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Order Fulfilment of Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT): Guide to Safe and Compliant Shipping
Order fulfilment

Order Fulfilment of Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT): Guide to Safe and Compliant Shipping

Alka Baranwal
January 25, 2024
mins read


Did you know that everyday items like paint, nail polish, dry shampoo, hair spray, perfume, batteries, and e-cigarettes are classified as dangerous goods? If you engage in online sales of these products, you will encounter difficulties in shipping and fulfilling them.

You might assume that "hazardous" or "dangerous" products refer to things like nuclear waste and highly toxic chemicals. However, the category includes a wide range of ordinary items. Why is that? It's because those who handle or store these products, whether in an e-commerce warehouse or on a truck, plane, or ship, could suffer injuries if the product drops, breaks, spills, or comes into contact with another substance.

Fulfilment of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) is a complex and heavily regulated process. These products are among the most challenging and expensive to transport. Due to their potential to harm people, property, or the environment, various rules and regulations should be adhered to transport them safely.

You must be wondering how to ensure and follow every single thing. Don't worry, we got you covered!

In this blog, you will learn what hazardous materials are (HAZMAT), what products are classified as HAZMAT, how the fulfilment of hazardous materials works and HAZMAT fulfilment with Eshopbox.

What are hazardous materials (HAZMAT)?

Hazardous materials, also known as dangerous goods, include solids, liquids, or gases that have the potential to cause harm to humans, other living beings, property, or the environment if they are stored, shipped, or mishandled.

Now, let’s have a detailed look at all the products, materials, and substances that constitute HAZMAT.

What products are classified as HAZMAT?

HAZMAT products are broken into the following nine classes:

1. Explosives

These products are likely to explode under certain conditions. These include explosives with a mass explosion hazard, a projection hazard, predominantly a fire hazard, no significant blast hazard, very insensitive explosives, and highly insensitive explosive articles. For example, ammunition, gunpowder, fireworks, airbag inflators, and seat belt pretensioners.

2. Gases

These products contain gases that are dangerous when inhaled or when they make contact with a surface. These include flammable, non-flammable, poisonous, and corrosive gases. For example, aerosols (spray paint, household cleaners, bathroom sprays, and spray cosmetics such as hair care products, deodorants, and perfumes), propane tanks, lighters, pepper spray, scuba tanks, self-inflating rafts, and fire extinguishers.

3. Flammable liquids

These are the liquids that ignite and cause a fire. These include products with flashpoints below -18°C, above -18°C, less than 23°C, above 23°C and up to 61°C.

For example, nail polish, lighter refills, oil-based paints, paint thinner, varnish, and products containing gasoline.

4. Flammable solids

Solid products that will ignite and cause a fire. These include flammable solids, spontaneously combustible materials, and materials that are dangerous when wet.

For example, matches, sulfur, coal, fish oil, potassium, sodium, and sodium batteries.

5. Oxidisers or organic peroxides

These are chemicals that readily yield oxygen in reactions and end up increasing fire. These include oxidisers and organic peroxides.

For example, ammonium nitrate fertilisers, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, chlorine, and sodium nitrate.

6. Toxic and infectious substances

These substances can cause death, serious injury, or harm to humans if inhaled or swallowed. These include poisonous materials and etiologic (infectious) materials.

For example, biomedical waste (e.g., blood samples and used needles), arsenic, pesticides, and nicotine.

7. Radioactive material

The material or combination of materials that continuously emit ionising radiation. These include materials that have an activity greater than 0.002 microcuries per gram.

For example, medical isotopes, radioactive medicines, isotopes used in research (Carbon-14, etc.), X-ray machines, and depleted uranium.

8. Corrosives

Materials that can cause visible destruction or irreversible alteration to human skin. These also include a liquid with a severe corrosion rate on steel and aluminium.

For example, drain cleaners, paint and paint strippers, mercury thermometers, barometers, products include sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide, and NiCad batteries.

9. Miscellaneous hazardous materials

These products and materials are hazardous during transport but are not included in another hazardous freight classification.

