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International Forwarding Association Blog » Specialized transportation » Commonly Shipped Goods That May Present Safety Hazards

Commonly Shipped Goods That May Present Safety Hazards

There are some types of cargo that can present potential safety hazards and should be subject to risk assessment before shipping. Such items may contain mercury, gases under pressure, or hazardous chemicals that bear health and safety risks if they spill, break, drop, or come in contact with another substance.


What Items Are Considered Hazardous

Hazardous items range from ordinary goods like nail polish, liquor, and hair spray to dangerous substances such as toxic materials and gases. Toxic and infectious substances, for instance, include items carrying fungi, viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens, that can cause harm, injury, or death. Oxidizers such as chlorine, bleach, and ammonium nitrate fertilizers may enhance or cause combustion. Flammable solids may ignite spontaneously or when in contact, including sodium batteries, potassium, fish oil, coal, sulfur, and matches.


Examples of Ordinary Items That Can Pose Hazards

Construction and electronic equipment, engine, aircraft, and auto parts, and powered equipment like chainsaws can present safety hazards. Construction equipment, for example, may contain CO2 cartridges and batteries. Space heaters, generators, and gasoline-powered saws may contain thinners, drying agents, paints, gas torches, liquified petroleum, or fuel. Electronic and electric equipment may have uninterruptible power supplies, batteries, mercury in switches, and magnets. Auto and engine parts may also pose safety hazards if they contain gas tanks, gas lines, or carburetors with gasoline. Likewise, aircraft parts must be shipped regulated when they contain fuel control devices. The residue of fuel may be present in powered equipment like chain saws. Machinery parts may also include a variety of hazardous substances, including solvents, sealants, paints, and adhesives.

Mining and drilling equipment that contains mercury, lubricants, acids, and other hazardous substances are shipped regulated. Lawn equipment that contains batteries or fuel is also considered a safety hazard, including items such as weed trimmers and lawnmowers.

In addition, office and photographic supplies, tool boxes, and repair kits are considered potentially hazardous goods under certain circumstances. Office supplies, for instance, may contain electrical storage batteries and non-inflammable and inflammable printing ink. Photographic supplies containing poisonous and corrosive materials, acids, and bleaches must be shipped regulated. Toolboxes may also contain a variety of hazardous substances such as corrosive liquids, flammable paints, spray cans, and power rivets. Lastly, repair kits could contain flammable gases, solvents, and adhesives.

Other goods that may pose health and safety hazards include:

  • Thermometers
  • Samples for testing
  • Refrigeration equipment
  • Hand tools like screwdrivers and rechargeable drills
  • Passenger service units
  • Medical supplies containing infectious substances, corrosive chemicals, etc.
  • Lighters
  • Laundry supplies
  • Household goods containing spray cans and bleaches
  • Firefighting equipment and fire extinguishers
  • Fertilizers
  • Dental equipment
  • Cosmetics
  • Breathing apparatus

Hazardous goods are some of the most expensive, heavily regulated, and complicated items to ship. This is because they can pose a hazard to human health and property if handled, stored, or transported improperly. The requirements for shipping typically cover proper documentation, labeling and packaging, and specialized transportation in some cases.