Dangerous Goods vs Hazardous Materials?
Posted on: 24 March 2020 by Emma Parsons
Do some hazardous goods count as dangerous goods? Are there any hazardous goods that are not dangerous? The terms dangerous and hazardous may seem interchangeable, but the truth is there is a very well-defined difference that enables you to classify items by their effects. In this article, you will learn what hazardous and dangerous means, and you will see examples of each.
Definition of Terms
Items classified as dangerous goods are substances or articles that are capable of posing a risk to health, property, safety, or the environment. They are defined by their immediate effects such as ‘explosive’ or ‘poison’. Items capable of causing damage in the moment are considered dangerous.
Those classified as hazardous materials or substances pose a risk to human life or living things in the environment over the short or long term, and are listed specifically listed in the Work Safe Regulations. Medical and infectious materials are often defined as hazardous.
The line between hazardous and dangerous seems to blur in different situations. For example, things that are considered hazardous on a job site be fairly harmless in real life. Then there are different definitions of dangerous when shipping via the ocean as well as when travelling by aeroplane. Even things like packaging may be considered dangerous or hazardous in certain shipping scenarios.
Just because an item isn't dangerous or hazardous, it doesn't mean it is not prohibited or even illegal. For example, your hunting knife is not going to cause corrosion, disease, or explosions, but the airlines still won't let you take it on as carry-on luggage.
Types of Dangerous Goods
To classify something as dangerous, it needs to have an immediate physical or chemical effect. This could involve explosion, corrosion, poisoning, fire, or similar effects that will cause damage to humans in the environment.
A device like a gun is not considered to be a dangerous good, but it is prohibited in many countries and on most types of flights. It is only considered a dangerous good in prison, where even a broken shaving blade is considered a dangerous good. More common dangerous goods are chemicals in the workplace, that may need to be stored in a special area or cabinet based on their description to reduce risk and protect others. See Storemasta for more information on safe work practices.
Types of Hazardous Materials
A hazardous good is classified by its health effect. This health effect can be immediate or over the long term. For example, liquid mercury is very poisonous if it comes in contact with human skin, so it is considered hazardous because it has a negative short-term effect. On the other hand, asbestos is also called a hazardous material because it negatively affects human and animal health over the long term.
Some items are considered hazardous and dangerous, such as sulfuric acid or liquid nitrogen, and in these cases, they are often termed as hazardous before being termed as dangerous. However, since these materials cross both lines, they are legally bound to have their ill-effects listed on warning signs on their containers.
What to Look Out for in Your Workspace to Stay Safe
The best advice is to never take anything for granted. The most gruesome building-yard accidents are usually through a complete lack of environmental awareness because employees thought that the health and safety rules were protecting them.
The best way to stay safe is to follow corporate rules on safety, from lifting with your back with bent knees, to correctly labelling liquids after using them. From not leaving motors running while you are on break, to checking the weight limit of each machine before use. For awareness of workplace hazards by industry, check here.
What to Look Out for at Home to Stay Safe
According to CFA Victoria, the top 3 causes of fires are cooking (28%), electrical (25%) and heating (17%). Get into a routine of being overly safe, and even during a rushed panic, you will still make the correct choices.
For example, you check to see if your doors are locked before going to bed because you do it out of habit, and you could do a similar thing by checking your heating is off before leaving the house, or checking your oven is off before you eat a meal.
Overall, it is most important that you help create a safe workplace or household for your family by properly handling dangerous goods and hazardous substances. Use these tips to keep yourself safe, and know the difference when trying to identify items.