In addition to shipping items efficiently and affordably, another important aspect of cargo handling is safety. There are federal and state laws regarding the shipping of items in plane, ship and train cargo holds. You will also need to keep in mind local regulations as well as international laws if you ship across national borders. These six cargo shipping safety practices will help to keep your employees and clients safe throughout the process of packing, loading, transporting and unloading cargo.
Labeling Pallets and Containers
Proper labeling of pallets and containers of cargo is not only required by law, but essential to safety. Your containers should identify any hazardous materials. The labels should also explain whether special handling is required. Be sure to include labeling information about which end should be up and whether there are fragile items inside of the cargo containers or pallets.
Handling Dry Ice
If your cargo shipments must be kept cold, you will need to use dry ice. Be sure to only work with the dry ice in well-ventilated areas, explains the University of Rochester’s website. The dry ice evaporates at temperatures higher than -114 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also wear thick protective gloves when handling dry ice because it can cause frostbite in a short period of time.
Preventing Shifting Contents
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website, shifting contents in cargo containers can cause serious injuries or even death. You can work to prevent the contents of your cargo from shifting by packing heavy items on the bottom of the container. You can also employ specialty storage systems with racks and clamps to prevent heavy items such as stone slabs from shifting during transport.
Protecting Fragile Items
Protecting fragile items is important to safety during the unloading and packing process. Cushioning materials such as packing peanuts, foam, crumpled newspaper or inflated bags of air help to prevent items from cracking into sharp pieces or shards that could injure the person doing the unloading and unpacking of the cargo.
Lifting and Loading Safely
Lifting and loading your cargo during the shipping process also requires attention to safety. Fork lifts are often used for cargo handling. Be sure to follow all safety procedures to avoid causing injury to the forklift operator and people in the vicinity of the cargo that is being moved. Pallets should be properly wrapped to prevent items from coming loose during the lifting and loading processes.
Packing for Safety
Pallets should not exceed the recommended weight that the base can support. Be sure to pack pallets and containers evenly and with the heaviest items on the bottom. Consider using doubled containers with space in case of leaks from pressurized fluids.