Don’t use hazmat software? Here are some things you might need

Who wouldn’t love getting an abacus this year?

Of all the shocks in our 2017 Global Dangerous Goods Confidence Outlook, the biggest might have been this one:

26% of DG pros say they use no DG software

– they use manual processes for any hazardous materials they ship or handle.

Since we offer DGIS, the most sophisticated hazmat software available, we’d like to imagine that number would be closer to zero.

After all, hazmat shipping isn’t getting any less complex. With more than 3,600 items now classified as “hazardous,” 63% of North American respondents agree it’s challenging to keep up with regulations. And 88% of all respondents believe keeping DG compliant throughout the supply chain is more important than ever.

What’s more, non-compliance can be costly. Fines and delayed shipments are just the beginning. What about the human costs, financial liability and damage to a company’s reputation if a compliance error turns into a catastrophe?

But if more than a quarter of hazmat pros—or their employers—don’t believe they need any software at all to keep their shipments safe and compliant, who are we to argue? In fact, we’d like to offer the following suggestions to complete their DG shipping suite of tools and resources. Call it the Hazmat-By-Hand Holiday Shopping Guide:

  • Reading glasses. Without DG software, shippers need to check reference manuals such as the 49 CFR and the IATA DGR all the time—and some of that print gets mighty small.
  • Pencil sharpener. Shipping hazmat without software means filling out a lot of forms by hand. Sharp pencils are essential. Many hands-on shippers eschew modern electric sharpeners for the rigorously hewn point of the manual crank.
  • Ballpoint pens. Security protocols dictate ink be used on numerous forms of documentation. While many modern operations are exploring the benefits of blockchain for DG shipping, the thrifty hands-on purist makes do with inexpensive ballpoints bought in packs of 10.
  • White-out. Of course, no one is perfect. Even the most scrupulous pen-wielding DG practitioner will need to correct errors now and then.
  • Carbon paper. Hazmat by hand is rarely a speedy process, but time is still precious. Carbon paper allows multiple forms with identical information to be filled out at once—as long as the practitioner remembers to press hard.
  • Typewriter ribbon. Many major carriers no longer accept handwritten documentation! Still, no need to scurry down the software superhighway just yet—a well-maintained typewriter with a fresh ribbon will keep the manual DG practitioner in most carriers’ good graces.
  • A slide rule. If someone is old-school enough to ship Dangerous Goods without software, he or she might appreciate the hands-on satisfaction of using a slide rule. While it can be difficult to integrate a slide rule with an ERP platform, nothing is impossible for the dedicated manual process hazmat shipper.
  • An abacus. Same thinking as the slide rule, but more appropriate for an operation that ships primarily to Asia.

Okay, all kidding aside. It’s nearly 2018. If your Dangerous Goods operation is still handling documentation, labeling and packaging with manual processes, you are falling behind your competitors in efficiency—and putting your bottom line at risk of fines, delayed shipments and catastrophic liability.

Make your Dangerous Goods operation more efficient and boost your compliance. Schedule a compliance assessment with our consulting team and ask about integrating DGIS software with your operation.

Lots of things are beautiful when they’re executed by hand. Hazmat compliance isn’t one of them.

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
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