In DOT HazMat

While shipping is an efficient form of transporting goods nationwide and internationally, strict precautions exist for shipping potentially hazardous substances. Your business may be liable if something goes wrong, so it is essential to ensure your packages arrive at their destination safely and securely.

Dangerous goods are liquids, solids or gases whose properties may present a potential hazard to any living organism or an entire environment’s safety. When you need to ship biological or biohazardous material for your company, you want to ensure safe transport to prevent accidental exposure to dangerous substances.

What Are the Biological Substance Categories for Shipping?

People classify dangerous goods according to whether or not they are flammable, explosive, corrosive, toxic, poisonous or present a different type of risk. You might be wondering what items qualify as dangerous goods. We’ll break down the different categories, so you and your staff know how to carefully handle and ship specific substances.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, biological shipping materials may fall under these categories.

  • Infectious Substances, Category A: When exposure occurs, a Category A infectious substance may cause extreme disability or life-threatening disease in healthy animals and humans. Exposure occurs during transportation when a contagious material escapes its protective packaging and results in physical contact with live organisms. Packaging for these substances must consist of a primary receptacle, secondary packaging and rigid outer packaging.
  • Infectious Substances, Category B: A Category B substance may contain pathogens and other unsafe material but fail to meet the criteria for Category A. While Category A poses a higher degree of risk than Category B, the class designation UN3373 must accompany infectious Category B substances. Packaging for UN3373 must be durable enough to withstand transport conditions and prevent any loss of contents through temperature, humidity, vibration and pressure changes. Category B may also include genetically modified organisms or microorganisms.
  • Exempt Human Specimen or Exempt Animal Specimen: Exempt specimens include substances with a minimal chance of present pathogens, such as blood, urine or tissue sent for monitoring or testing. These require minimum packaging and markings in air transportation. Other substances in this category may include medical, regulated or clinical wastes from bio-research.

How to Ship Biohazard Substances

The following steps will help you safely ship all your biohazard substances for every shipment.

1. Undertake Proper Training

As laws and government regulations can vary across areas, one of the utmost priorities for any business should be to ensure its employees have the proper training for shipping biohazardous materials. Shipping biological samples internationally also requires different processes than shipping domestically. Comprehensive knowledge of International Air Transit Association regulations will help you always take the correct safety measures.
The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations concern shipping risky items over water, air and ground and require training regarding identifying and classifying these substances, preparing relevant documentation and reporting any incidents. Hazmat School offers EPA hazardous waste training courses and certification to provide up-to-date training on shipping and handling dangerous goods.
Classify Your Goods Correctly

2. Classify Your Goods Correctly

Correctly classifying biohazardous goods for shipment is critical to understanding dangerous goods’ properties and their risks to the public, the environment and property. Becoming familiar with the regulatory requirements for various substance categories will help inform your transportation options and decisions and can make the difference between safe, secure shipping and a potential high-risk incident and loss for your company.

3. Contact Your Shipper

Before you can transport your shipment with various transportation services, you must complete the approval process with the company you choose. Some shipping firms have additional safety measures in place, making it an excellent practice to check with your shipper about the specifics of your goods’ preparation for shipping.
When shipping biological samples through FedEx, you must follow specific requirements regarding acceptable packing materials. The USPS also includes precise instructions for the kinds of containers and receptacles it will accept, based on the substances’ state of matter. UPS biohazard shipping guidelines state that the company will not ship any medical, clinical or regulated waste.

4. Package and Label Your Shipment Properly

Ensuring your substances have secure packaging and accurate labeling is essential for safe shipping. Different shipping companies have particular regulations for handling and transporting biohazardous substances. It is also critical to be aware of potential service restrictions if the company delays or refuses to ship your materials. Retain all biohazard shipping labels and maintain complete documentation of sent materials.
Some universal safe packaging processes to remember are to place biohazardous material in a primary container and then into an additional container as its transport vessel. Some materials will even require triple packaging and coolants for secure shipping. Using absorbent towels will help protect the shipment and soak up liquids if a spill or leak occurs. Every biohazardous shipment will require careful attention to labeling with a description of its contents and the appropriate biohazard symbol.

5. Pay Attention to Detail

Because human error is a significant factor in incidents involving shipping dangerous goods, it’s crucial to pay attention to detail at every step of the process. Having your employees check repeatedly for mistakes is critical to preventing accidents from occurring. Following the proper directions and training protocol when preparing biohazardous material for shipping and double-checking when packaging and labeling your goods will ensure the process is as safe as possible.

Mistakes to Avoid When Shipping Biohazard Substances

When shipping dangerous substances, even the slightest mistake can prove disastrous for your company. Here are some crucial tips to avoid potential problems.

  • Use a leakproof bag when shipping liquids: Using specialized bags and rigid containers will reduce the risk of liquid shipment spills and contamination.
  • Use plenty of cushioning and absorbent material: Cushioning biohazardous substances when packaging will prevent damage and leaks and ensure all the package’s intended components are intact.
  • Close all containers correctly: Following directions to close all containers properly will prevent exposure to any hazardous substances during transportation. Failing to apply the specific closing torque on a packaging system for dangerous goods will affect its integrity.
  • Train your employees: All your employees must understand the proper practices for categorizing, shipping and handling risky goods. For example, while it is not illegal to mail urine, you may receive a hefty fine for failing to classify and ship it properly. Keeping your training certifications current will also help you stay ahead of changing regulations.
  • Pressure-test your packaging: If you are shipping liquid material by air, conducting a pressure test will ensure it is suitable and safe for air transport.
  • Be upfront on all shipping papers: For airlines, shipping companies and other carriers to ensure safety when transporting your goods, you need to make complete declarations for each biohazardous material.

Biohazard Shipping Training With Hazmat School

Biohazard Shipping Training With Hazmat School

Transporting dangerous goods can present numerous risks for your company. By adhering to strict safety guidelines when packaging and shipping biohazards, you will save your company money, time and concerns for others’ well-being. Hazmat School is your source for trusted and current shipping and transportation education that meets a rigorous standard.
When you need your employees to complete essential and mandatory training, you can rely on us to provide reliable, efficient and accurate instruction. Contact Hazmat School today for more information or to inquire about our classes.
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