World’s Dangerous Goods Transportation Experts to Convene in Switzerland Beginning Next Week

The 41st session of the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG Sub-Committee) will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from June 25 to July 4.  The 41st session of the TDG Sub-Committee is the third of four meetings scheduled for the 2011-12 biennium. The primary purpose of the meeting will be to consider proposals for the 18th Revised Edition of the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods Model Regulations (UN Model Regulations), which will be implemented within relevant domestic, regional, and international regulations beginning Jan. 1, 2015. The TDG Sub-Committee Web site provides copies of meeting documents, including reports, working papers and agendas.

Various topics will be discussed during the course of meeting. Noteworthy items include:

  • An explosives working group will be convened to consider various proposals dealing with explosives. Likely outcomes include changes to:
    • Classification and transportation of ammonium nitrate;
    • Screening procedures for classifying explosives; and
    • Classification of fireworks.
  • Not surprisingly, lithium battery transport issues continue to be a hot topic. Probable results of discussions around this topic will be potential changes to:
    • UN tests for lithium batteries;
    • Requirements for transporting damaged or defective lithium batteries; and
    • Requirements for shipping waste lithium batteries.
  • An interesting proposal was submitted by COSTHA that deals with changing the proper shipping name for air bags and seat belt pretensioners.
  • The TDG Sub-Committee is considering incorporating more technologically-advanced methods for leak-testing aerosols.

Other matters of importance noted on the agenda include classification and packing of dangerous goods; marking and labeling specifications, electronic data interchange (EDI) for documentation purposes; cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); global harmonization of transport of dangerous goods regulations; and guiding principles for the UN Model Regulations and Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

For those unfamiliar with the process, the TDG Sub-Committee is responsible for harmonizing regulations on the transportation of hazardous materials (dangerous goods) by developing an internationally agreed regulatory framework set out in the UN Model Regulations.  International harmonization of hazardous materials regulations plays a significant role in enhancing safe transportation through improved regulatory consistency. The UN Model Regulations form the basis for international modal regulations on the transport of dangerous goods prepared by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The UN Model Regulations are also used as a basis for the development of regional (e.g. European Road and Rail Regulations) and national transport regulations, including the U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations.

Participants in the TDG Sub-Committee include 29 countries with voting status and numerous countries and non-governmental organizations with observer status. The TDG Sub-Committee is responsible for reviewing proposals from voting member countries and observers in relation to amendments to the UN Model Regulations and issues relevant to its work program. The TDG Sub-Committee meets four times in a two-year period (biennium). PHMSA represents the United States at these meetings and formulates U.S. positions based on feedback from U.S. industry, the public and other government agencies.

The 42nd session of the TDG Sub-Committee, also taking place in Geneva, is scheduled for Dec. 3-11, 2012. At this meeting all changes to be incorporated into the 18th revised edition of the UN Model Regulations will be finalized and approved.

Fellow Labelmaster staff member Neil McCulloch and I are looking forward to participating in the 41st session as part of the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council and Dangerous Goods Trainers Association delegations. In addition, we will be providing updates via social media throughout the course of the meetings. Please follow Labelmaster on Facebook and Twitter to receive this important information in real-time.

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Looking for a copy of the UN Model Regulations? Labelmaster offers this publication in several formats, including standard-bound, spiral-bound and CD-ROM. In addition, we carry the Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods: Test and Criteria, a collection of the various tests that enable competent authorities to classify explosive materials and other articles. Visit the books section of the Labelmaster Web site to view our complete UN publications library.

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