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The acronym IMDG refers to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods code, the regulations for transporting potentially hazardous goods by sea. This code’s principles help keep people safe, prevent ship damage and preserve the environment. It includes rules for transporting liquid, solid and gaseous substances. Learn how you can comply with the IMDG code at your organization.
What Is the IMDG Code and Its Importance?
The IMDG code is the international maritime transport guideline, which the International Maritime Organization and the United Nations accept as standard. The 1960 Safety for Life at Sea convention established the code and has amended it several times since. The code helps protect crew members and prevent water pollution. It details standards for packing, transporting, stowing and mixing substances.
What Are the Contents of IMDG Code?
The contents of the code include two main volumes and a supplement. The contents of the first volume include:
- Provisions and definitions.
- Classifications of different dangerous material types.
- Packing and tank regulations.
- Procedures for consignment.
- Rules about constructing and testing liquified flammable gases.
- Transportation requirements.
Within the second volume and the supplement are additional provisions, guidelines and general glossaries. You’ll find all the following in volume two and the supplement:
- A list of dangerous goods.
- Information on exceptions and special provisions.
- A glossary of terms.
- Emergency response guidelines.
- Reporting procedures.
- Procedures regarding pesticide transport and use on ships.
- Guidelines regarding high-level radioactive waste.
How Many Classes Are in IMDG Code?
The IMDG code includes several classifications, each of which describes the regulations for a different hazardous material. IMDG classes encompass various forms of matter, such as liquids, gases and solids. They also categorize materials by types of risk, such as explosives and radioactive materials. The IMDG classifications include the following.
- Classification 1: This classification is for explosive materials. It has multiple subdivisions, depending on the level of risk each substance poses. The highest-risk materials have the strictest transportation guidelines. Examples include fireworks, rockets, ammunition and airbag inflators.
- Classification 2: These guidelines are for gaseous substances. It has subsections for gases that are flammable, not flammable and neither flammable nor toxic. Gases include Freon, propane and aerosols.
- Classification 3: This category is for liquids. It contains guidelines for transporting any dangerous liquid types, such as alcohol, varnish or gasoline.
- Classification 4: This category is for solids. It has three subsections. The first is for combustible solids, the second for self-reactive solids and the third for solids that emit toxic gases when they come in contact with water. Some examples include phosphorus, matches and metal powders.
- Classification 5: This classification deals with any materials that could oxidize, such as chemical oxygen generators or hydrogen peroxide. An oxidizing agent accepts electrons and can result in explosions and fires.
- Classification 6: Classification 6 deals with toxic substances, which could contain microorganisms that can cause disease in humans or animals. Common harmful substances include medical waste and biological specimens.
- Classification 7: This category is for radioactive materials, which have unstable atoms, losing energy and emitting particles as they stabilize. Some radioactive materials are uranium compounds and medical isotopes.
- Classification 8: These guidelines are for corrosive and erosive materials. Corrosion is the destruction of materials through chemical reactions, while erosion is the physical wearing away of materials. Corrosive agents include oxygen and sulfates. Some corrosive or erosive materials include batteries, acids, fire extinguisher charges and formaldehyde.
- Classification 9: The final classification is a catch-all for any unspecified dangerous materials, which could be anything from dry ice to internal combustion engines.
Why the IMDG Code Is Essential
The IMDG code is fundamental for maritime safety. The primary regulatory body for all water-based transportation, the International Maritime Organization, accepts the code. The international regulations outlined in this comprehensive code help accomplish all the following goals:
- Ensuring the well-being of crews aboard ships.
- Protecting the world’s aquatic habitats.
- Controlling the safe transport of dangerous goods in mass volumes and quantities.
- Setting consistent international standards.
Complying with these codes is necessary for anyone who ships hazardous materials by water — following IMDG codes saves lives and helps preserve the natural environment. Failing to meet these codes can result in explosions, boat deterioration, fires, viral diseases and plenty of other undesirable effects. Such effects can harm people, animals and ecosystems. That’s why it’s so vital to follow all IMDG code standards while transporting dangerous materials.
Implementing the IMDG Code at Your Organization
Those who ship dangerous goods to or from the United States must comply with International Maritime Organization regulations, as established in the IMDG code and codes set forth by the Department of Transportation. To implement IMDG codes at your organization, you’ll need to take the following steps.
- Stay informed: It’s vital to review all IMDG codes relevant to your operation. You should buy a few hard copies and make them available to your employees. To be aware of any updates, you can also subscribe to the online version.
- Train all your employees: IMDG compliance requires training from an expert instructor. All employees who handle dangerous materials should undergo expert training before they start working. They’ll also need refresher courses every three years. Choose a class with combined instruction on DOT and IMDG regulations to save time and money. Training will teach employees how to identify hazardous material classifications and minimize all possible safety risks.
- Complete all standardized forms: Finally, you’ll need to fill out all mandatory forms, disclosing information about the dangerous goods you handle. Completing this paperwork fully and correctly will make shipping safer for everyone.
Contact Hazmat School for IMDG Compliance Training
IMDG compliance is necessary for liability reasons, but is also crucial for employee safety and environmentalism. The codes laid out by the IMDG keep sailors and cargo handlers safe from the disasters dangerous materials can cause. They also keep waters as unpolluted as possible, preserving aquatic ecosystems and ensuring clear passage routes. If you package goods for shipment or ship goods yourself, you’ll need the DOT and IMDG Hazmat School course.
At Hazmat School, we provide comprehensive compliance training for individuals and organizations. We offer courses at competitive prices, and our remote instructors are available 24/7 to help you understand all the material. We can help your company earn IMDG certification for any hazardous material handling. To learn more about the courses we offer, contact us today!