There are 9 main classes of dangerous goods. Dangerous goods can present 1 or more of the hazards represented by Class 1 to 9 with some classes split into divisions.
You can find safety data sheets (SDS) available from the manufacturer for specific chemicals and dangerous goods. They are a useful tool for people to ensure that they are sending the goods under the correct classification. Contact the manufacturer if you don’t have an SDS for a dangerous good.
Companies manufacturing their own products will often require a chemist or other specialist to determine that the product is correctly classified.
Hazard labels for dangerous goods
Under regulations, labels must be clearly visible on the outside of the package and must stay on the package while in transit.
You can often find labels printed on most inner packages such as:
- aerosol cans
- bottles of bleach
- containers of thinners
- tins of paint
- many other products which are available at supermarkets and hardware stores.
Below are the 9 hazard labels for the 9 classes of dangerous goods.
Class 1 Explosives
This includes items such as:
- explosive substances
- pyrotechnic devices
Class 2 Gases
These can be transported as:
- refrigerated liquefied
- gas in solution.
This includes aerosols. Class 2 has 3 divisions:
- Division 2.1 - flammable gases such as:
- Division 2.2 - non-flammable, non-toxic gases such as:
- liquid nitrogen
- compressed air
- Division 2.3 - toxic gases such as:
- hydrogen sulphide.
Class 3 Flammable liquids
This includes liquids with a boiling point of 35⁰ C or less, or a flash point of 60⁰ C or less such as:
- essential oils
- hand sanitiser
Class 4 Flammable solids
These are substances that can spontaneously combust and substances, that when they come into contact with water or emit flammable gases. Class 4 has 3 divisions:
- Division 4.1 - flammable solids such as:
- hexamine solid fuel tablets for camping stoves
- self-reactive substances
- desensitised explosives
- Division 4.2 - substances that can spontaneously combust under normal air transport conditions include:
- Division 4.3 - substances that emit flammable gases when they come into contact with water include:
- zinc particles
- activated carbon.
Class 5 Oxidising substances and organic peroxides
These substances are not necessarily combustible on their own but can react dangerously with other substances. Class 5 has 2 divisions:
- Division 5.1 - oxidising substances that may not be necessarily combustible, but they may readily yield oxygen and cause other materials to combust, such as:
- hydrogen peroxide
- ammonium nitrate
- potassium chlorate
- sodium nitrate
- Division 5.2 - organic peroxides are thermally unstable and can emit heat and give off harmful or flammable vapours. They can also be liable to explosive decomposition and react dangerously with other substances. Examples are:
- acetyl acetone peroxide
- benzoyl peroxide
- peracetic acid.
Class 6 Toxic and infectious substances
These substances can cause sickness, injury or death if consumed. Class 6 has 2 divisions:
- Division 6.1 - toxic substances that can cause death, injury or to harm human health if swallowed, inhaled or by skin contact, such as:
- cytotoxic waste
- barium compounds
- Division 6.2 - infectious substances that contain or are expected to contain pathogens that can cause disease in humans or animals, including:
- medical or clinical waste
- patient specimens
- genetically modified organisms
- infectious substances
- infected animals.
Class 7 Radioactive materials
These are substances that emit invisible ionising radiation that can be harmful to humans and animals. It can cause objects such as aircraft and equipment to become contaminated if not packaged and handled correctly, such as:
- radioactive ores
- x-ray equipment
- medical equipment or parts.
Class 8 Corrosives
These substances can cause irreversible damage if they come into contact with skin and could destroy other freight, or materially damage containers or aircraft. This includes:
- corrosive cleaners
- battery fluid
- hydrofluoric acid.
Class 9 Miscellaneous
These are substances and articles which, during air transport, present a danger not covered by other classes. There are 2 types of handling labels – 1 for lithium battery shipments, and another for all other miscellaneous dangerous goods. This class includes:
- lithium batteries
- battery powered vehicles
- battery powered equipment
- first aid kids
- environmentally hazardous substances
- dry ice
- magnetised materials
In addition to hazard labels, trained staff must attach handling labels where needed. Staff must use these 4 handling labels with the appropriate hazard labels:
Cargo aircraft only
This label is used to show that the load cannot be carried on a passenger aircraft.
This label is used on liquefied gases, such as the ones in Class 2.
This way up
This label ensures a load is placed the correct way up and can be used for non-dangerous goods.
This label ensures that the load is kept away from the aircraft compass detector unit while being loaded and unloaded.