Dangerous goods

When working with dangerous goods, it is important to know the risks. The International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code) contains all transport provisions relating to the maritime transport of hazardous substances in packaged form, in tanks and tank containers. The IMDG has been issued by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and divides dangerous substances into a number of hazard classes, a.o.:

  • Class 1: Explosives and objects
  • Class 2: Compressed, liquefied or pressurized gases
  • Class 3: Flammable liquids with a flash point below 60° C
  • Class 4.1: Flammable solids
  • Class 4.2 Self-combustible materials
  • Class 4.3 Substances that develop flammable gases in contact with water
  • Class 5.1 Oxidizing agents
  • Class 5.2 Organic peroxides
  • Class 6.1 Toxic substances
  • Class 6.2 Infectious substances
  • Class 7 Radioactive substances
  • Class 8 Corrosive substances
  • Class 9 Other substances that may present a hazard (eg substances that are harmful to the marine environment)

The sender is responsible for the proper classification, packaging and labeling of a hazardous substance. The starting point is the drug table in Chapter 3.2 of the IMDG Code. The table lists all substances and articles with the UN number (international substance identification number. The classification of substances in a hazard class is based on classification criteria. Substances that are not named by name, but according to these classification criteria are a dangerous substance, are transported under a general UN number: the n.e.s. (= not elsewhere mentioned) position.

For Port Facility Personnel it is important to know the risks that are concerned with the transportation and storage of dangerous goods. Therefore the IMO guidelines on training for Port Facility Security Officers and port facility personnel have a direct link to the IMDG Code. It is therefore important that relevant personnel is familiar with the labels that can be found on packages and transport units. They also need to know how to check the multimodal dangerous goods form (MDGF).

FACTS is an accident database which contains information on more than 25,700 (industrial) accidents (incidents) involving hazardous materials or dangerous goods that have happened all over the world during the past 90 years. FACTS is the acronym for “Failure and ACcidents Technical information System“. FACTS can be used as an in-house reference system. The main objective of the FACTS chemical accident database is to learn from accidents or incidents and to prevent them in the future. Analyzed and documented accidents involving severe damage or danger, such as BLEVES, major spills, huge explosions and derailments, are included, as well as near-misses. The quality of the information on recorded accidents is also related to their seriousness and impact. For the most serious accidents detailed information is known; 3,00,000 pages of background information is stored, most of it electronically, and remains available for further research purposes. The accidents are coded in abstracts making the existing data suitable for risk analysis, risk management, damage prevention and statistics. The abstracts are very accessible, so that even the most complex accidents are easy to comprehend. The FACTS chemical accident database was a product of TNO Industrial and External Safety and is now maintained and exploited by the Unified Industrial & Harbour Fire Department in Rotterdam-Rozenburg.

eMARS, the Major Accident Reporting System (MARS and later renamed eMARS) was first established by the EU’s Seveso Directive 82/501/EEC in 1982 and has remained in place with subsequent revisions to the Seveso Directive in effect today. The purpose of the eMARS is to facilitate the exchange of lessons learned from accidents and near misses involving dangerous substances in order to improve chemical accident prevention and mitigation of potential consequences. MARS contains reports of chemical accidents and near misses provided to the Major Accident and Hazards Bureau (MAHB) of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre from EU, OECD and UNECE countries (under the TEIA Convention). Reporting an event into eMARS is compulsory for EU Member States when a Seveso establishment is involved and the event meets the criteria of a “major accident” as defined by Annex VI of the Seveso III Directive (2012/18/EU). For non-EU OECD and UNECE countries reporting accidents to the eMARS database is voluntary. The information of the reported event is entered into eMARS directly by the official reporting authority of the country in which the accident occurred.