Dangerous Goods? Hazardous Goods? General Goods? What’s the Difference?


To most people, dangerous goods are hazardous and hazardous goods are dangerous — there is no difference. But, when it comes to transporting them, there are differences and they do require separate treatment.

The same goes for general goods, which can simply be treated as anything that isn’t dangerous or hazardous. However, even general goods may need to be handled in a certain way — they may be frozen produce or carried at ambient temperature, they can be bulk items such as grain or coal, or they may be high value, fragile items that have to be treated with great care.

Dangerous and Hazardous Goods — Similarities and Differences

Although dangerous and hazardous are often treated as interchangeable terms, there are differences and these affect the way they are transported and precautions that have to be taken. One definition of hazardous substances is that they are solids, liquids or gases that have the potential to cause immediate or long-term harm to human health. They may produce fumes or vapours that can result in chemical burns, poisoning or irritation in the short-term and can cause cancer, birth defects or serious diseases over longer periods.

Dangerous goods can have immediate physical effects such as explosion, corrosion or fire that can damage property, harm the environment and injure or kill people. They may spontaneously combust or be water reactive and so have to be stored and transported securely. Some hazardous substances are classified as dangerous goods.

All dangerous goods are covered by the Australian Dangerous Goods Code, which has provisions for their safe transport that include classification, vehicle and packaging requirements, segregation and marking, safety notices and equipment, documentation and methods for transfer. All dangerous goods have a United Nations number that should appear on an accompanying Material Safety Data Sheet and are identified within nine classes:

  1. Explosive materials.
  2. Gases that may be flammable or toxic.
  3. Liquids that give off flammable vapours at certain temperatures.
  4. Solids that are highly flammable, likely to spontaneously combust or may emit flammable gases when in contact with water.
  5. Organic pesticides or materials that react with oxygen.
  6. Toxic and infectious substances such as arsenic, cyanide, pathology specimens and vaccines.
  7. Radioactive materials.
  8. Corrosive liquids and solids, such as acids and mercury, that will cause damage to living tissue and materials.
  9. Miscellaneous other items, such as asbestos, chain saws and anaesthetics, that may pose a danger.

Delivering all Goods Safely and Securely

At FCB Logistics, we’re used to carrying all types of goods in various quantities and to numerous destinations. For hazardous and dangerous goods, we comply with national and state legislation as well as with WHO regulations. This means we:

  • have a fleet of vehicles suitable for carrying all classes of goods, whether in bulk, containerised, palletised or other forms
  • have all vehicles correctly labelled with necessary warning notices and safety signs
  • maintain records of hazardous and dangerous goods we store and transport
  • identify risks and ensure the stability of consignments
  • provide the necessary safety training and supervision for workers
  • monitor the health and well-being of employees and ensure exposure limits are not exceeded
  • have an emergency plan to deal with incidents and ensure all employees are familiar with it
  • make available equipment for fire protection, fire fighting and to deal with emergencies
  • ensure hazardous and dangerous materials are stored and transported safely in line with safety data sheet specifications
  • keep up-to-date with guidance and legislation, adapting our procedures accordingly.

Our aim is to eliminate risks when possible and minimise them when not. Whatever the type of goods you want to be stored and transported, we’ll handle them to the best of our ability and ensure your goods reach their destination safely and on time.

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