Chemical Logistics: The More Dangerous the Goods, the Safer the Shipment Process

Chemical Logistics: The More Dangerous the Goods, the Safer the Shipment Process
Phubet Boonrasri

Many of the products that are shipped around the world everyday have the designation of ‘Dangerous Goods’ (DG) and must be properly managed and handled. The more dangerous the goods, the more peace of mind that is required. Ensuring that DG goods are handled, stored and processed correctly is of the utmost importance. This is especially true for cross-border transportation, where safety can greatly affect both parties and the people that live in the countries along the transportation route.

To learn more, we spoke with Hazardous Substances Logistics Association (HASLA) committee member and manager, Ms. Parichate Ponpala. She represents HASLA and helps to share with us their insights about safety standards for logistics management and improvements they look to bring to cross-border DG Transportation.

HASLA is a certification body, part of the Thailand Professional Qualification Institute. Their function is to certify personnel in Dangerous Goods Logistics, Transport Management, Dangerous Goods Warehouse Management, Environment, and Hazardous Substances.

Stringent Requirements

When choosing the right logistics provider for DG Transportation, both domestically and internationally, customers should consider safety as the most important factor. Logistics providers should ensure that their services are safe, up to high standards and adhere to all laws and regulations.

“Typically, the road transportation service provider will follow the ‘Q Mark’ standard. However, in DG Transportation, DG manufacturers consider a higher, more international standard operation as more beneficial to them and their customers. Logistics providers involved in operations with high safety standard should keep up-to-date with public laws and regulations, including continually improving their service quality. By doing so, they will be at the top of the list for their target customers,” Ms. Ponpala said.

Organizational and operational structure are other important factors that DG manufacturers should look in to. A good organizational structure should ensure smooth operations and provide solid procedures, including fast and effective problem solving in case any incidents were to occur.

Mutual Safety

Many countries have set up their own strict standards for DG Transportation, but regulations and procedures can vary by region. Following suite, Thailand and the CMLV (Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Viet Nam) countries have established the Transport Operational Connectivity amongst Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Viet Nam, and Thailand (CLMV-T) Protocol No.9. Under this law, the transportation of DG products is to abide by the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods/Model Regulations, and the European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR).

Ms. Parichate Ponpala

“ADR regulations can be referred to in all parts of chemical and DG logistics management, for instance, driver regulations, transportation vehicles, DG identification markings, safety tools, and equipment or documentation procedures. In the same way, HASLA has put a lot of effort in educating and promoting the ADR toward personnel in the transport and logistics industry. For example, emphasizing the importance of wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), educating about the 9 types of hazardous materials, and management of emergency situations. For safety reason, drivers must be able to manage and handle emergency incidents that might occur and properly report the incident. Several other practices and instructions are also provided,” Ms. Ponpala said.

Moving Beyond Boundaries

Transportation of Dangerous Goods across the borders between Thailand and CLMV countries are limited in both cargo quantity and the amount of trucks in operation. Licensing needed to be applied, including laws and regulations in destination countries need to be obeyed. Transporters have to identify chemical types, quantity transported, and the number of vehicles operated.

Under the CLMV-T protocol to apply the ADR standard to control and manage the safety of DG Transportation, every party needs to be operating under the same practice. The procedures are streamlined and increasingly effective. ADR specifies the standards for vehicles, containers, tank containers, emergency equipment, warning signs, transfer procedures, and the method for latching and binding the chassis with the truck.

“We are working with neighboring countries to promote and standardize transport and logistics practices. By operating under the same guidelines, cross-border DG Transportation will become safer and smoother. A safe and successful transportation of dangerous goods requires that everyone involved is working on the same page, as safety is not just an individual responsibility and anything can happen. It is a necessity to stick to the standards, so everyone is safe while working with chemicals and hazardous materials,” said Ms. Ponpala.

Choosing the Right Container

Most chemicals are considered hazardous materials, although managing and handling such goods are not always as dangerous as it seems. However, it’s better to always be aware and stick to the stringent guidelines for safety reasons. With understanding, knowledge, and standardized safety procedures, DG Transportation is safer than most people might imagine. However, logistics providers must always be cautious about the type of substances under their operation, their limitations and the reactions that can happen between each substance.

Ms. Ponpala said, “Other than choosing the most suitable container for each chemical, to identify the type of substances, correct labels with 4-digits identification number according to UN regulations (UN Number), the name of the products, and qualified container signs must be attached to the containers. The details help to inform the type and chemical property of the goods contained in the containers. Every party across countries involved with the transportation can then easily identify the chemicals being handled under their care, making the process safer, easier and faster.”

Implementing New Safety Technology

A necessary piece of documentation in DG Transportation is the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). The document is prepared by shippers, with or without the assistance of a logistics provider. SDS identifies the chemical mixtures, verifying the proportion, and chemical structure of the goods being transported. Precautions for transportation and container loading, and spillage management procedures are also included in the documentation to ensure that every party involved will have the correct information and correct understanding to take care of the substance in transit if any incidents might occur.

Many DG transport providers are also incorporating innovations and technologies to upgrade the safety of their services. Among the beneficial technologies in the market, Mobile Digital Video Recorder (MDVR) have widely been used to help to analyze accidents and incidents, monitor and improve driver’s behaviors, help improve safety in preventive driving, and prevent the driver from driving drowsy. Data collected is directed to a control room where systems and operators act as a ‘third eye’, monitoring drivers and warning them if they see signs of tiredness or any other risky behaviors.

As you can see, the more hazardous the cargo, the more careful the operator needs to be. Especially in cross-border DG Transportation, where more parties are involved, more distance is covered, and more damage can occur if something were to happen. Transportation operators need to be careful in their planning, proceedings, and managing of the cargo to ensure the safety of the operations; for everyone, every community and every area rest easy while DG goods are transported through their area.

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Phubet Boonrasri

Phubet Boonrasri, or Chen, is an experienced writer with interests in many fields. As a one of the feature writers for Airfreight Logistics, Chen digs in deep to get his facts. Chen is an adventurer, an explorer of the world and spends a lot of his spare time with nature.

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