For example, dry ice, lithium-ion batteries, vehicles, and first-aid kits.

When selling on marketplaces like Amazon, they provide guides to classify your products under HAZMAT.

How order fulfilment of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) works?

Failure to comply with hazardous material shipping requirements can incur significant costs. The concerned institutions have established specific fines for companies that violate these laws. Even a minor mistake in a regular shipment can lead to fines reaching six figures and even getting banned from shipping hazardous materials (HAZMAT) products. That's why it's crucial to stick to a safe and compliant process:

1. Classify the material under 9 classes

When shipping hazardous materials (HAZMAT), it is mandatory by law to provide a product safety data sheet (SDS) to those responsible for handling dangerous materials. The SDS serves as a guide to help workers familiarize themselves with the materials and prevent mishandling. For instance, if you're selling nail polish. It will fall under Class 3: Flammable liquids.

2. Vet courier companies

Some courier companies like FedEx, UPS, and DHL provide shipping options for hazardous materials (HAZMAT). While each carrier has specific rules, you can also ask your courier company about any additional HAZMAT shipping requirements before shipping them.

3. Use appropriate packaging

Depending on the product type, there are specific laws for how you package HAZMAT products. For instance, if your product contains a dangerous liquid. You can store it in steel, aluminum, or plastic drums.

4. Label your package correctly

When dealing with hazardous materials, it is crucial to adhere to the appropriate regulations for labelling. Depending on factors such as class, ID number, weight, and more, specific methods exist for marking, labelling, and placarding these materials. Even the correct orientation of arrows can determine whether a product can be shipped.

5. Prepare for documentation such as shipping papers

Certain courier companies may need additional paperwork for shipping hazardous materials (HAZMAT) based on the material being transported. This paperwork includes details such as the UN identification number, proper shipping name, hazard class, packing group, quantity, number and type of packages, emergency contact information, and shipper's certification. Preparing and providing all the requested documents is vital to ensure a smooth and timely shipment without any delays or complications.

Finally, your orders can be shipped and delivered to the customers appropriately.

HAZMAT order fulfilment with Eshopbox

Eshopbox is a third-party logistics (3PL) company that helps e-commerce businesses store inventory, pick and pack products, and ship orders to customers' doorsteps. Eshopbox can work with brands that sell HAZMAT products and ship orders domestically despite some limitations.

1. Eshopbox complies with regulations

Eshopbox prides itself on meeting regulatory requirements. The fulfilment centres are certified to meet local, state, and federal laws to fulfil HAZMAT products. Even the manpower is trained to handle HAZMAT products.

2. Prohibited and restricted products

Prohibited products: Explosive or hazardous products

Restricted products: Products with radioactive material and chemical items

3. Conditional use products

To send certain products to Eshopbox's fulfilment centres, the brand must first obtain written approval from Eshopbox. These products have specific attributes that demand special attention or may have service limitations from Eshopbox. In such cases, the user must sign product-specific documents or addendums before the products can be processed.

Hazardous or dangerous products, including:

  • Aerosols and flammable liquids
  • Perfumes and fragrances
  • Weapons and knives
  • Adult, “Adult use only”, adult-oriented, or adult-themed products requiring special handling, including any products containing adult-themed packaging or images
  • Products containing perishables or liquids of any kind
  • Posters or flyers that require rolling or packaging to prevent crushing
  • Temperature and pressure-sensitive products
  • Products that are subject to approval, certification, licensing or other regulatory requirements in the jurisdiction in which Shipwire will handle the products (e.g., without limitation, some products intended for internal consumption or application to a body)

Wrapping up

The process of shipping hazardous materials is intricate and costly. Due to the extensive rules and regulations, ensure you have the necessary paperwork and thorough research completed before embarking on the shipping process. Alternatively, you have the option to partner with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) such as Eshopbox, which specializes in handling order fulfilment for hazardous materials in a secure and responsible manner.

Connect with our fulfilment expert today.

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