10 things your C-suite might not know about Dangerous Goods

In our 2014 Master Series video—“DG and the C-suite: What Every Executive Needs to Know”—Labelmaster President Alan Schoen says:

“Unfortunately, the C-suite does not know a lot about the transportation of Dangerous Goods. They think we’re shipping nuclear bars from the waste treatment plant, and that’s not what it is.”

How much has changed in three-plus years? Not much. Of the more than 400 DG pros who responded to our 2017 Global Dangerous Goods Confidence survey, more than one out of three agreed their supervisors were unaware of exactly what they did.

OK, those folks in the window offices have a lot of responsibilities, so let’s cut them some slack. Here are a few more small nuggets of knowledge you might need to tell your C-suite about Dangerous Goods:

  1. You’re shipping Dangerous Goods. The all-time classic. We understand that not all Dangerous Goods sound especially dangerous—hello, hand sanitizer—but lithium batteries? Yes, Mr. or Ms. E-Commerce Founder, your device isn’t just hazmat—it’s the hazmattiest hazmat in the hazmativerse.
  2. Dangerous Goods transport can be expensive. When you ship things classified as flammable, poisonous or corrosive, your packaging needs to be of a stouter, more costly variety. Plus, carriers may charge you more, because they can.
  3. Dangerous Goods incidents are even more expensive. Stopped shipments cost you money. Civil penalties cost you money. And what’s your corporate reputation worth? The last thing you want is that call that goes, “Hey, there’s a news crew in the lobby and they want to talk to you.”
  4. Dangerous Goods isn’t rocket science. As Schoen explains, “This isn’t rocket science if you have your people trained to really understand how to do it. It’s picking the right type of packaging, the right type of insulation, the right label, the right placard.”
  5. Dangerous Goods isn’t first grade, either. U.S. regulations for hazmat transport are contained in excruciating and often bewildering detail in the 1,200-page Volume 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, a.k.a. the 49 CFR. Global air transport? The four-pound IATA DGR manual. Oh, and by the way …
  6. Dangerous Goods regulations change all the time. New year? New rules. New data? New rules. Shipping into a different country, or by a different mode of transport? New rules. The volatility and complexity of hazmat regulations is one reason why …
  7. Dangerous Goods training isn’t just the law, it’s essential. Even if the U.S. Department of Transportation didn’t mandate role-specific hazmat training every three years, you would want your teams to have it anyway.
  8. Dangerous Goods compliance is not a cost center. You might contemplate all the added labeling, marking, packaging and training that come with hazmat shipping and think, There go my profits. But in reality, your well-trained compliance team is a growth engine, saving you money (see #3) and letting you ship valuable merchandise your less savvy competitors might shy away from.
  9. It’s a square-on-point, not a diamond. Hazmat placards and labels are not diamond-shaped. They are squares-on-point. Now that you know what your Dangerous Goods pros actually do, you’ll sound like an absolute genius if you nail these little details.
  10. Don’t even think about calling it a sticker.

Labelmaster is a full-service provider of goods and services for hazardous materials and Dangerous Goods professionals, shippers, transport operators and EH&S providers. See our full line of solutions at labelmaster.com.

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