Dangerous Goods in the Supply Chain – A primer for storing and shipping hazardous items

table with hazardous goods signs

Human beings’ ongoing curiosity has helped societies make ingenious use of the most diverse resources. If not handled correctly, some of them turn out to pose important risks to human health, their general safety, and the well-being of the environment. Therefore, the proper management of dangerous goods is not only a matter of safety but also a social issue.

Humanity has come a long way to take advantage of the wide variety of dangerous goods applications to help promote development and improve the quality of life. A large set of regulations has been historically developed to ensure that societies make the best use of all means while efficiently managing the risks.

Transport of dangerous goods is regulated in order to prevent, as far as possible, accidents to persons or property and damage to the environment, the means of transport employed, or to other goods. At the same time, regulations should be framed so as not to impede the movement of such goods, other than those too dangerous to be accepted for transport.

                                                           UN Model Regulations, UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. Revision 22 (2021)

In Swiss Mail Solutions, we are experts in handling dangerous goods of various types throughout the entire supply chain. In this blog post, we give you a primer on what dangerous goods are and why expertise in this realm is essential for the success of your business.

What types of items are considered dangerous goods?

dangerous goods classification

Dangerous goods (also known as hazmat or hazardous materials) are any type of material or substance which have the potential of causing severe damage to human beings, animals, or the natural environment.

International regulatory organizations have created a standardized classification system based on the physical properties of the material and the type of hazard they pose. Some of these classes have further subcategories that help logistic managers better identify and handle the materials in question.

A large quantity of hazardous materials is transported each year. For example, according to the International Air Transportation Association, 1.25 million dangerous goods shipments are made yearly through airways. They expect their traffic to grow 4.9% every year over the next five years. Interestingly, the three most shipped dangerous items are flammable liquids, dry ice, and (items containing) lithium batteries.

The most important international regulations for handling dangerous goods

Proper certification for handling hazardous items

Logistic companies that handle dangerous goods are required by law to get certification to make sure they meet minimum standards. This is meant to ensure that companies comply with all necessary regulations during specific key moments in the supply chain:

Identification, labeling, and packaging

Already the correct identification of the hazardous substance into the appropriate category poses a challenge. Whenever there is more than one hazard, an expert must determine the most acute risk and classify and label accordingly (using the correct shipping name, proper UN number, and even labeling color). Experts in packaging are also required to ensure it complies with all the requirements, ensure its correct assembly, and adhere to the allowed quantity per package.

Storage and warehousing

Ensuring that items are stored correctly to avoid dangerous materials coming in contact is essential for any logistics company. Dangerous goods are classified into three groups according to the degree of risk they pose (Packing Group I – high risk, Packing Group II – medium risk, Packing Group III – low risk).

Management of transportation and movement

This step includes selecting the most appropriate mode of transport and making sure that the packaging is adequate for different conditions (for example, changes in temperature or pressure due to air transportation). It is also very important to correctly fill up all the necessary documentation (for example, the Shippers Declaration and the AirWay Bill) for the transport.

Swiss Mail Solutions is your ideal partner for handling dangerous goods

Although logistic companies are required by law to get certified, this only ensures a minimum standard. The importance that each company gives to keeping employees educated and using state-of-the-art practices varies greatly. In Swiss Mail Solutions, we cherish the trust that our clients place in us to handle their products throughout their supply chain. Our experience shows that continuously investing in education promotes transparency and accountability. Our comprehensive approach includes the most advanced technology that helps our team handle dangerous goods more efficiently.


Any doubts? Our experts are happy to guide you through our palette of services and determine the best solutions for your global fulfillment needs.