South American hazmat rules are newly harmonized. Are you trained up?

Those of us in the North American Dangerous Goods supply chain may complain about the complexity of hazmat regulations, but lots of us don’t know how good we have it.

After all, we only have to worry about one set of UN Model Regulations. Sure, there may be slight, unharmonized differences between Europe and North America, but for the most part we’re all working from the same playbook.

But in South America, you have 13 nations working from five editions of the model regulations. Not the same playbook at all. Barely even the same game!

That situation is improving, thanks to a regulatory protocol newly harmonized by MERCOSUR, the largest free-trade agreement bloc in South America. We’re proud to offer the first English language online training course on these MERCOSUR regulations. Here’s what you need to know about the course and the regulations—and the story behind them.

One set of regulations from Venezuela to Argentina

No one has done more to advance harmonization in South America’s Dangerous Good regulations than Diego Gotelli, Director of the Chemistry Information Center at CIQUIME.

A couple of years ago, we shared his tale of a hypothetical phosphorus oxychloride delivery from San Antonio, Texas to Buenos Aires, Argentina that would have required four placard changes and five different documentation formats—and potentially incurred at least $30,000 in penalties.

He says, “Just four years ago, regulations transportation of Dangerous Goods by road was based on seven different versions of the UN model regulations, with almost 20 years of difference from one country to another. We also had seven different models of emergency action cards that were mandatory for transportation.”

Today, Gotelli explains, “This new Mercosur agreement brings us a legal and technical framework for its member countries Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay and the two associated states Venezuela and Bolivia. That means from Venezuela all the way to the southern tip of Argentina, it’s the same set of Dangerous Goods ground transport regulations from one point to the other.”

The perfect introduction to the MERCOSUR regulations

Say you’re an American manufacturer shipping a hazardous item to Brazil. The air regulations are exactly the same IATA rules you’re familiar with, but once that shipment gets to Brazil you have to make sure everything is packaged, labeled and documented in accordance with the new MERCOSUR regulations.

That’s why we created the industry’s first English language MERCOSUR Dangerous Goods road regulations online training.

This two-part online course—which you can take anytime and anywhere you have an Internet connection—is the perfect introduction to the MERCOSUR regulations that make shipping hazmat to and through South America so much easier.

Labelmaster Director of Global Learning Rhonda Jessop says, “This course provides an overview of how the MERCOSUR regulations apply, and it also provides the technical information shippers need to know to move Dangerous Goods compliantly—the marking, labeling and packaging requirements, along with any potential fines and sanctions they can expect if they’re not in compliance with these regulations.”

North American shippers will notice some differences between the MERCOSUR rules and the 49 CFR, including exceptions for consumer products such as cosmetics and special prohibitions that require the control of enforcement authorities.

That’s why Jessop says, “It’s pretty much a go-to course for anybody who wants to move Dangerous Goods into and out of MERCOSUR countries.”

More MERCOSUR countries, more harmonization

Shipping hazmat in South America is still complex, since several countries are not yet MERCOSUR members. Gotelli, however, sees this situation improving.

“MERCOSUR is working with the Latin America integration association (ALADI) to update the international land transport agreement,” he says. “We’re trying to incorporate these technical groups to that agreement so we can expand the MERCOSUR agreement to the other countries. Chile and Peru will probably sign this agreement very soon. And we are also having discussions with other countries such as Columbia and Ecuador.

“This is a starting point. I think it’s very likely we’ll have even more harmonized regulations very soon.”

Don’t miss our latest podcast featuring Diego and Rhonda discussing the new MERCOSUR training course!

Make sure your shipments are safe and in complete compliance with a full line of solutions from Labelmaster—a full-service provider of goods and services for hazardous materials and Dangerous Goods professionals, shippers, transport operators and EH&S providers.


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