Daphne Allen

January 6, 2016

4 Min Read
Are you packaging dangerous goods?

A recent survey of shipping executives on the transport of hazardous materials – also called dangerous goods (DG) – finds that the majority (59%) of respondents find it challenging to keep up with ever-changing DG regulations.

The survey, conducted by Labelmaster, reached 136 dangerous goods transport professionals who completed an online survey in April 2015.

Many pharmaceuticals are manufactured from substances that are classified as DG, and medical devices, too, may contain elements that might be classified as DG, explains Bob Richard, Vice President of Regulatory and Government Services at Labelmaster, in an email to PMP News.

“In many cases, the finished products are also dangerous goods and need to be shipped according to the applicable regulations. Products also used in the animal health care business can equally meet the definition of dangerous goods, such as flea and tick treatments,” he explains.


t is important to have employees that are trained and can properly classify, package, mark, and transport regulated dangerous goods, Richard explains. “Don’t assume that a product is not subject to DG regulations. This needs to be determined by a trained and knowledgeable person,” he says.

For instance, “many medical devices are powered by lithium batteries, which are regulated as dangerous goods,” he continues. “The majority of lithium batteries used in medical devices are shipped by air, which poses real challenges because of the restrictions that regulators and airlines impose on lithium battery shipments.” (Labelmaster has put together a Lithium Battery Resources page with information on regulations, compliance and services, infographics, news and events, and more. 

New and pending transportation restrictions could disrupt the medical device supply chain, which could result in untimely shipping of life-sustaining and life-enhancing medical devices to patients, Richard tells PMP News. “Over the past decade, manufacturers of a wide variety of medical devices have turned to lithium battery technology to enhance the power, battery life, and reliability of their products. While lithium cells and batteries are ubiquitous in our technology-forward culture, they are not without their risks. If subject to abnormal conditions, lithium batteries, both lithium metal and lithium ion, are capable of fire, and producing excessive heat and smoke. In response to these risks, regulators imposed requirements on the transport of lithium cells and batteries. These requirements have been modified throughout the years, often resulting in additional restrictions.” 

Further, “automated external defibrillators (AED) are portable medical devices that meet the highest standards and are required equipment aboard commercial passenger planes, per FAA mandate but are regulated DG,” he continues. “Major implantable medical device manufacturers ship both lithium metal and lithium ion batteries that must be transported according to the DG regulations. Lithium metal batteries are non-rechargeable and are commonly used in defibrillators, pacemakers, and neurostimulators.” 

“Between the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Department of Defense, there are literally thousands of regulations governing the shipment of dangerous goods,” reports Robert Finn, vice president of marketing with Labelmaster, in a statement issued by the company. “And, these complex regulations constantly change.

“Following these regulations is essential to ensure the safety of the public, the environment and those who transport dangerous goods,” he added. “Improper packaging or labeling can lead to accidents and fatalities.”

According to Labelmaster, dangerous goods shipping software can provide up-to-date information on the latest regulations, a validation feature to ensure non-compliant shipments can't be executed, and visual explanations for package markings. For more information on regulatory compliance and solutions visit www.labelmaster.com.

Click here for information on regulation of flea and tick products

Click here for information from IATA on lithium batteries

Photo Caption: According to a spokesperson for Labelmaster, the DOT’s HM-224C requires lithium batteries "forbidden" for transport markings on certain shipments of lithium batteries to indicate that they are not permitted to be loaded aboard passenger aircraft. Available in three designs to meet specific needs, the markings are printed on paper or recycled paper to match exacting DOT specifications. The surface mail label is a USPS-compliant battery marking designed to make the process of transporting lithium batteries safer and help shipments of lithium metal batteries comply with the labeling requirement. These labels feature strong adhesion for corrugated boxes. Shipping markings measure 4 x 2 in. or 4 x 6 in. and are sold in rolls of 500.

About the Author(s)

Daphne Allen

Daphne Allen is editor-in-chief of Design News. She previously served as editor-in-chief of MD+DI and of Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News and also served as an editor for Packaging Digest. Daphne has covered design, manufacturing, materials, packaging, labeling, and regulatory issues for more than 20 years. She has also presented on these topics in several webinars and conferences, most recently discussing design and engineering trends at IME West 2024 and leading an Industry ShopTalk discussion during the show on artificial intelligence.

Follow Daphne on X at @daphneallen and reach her at [email protected].

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