Managing hazardous substances

How to transport hazardous substances


There are various risks involved when transporting hazardous substances. These include damage in transit, loss and theft, fire, explosion, leaks and spills. Many goods are not dangerous themselves, but contain harmful substances which could cause harm to the environment, people or both.

Special rules apply if you transport goods classified as dangerous. The first step is to identify the risks involved and classify your goods.

You should then ensure loads are secure, weight is distributed evenly and you put suitable warning signs on vehicles. If you are transporting dangerous goods by road or rail, you must:

  • use suitable packaging which is labelled so that anyone in contact with it can take appropriate precautions
  • use the appropriate vehicle, container, tank or wagon according to the classification of the goods
  • display certain information, if required, about the goods on the vehicle or container
  • follow proper procedures when goods are being loaded and unloaded

Road vehicles must carry specified types of safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers. You may also need a qualified dangerous goods safety adviser. All drivers must have suitable training, not just to drive their vehicle, but also on what to do if an accident occurs. Drivers need to hold an ADR training certificate.

If you transport other people's waste, or your own construction or demolition waste, you must register with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency as a waste carrier.

If you transport dangerous goods by air, sea, road, rail or inland waterway, you must comply with certain international regulations.

There are some exceptions to the rules, for example small quantities of certain types of dangerous goods are exempt from most regulations.