As the digital marketplace expands globally, packaging and shipping dangerous goods is no longer just an industry concern—it’s everyone’s business. With regulations that aim to balance the safety of citizens and the environment, it’s crucial to understand the intricate dos and don’ts of handling such materials.

If you run a small e-commerce business or manage a large logistics operation, here’s what you need to know when it comes to packaging hazardous cargo for shipping.

Introduction: The High Stakes of Hazardous Packaging

When it comes to shipping dangerous goods, it’s not a game of chance—your packaging decisions can mean the difference between safe arrival at the intended destination and a serious incident.

Before jumping into the dos and don’ts, it’s essential to grasp what we mean by “dangerous goods.” This term encompasses materials that, due to their chemical or physical properties, could pose risks to people, property, or the environment. To regulate their shipping, the industry relies on international agreements such as the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.

These materials are divided into various classes, including explosives, flammable gases, toxic substances, infectious materials, and more. Each class demands distinct packaging and handling for safe transport.

Dos of Packaging Dangerous Goods for Shipping

Use of Certified Packaging Materials

Not all boxes and containers are created equal. Using UN-certified and durable dangerous goods packaging, specific to the class of dangerous goods you’re shipping, is non-negotiable.

These containers have undergone rigorous testing to ensure they can withstand the unique challenges of dangerous goods transportation, including pressure changes, impacts, and chemical interactions. Remember, using the right packaging doesn’t just protect the goods; it also safeguards those handling the shipment and the environment.

Proper Labeling and Documentation

Correctly labelling your packages isn’t just for the organisation—it’s a critical safety measure. Each hazardous material must be properly labelled with the appropriate warnings and identifiers specific to its class, complete with standardized hazard symbols.

Accurate documentation, such as a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) or a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), is equally vital. This paperwork provides comprehensive information about the material, from its chemical composition to safe handling procedures. By doing so, you’re not just abiding by the law; you’re ensuring that everyone in the supply chain is aware of the potential risks.

Securing Goods to Prevent Shifting

The last thing you want is for your shipment to arrive at its destination in a jumble. This is even more critical when dangerous goods are involved. Securing items inside their packaging can prevent them from shifting during transit, which could lead to the activation of hazardous properties. This could mean packaging in absorbent materials to manage spills, filling void space to eliminate movement, or even using partitioning to keep different materials separate.

Don’ts of Packaging Dangerous Goods for Shipping

Using Inadequate or Damaged Packaging

Using old, worn-out boxes or containers that are incompatible with the materials can lead to leaks, spills, and worse during shipping. Always opt for new or well-maintained packaging that is free from defects, especially for dangerous goods. Regular inspection for any damage or wear and tear is essential—after all, a container is only as strong as its weakest spot.

Ignoring Labeling and Documentation Requirements

It’s not just about slapping on a label and calling it a day. The label must be correct, legible, and firmly affixed. Likewise, documentation requirements must be met for every shipment. Neglecting these crucial steps isn’t just risky; it’s illegal and can result in serious consequences, including fines and loss of reputation.

Mixing Incompatible Materials

Certain dangerous goods can react with materials they come into contact with. Chemical reactions can lead to fires, explosions, and the release of toxic substances. To avoid catastrophic events, do not mix different dangerous goods in the same packaging. Use separate and distinct packaging for each hazardous material to maintain integrity and prevent interactions.


Compliance with dangerous goods shipping regulations is not just a matter of ticking boxes; it’s about a commitment to public safety, environmental protection, and professionalism. By following the dos and avoiding the don’ts, you’ll not only ensure the safe and legal transport of hazardous materials, but you’ll also build trust with your customers and partners.

Additional Resources and Tools for Packaging

For those dealing with hazardous materials, staying informed about the latest regulations and best practices is an ongoing endeavour. Look to industry publications, professional networks, and regulatory bodies for up-to-date information. Additionally, several online tools can help you determine the correct packaging and labelling requirements for your specific dangerous goods.

Remember, proper packaging isn’t just a guideline—it’s a responsibility. By prioritizing safety and compliance, you’re not just protecting your business interests, but you’re contributing to a safer, more secure global trade environment.