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Dangerous cargoes are articles or substances which are capable of posing a significant risk to health, safety, property or the environment. If they are not handled properly during shipment, the consequences could be significant.
Today, there is a set of guidelines for transportation of dangerous goods. The International Maritime Organization has developed the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code to accommodate aspects of marine transport, including matters such as packaging, container traffic and stowage. It classifies dangerous goods into nine categories as follows:
Class 1 – Explosives
Class 2 – Gases
Class 3 – Inflammable (flammable) liquids
Class 4 – Inflammable (flammable) solids or substances
Class 5 – Oxidising substances (agents) and organic peroxides
Class 6 – Poisonous (toxic) and infectious substances
Class 7 – Radioactive materials
Class 8 – Corrosives
Class 9 – Miscellaneous dangerous substances
Dangerous goods should be clearly marked with diamond-shaped signage.
Cargo owners owe a duty of care to their cargoes. They should know clearly the nature of their cargoes and inform their carrier accordingly, so the carrier can handle the cargoes appropriately to avoid accident and/or loss.