10 Tips: Avoiding Compliance Pitfalls

10 Tips: Avoiding Compliance Pitfalls

Shipping dangerous goods (DG) safely and compliantly is complex and challenging, and can have a significant effect on your supply chain. Here are 10 ways to avoid compliance issues.

1. Know what you’re shipping. Businesses often don’t realize they’re shipping DG. Know what goods are classified as dangerous—you might be surprised that items ranging from medical devices and cell phones to nail polish and perfume are regulated when being transported.

2. Maintain current safety data sheets. A product’s components, dimensions, and origins impact every process required for safe and compliant shipping, including packaging, labels, documentation, employee training, and more. Maintain current safety data sheets with complete and accurate information for all products you ship to help ensure you comply with all shipping regulations.

3. Keep up to date with regulations. Regulations can differ based on quantity, country, and transportation mode, and can continue to change. So don’t just assume that what was correct one year ago is correct today; stay up to date on the latest regulations to make the necessary changes to your shipping operations.

4. Automate compliance processes. Manual compliance processes are inefficient and can lead to errors that bring about delays, penalties and other interruptions. DG technology can automate and streamline the shipping process by producing documentation, validating shipments against the latest regulations, and more. You can then implement these repeatable and reliable processes across all locations, departments, and supply chain partners.

5. Don’t assume functionality. Many transportation and warehouse management systems and enterprise resource planning platforms lack the functionality required to fully address dangerous goods shipping processes. Don’t assume your existing systems have the compliance capabilities you need. You may need additional DG-specific software that can often integrate into your existing platforms.

6. Be aware of carrier policy changes. Carriers can impose tighter restrictions than what regulations require, or they can decline shipments altogether. Even if you’re 100% in compliance regarding training, paperwork, and packaging, individual carriers still may not accept your shipment.

7. Invest in quality training. Ensure all employees involved in shipping and handling DG receive the required training in accordance with 49 CFR 172.704. Online interactive and 3D training can help them digest complicated regulations in a more convenient and engaging format. And know where their training records are—that’s the first thing regulators request during an audit.

8. Know what ships with your goods. Compliance doesn’t pertain just to your company’s products; it also pertains to the items shipped with them. This encompasses items such as those used to regulate temperature or track shipments, including dry ice and monitors containing lithium batteries. These are regulated goods themselves and have their own rules and restrictions.

9. Don’t forget about returns. Return shipments must comply with the same hazmat rules as items shipped to consumers, and it’s the shipper’s responsibility to ensure compliance. Establish standardized returns management processes, such as providing compliant packaging with the required labels and markings, shipping all returns via ground transportation, and training customer service representatives to answer customers’ questions about return shipments.

10. Consider partnering with an expert. Shipping DG is complicated. Partner with an industry expert to help make sense of the regulations and implement the necessary processes and systems to ensure compliance across your supply chain.

SOURCE: Brian Beetz, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Corporate Responsibility, Labelmaster