding the different classes helps ensure that the appropriate precautions are taken during the shipping process.

Proper Documentation

Once hazardous materials are classified, proper documentation is necessary for shipping. This documentation includes the shipping paper, which provides details about the shipment, such as:

  • Shipper and recipient's contact information
  • Product names
  • UN identification numbers
  • Packing group of the hazardous materials
  • Mode of transport

The shipping paper also includes emergency contact information, transport document number, and other regulatory requirements. Accurate and complete documentation is essential to comply with regulations and enable effective communication throughout the shipping process.

How to Pack Dangerous Goods

Proper packaging and labels are crucial in dangerous goods shipping to prevent leaks, spills, and accidents. The USPS follows strict guidelines in packaging and labeling hazardous materials to ensure their safe and secure transportation.


The USPS requires that all hazardous materials be appropriately packaged according to the DOT's hazardous materials regulations. The packaging must be able to withstand the rigors of transportation and prevent leakage, spills, and damage. The packaging must also be appropriate for the hazardous material being shipped and must comply with the UN packaging standards. Adequate packaging ensures that dangerous goods are contained and protected throughout the shipping journey.

When sending packages containing hazardous materials (HAZMAT), it must segregate from other packages and present them in a container labeled «HAZMAT».


The USPS requires that all hazardous materials be appropriately labeled according to the DOT's hazardous materials regulations. The label must be prominently displayed on the packaging and must include specific information, such as:

  • UN number
  • Proper shipping name
  • Hazard class
  • Packing group

The label must also meet the durability and weather resistance requirements to ensure legibility throughout the shipping process. Clear and visible labeling helps identify and communicate the hazards posed by dangerous goods to facilitate safe handling and transport.

Transporting Dangerous Goods

The USPS, like other shipping providers, has to comply with various international, federal, and state regulations in transporting dangerous goods. Proper handling, loading, and unloading of hazardous materials are critical in preventing incidents during transport.

Transport Modes

The USPS provides various options to transport dangerous goods, including:

  • Air
  • Ground
  • Maritime
  • International shipping

The mode of transport chosen depends on the type of hazardous materials, destination, and required delivery time. Each mode of transport has specific regulations and considerations that must be followed for the safe and compliant transportation of dangerous goods.

Required Training

USPS employees who handle dangerous goods undergo extensive training on regulations, shipping processes, and emergency response procedures to ensure compliance and safety. Proper certification is also required for employees handling hazardous materials to ensure they have received adequate training. Ongoing training and certification help USPS employees stay up-to-date with the best practices for handling dangerous goods and respond effectively in case of any emergencies.

Shipping with USPS

  • Review USPS hazardous materials guidelines to ensure your item can be shipped.
  • Comply with standard postal regulations as well as state and federal laws.
  • Properly pack and label your hazardous materials. All packages must be marked as containing hazardous items.


The USPS is committed to compliance with regulations that govern the transport of dangerous goods to ensure the safety of its employees, customers, and the public.

Regulatory Bodies

Regulations are set up by various federal, state, and international regulatory bodies, including:

  • U.S. DOT
  • International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
  • International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Compliance with these regulations is crucial in maintaining a high level of safety and minimizing the risks associated with transporting dangerous goods.

Compliance Checks

The USPS conducts regular compliance checks to ensure compliance with regulations, including providing training to their employees and suppliers regularly. These checks are also important in identifying areas that require improvement and addressing non-compliant behavior. By conducting compliance checks, the USPS can continuously monitor and enhance its processes to meet or exceed regulatory requirements.

Choosing a Dangerous Goods Shipping Provider

Choosing a reliable and experienced shipping provider for dangerous goods is essential in ensuring safe and secure transportation of hazardous materials.

Expertise and Experience

The shipping provider should have the expertise and experience to handle hazardous materials. They should have a comprehensive understanding of the regulations governing dangerous goods shipping and have implemented effective systems for compliance and safety. Working with an experienced provider minimizes the risks associated with the transport of dangerous goods and ensures operational efficiency.

Certifications and Track Record

The shipping provider should have certifications to demonstrate a commitment to quality and compliance, such as:

  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
  • Responsible Care Program

They should also have a track record of compliance and safety in handling dangerous goods. Verifying the certifications and track record of a shipping provider helps establish their credibility and gives confidence in their ability to provide safe and reliable transportation services.

Cost of Shipping Dangerous Goods

Dangerous goods can be shipped by carriers such as the USPS. Many couriers charge premium rates and additional fees for handling and processing dangerous goods due to the increased risks involved. When using USPS services, only the hazardous materials handling fee must be paid to cover the additional processing costs and delivery time for shipping hazardous materials.


The USPS is one of the leading providers of dangerous goods shipping services, committed to upholding the highest safety standards. Its structured approach to dangerous goods shipping, encompassing classification, packaging, labeling, transportation, compliance, and choosing a reliable shipping provider, ensures the safe and secure transportation of hazardous materials. Adhering to this structure is critical in protecting the lives of people, property, and the environment while transporting dangerous goods.


Can I ship dangerous goods internationally?

Yes, it is possible to ship dangerous goods internationally. However, specific regulations and restrictions vary depending on the destination country and the type of hazardous material being shipped.

What are the requirements for packaging dangerous goods?

Packaging requirements for dangerous goods depend on the classification of the hazardous material. The packaging must meet the standards set by regulatory bodies, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

How are dangerous goods labeled for shipping?

Dangerous goods must be properly labeled according to the regulations set by governing bodies, such as the DOT and IATA. Labels must include the hazard class, UN number, proper shipping name, and packing group.

Posted 8 months ago