IMO – Dangerous Goods

Transportation of dangerous cargo by vessel is internationally regulated under the International Maritime Organization or IMO for short. IMO is an agency under the auspices of the United Nations. The IMO in turn, refers to the IMDG, or International Maritime Dangerous Goods Regulations code to administrate it’s responsibilities.

The IMDG has gone through several amendments since 1965, which is when it was first introduced.

How do I fill out an IMO Dangerous Goods Declaration?

The IMDG code mandates that the consignor must provide a declaration for dangerous goods that confirms that the dangerous goods are properly classified, identified, marked, labelled, packaged and placarded appropriately. It also requires the responsible person stuffing the container to declare that the packing was done correctly.

What are considered to be dangerous goods?

DG cargo is any form of cargo that can pose a hazard or risk to safety and security. These are classified into 9 groups. Each group represents a set of characteristics and degree of danger.

  • Class 1: Explosives. This category includes different goods. Determining factors for subclasses are explosion risk, fire risk and projection hazard.
  • Class 2: Gases. The category includes gases in all forms, regardless of storage temperature. Subclasses are determined based on nature of the gas (oxidising, flammable, toxic or asphyxiating).
  • Class 3: Flammable Liquids.
  • Class 4: Flammable Solids. Subclasses are determined depending on whether the cargo is self-reactive, desensitized, capable of spontaneous combustion, or emits flammable gases in contact with water.
  • Class 5: Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides.
  • Class 6: Toxic substances.  Subclasses are determined depending on whether the cargo is toxic or infectious in nature.
  • Class 7: Radioactive materials. In this category, products can be further classified into sub categories depending on surface radiation levels and whether they are fissionable.
  • Class 8: Corrosive materials.
  • Class 9: Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles. In recent time, the most infamous example of a product that falls in this group is the lithium battery.

It must be noted that the increasing number of the Class does not indicate increasing severity of danger. The numbering of the classification system is merely a format and not a hierarchy. Experienced individuals having advanced knowledge and understanding of the IMDG code can be highly sought after, since this knowledge can be applied to warehousing compliance regulations as well.

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