Dangerous goods transportation

What is dangerous goods transportation?

According to customer and freight typology, dangerous goods transportation (DGT) can be carried out by road, rail, waterway, sea or air. Regulations are applied to each means of transport. They limit the risk of accidents, that could affect people, goods and the environment.

Each product considered as dangerous is classified according to the hazards it may incur. Each dangerous product has a UN code made up of four numbers, printed in an orange box outlined in black. There are nine categories and sub-categories of dangerous goods, which encompass explosives, flammable gas and liquids, and any other toxic, infectious or radioactive agents.

Specificities of dangerous goods transportation

  • Each dangerous product has its own special packaging, handling, transport, loading, unloading and inspection equipment.
  • All staff, including vehicle drivers, are specially trained by a certified centre.
  • In France, legislation has made it mandatory for an accident declaration related to dangerous goods transportation to be filled in and handed in to the MTMD (dangerous goods transportation division) or ASN (nuclear safety authority);
  • This declaration is sent in via the Cerfa form no. 12252, which includes a section analysing the causes of the accident and preventive actions implemented so it will not happen again.
  • The person in charge of the declaration is the company’s safety advisor, responsible for transport equipment preparation.
  • The United Nations then harmonises all national regulations required for multimodal transport.

Examples and practical applications

Dangerous goods transportation by road

Dangerous goods transportation by road is done in accordance with the rules set out by the European agreement related to the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods (ADR) - ratified by 49 countries.

Dangerous goods transportation by rail

Dangerous goods transportation by rail is governed by the regulation related to the “International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail”, known as the RID. It stems from the work and recommendations issued by the intergovernmental organisation dedicated to international rail transport (OTIF), and was ratified by 46 countries.

Dangerous goods transportation via inland waterways

The ADN agreement (European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Waterways) governs the transport of dangerous goods through waterways. It was drawn up by governments from 18 countries and by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Dangerous goods transportation by sea

International maritime transport is governed by an International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The rules pertaining to the carriage of dangerous goods stem from the articles drafted in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). These rules are stipulated in several international codes, including the IMDG (packaged produce) and IMSBC (bulk solids), amongst others.

Dangerous goods transportation by air

The French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) drafted the rules governing the transportation of dangerous goods by air.

It should be noted that all these modes of transport are subjected to approval by the nuclear safety authority when it comes to transporting radioactive products.

Regulatory cornerstones

  • Articles D. 1252‑1 to D. 1252‑7 of the Transport Code.
  • For rail transport: the RID regulation.
  • For road transport: the European ADR agreement.
  • For waterway transport: the European ADN agreement.
  • For maritime transport: maritime codes and repositories pertaining to the transportation of dangerous goods (packaged and bulk).

For air transport: technical air safety instructions for dangerous goods as drafted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

[1] Source of the figures: https://www.green-innovation.fr/2020/01/06/les-defis-du-transport-de-marchandises-dangereuses-conditionnees-en-colis/