What are dangerous goods and why are they
Dangerous goods or hazmat are substances or articles which can
pose a threat to people, property and/or the environment. They can
exist in three physical states - as a solid, liquid or gas - and
can present a range of dangers in a transport environment -
flammability, toxicity (poisonous) and corrosivity being the most
The physical state and properties affect packing, handling and
transport decisions. Many dangerous goods are essential in
the manufacture of other products such as cars, plastics,
electronics and pharmaceuticals on which progress and world trade
What is the IMDG Code?
The IMDG Code is produced by the International Maritime
Organization (IMO), a specialist United Nations (UN) agency
responsible for developing and maintaining regulatory frameworks
for sea transport. The Code's provisions are based on
recommendations developed by the UN. These are published in
the UN 'Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods', known
as the 'Model Regulations' because the document provides a
framework of rules for the safe transport of dangerous goods by all
modes - air, road and rail as well as sea. The UN Model
Regulations provide a uniform set of safety procedures covering
consignment and transport issues such as classification,
identification, packing, marking and labelling, documentation,
security and training.
The IMDG Code's requirements apply to all ships which are
subject to the following two conventions:
International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974
(SOLAS 1974) - this covers the safety implications of dangerous
goods onboard ships; and International Convention for the
Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) - which covers the
pollution aspects for ships carrying dangerous goods.
The IMDG Code amplifies the relevant safety and pollution
prevention provisions of these Conventions. Most of the
requirements in the IMDG Code apply on a mandatory basis but there
are a few provisions which are recommendatory.
The IMDG Code is applied automatically by the governments of all
the States which are members of SOLAS, and has a worldwide
application to the movement of dangerous goods by sea. While some
SOLAS Member Governments incorporate the requirements of the IMDG
Code without amendment into their national legislation, others
apply some different and/or additional (usually more stringent)
The IMDG Code requires certain provisions to be followed
whenever dangerous goods are shipped by sea. These provisions
require that dangerous goods are correctly and safely:
• Classified and identified
• Marked, labelled and placarded
• Stowed on board the vessel
• Segregated from other goods with which they may react
Appropriate emergency response information must be made
The Code also contains security requirements designed to
minimise the opportunity for terrorists to access and misuse
Hazcheck Systems are
compliance systems for those involved in the shipment of dangerous
goods by sea in containers. There is a range of systems for
every link in the sea transport chain.
The IMDG Code also states that appropriate IMDG Code
training must be given to all personnel involved in the
transport of dangerous goods by sea.
Which is the current IMDG Code Amendment?
IMDG Code 2016 (Amdt 38-16) is the current version. A new
IMDG Code Amendment is published every two years. Each Amendment is
valid for up to three years. IMDG Code 2016 (Amdt 38-16) came into
force on 1 January 2018 and can be used until 31 December 2019.
From 1 January 2019 the next Amendment (Amdt 39-18) can be used on
a voluntary basis until it comes into force from 1 January 2020.
The years before an Amendment comes into force on a mandatory basis
are known as transition years when either the current or newly
published Amendment may be used. See the Amendment Cycle for more
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IMDG Code Introduction - a free overview of the IMDG