If you have dealt with dangerous goods (also commonly referred to as hazardous materials) in any shape or form, you have probably heard about the Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) set forward by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). They are known for releasing an updated version of their IATA DGR manual that is considered to be the “global reference for shipping dangerous goods by air and the only standard recognized by airlines.”
It is difficult to provide every single detail about the IATA DGR in this article, given that the manuals are 900-1000 pages long and every page is covered with technical information that spans every safety possibility regarding the handling of dangerous goods. For this reason, the main highlights will be covered.
The IATA DGR starts right away with a clear and defined definition of Dangerous Goods:
Dangerous goods are articles or substances which are capable of posing a risk to health, safety, property or the environment and which are shown in the list of dangerous goods in these Regulations or which are classified according to these Regulations.
Training is mandatory for anyone who interacts with the dangerous goods at any point in the transportation process.
Training and testing needs to be performed before any person can be considered qualified to work with dangerous goods. There should be general training provided to all workers and specific safety training that will help workers act quickly during emergency situations. All of the training sessions need to be extensively documented in sufficient detail, and the instructors need to be qualified to teach the material.
Dangerous goods are divided into 9 separate classes:
Class 3—Flammable Liquids
Class 4—Flammable Solids; Substances Liable to Spontaneous Combustion; Substances which, in Contact with Water, Emit Flammable Gases
Class 5—Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides
Class 6—Toxic and Infectious Substances
Class 7—Radioactive Material
Class 9—Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods
Each class is provided with its own detailed description to ensure that they are unique from one another, along with specialized packing instructions to ensure that the dangerous goods are safely transported and handled.
Specific details are provided about the packaging process.
The IATA DGR requires that certain packaging provisions and requirements are met, regardless of the class of dangerous goods that is being shipped. Certain safety containers are better suited for certain classes of dangerous goods. There are also several performance tests that need to be performed and passed prior to shipping.
Once the tests are done, there are rules laid out for how the packages should be marked. You will need to use specific labels and placards that are configured to a certain color, size, text font, and language. The documentation that needs to be attached to the package containing the dangerous goods is also described in great detail.
The IATA DGR provides a step-by-step framework for using the regulations.
Knowing that it is unrealistic to expect workers to know exactly which page to flip to during
moments of urgency, the guidebook begins with a 20-step framework that takes the reader
through a check to ensure that all the necessary requirements for classification, labeling, marking packing, and documentation are sufficiently met. It is brief in its length, but it accounts for every scenario and mishap that could happen in the process. At each step, the appropriate sections to refer to are provided.
Every single year within the month of January, a new edition of the manual is released with all of the previous material from the previous one, along with any tracked changes that have been made since the publication of the previous edition.
The fact that this book is constantly updated to reflect changes while maintaining strict and clearly written guidelines is what makes it an internationally respected handbook for safety. This year’s edition is the 58th installment of this yearly publication.