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The IMDG Code – everything you wanted to know

For our current and future customers and anybody who’s interested in knowing what the IMDG Code is all about, here’s an overview that seeks to explain this in simple terms, for practical business applications.

1. What is the IMDG code?

The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code contains provisions for the safe carriage of dangerous goods by sea.

The key objectives are:

Protect human life.
Prevent marine pollution
Facilitate the free movement of dangerous goods.

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.

The UN Model regulations provide a uniform set of safety procedures covering consignment and transport issues such as classification, identification, packing, marking and labeling, documentation, security and training.
2. What are dangerous goods and why are they useful?

Dangerous goods are substances or articles that 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 common.

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 depends.

3. What are the different types of dangerous goods?

For transport purposes, dangerous goods are allocated to one of nine “classes”, according to the main danger they present. These are as follows:

Class 1 – Explosives
Class 2 – Gases
Class 3 – Flamable Liquids
Class 4 – Flammable solids and other flammable substances
Class 5 – Oxidising substances and organs perodixes
Class 6 – Toxic and infectious substances
Class 7 – Radioactive material
Class 8 – Corrosive substances
Class 9 – Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles

Many of these classes are sub-divided. For, example, toxic substances are allocated to Class 6.1; infectious substances are allocated to Class 6.2

Substances or articles are classified as “dangerous goods” for sea shipments if they meet the criteria prescribed in the IMDG Code for any of these classes. The danger(s) presented by a particular substance or articles determine the safe transport procedures for it; e.g. the way it needs to be packed, whether it can be loaded in the same freight container as other dangerous goods, where it needs to be stored within the port or stowed on board the ship.

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