All at sea about IMDG? Here’s your essential guide to IMDG training – what it is and who needs it.

International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code is the international guideline for safe shipment of dangerous goods or hazardous materials by water. The Code is designed to protect crew members and prevent pollution and is intended for use by all of those involved in the shipping or dangerous goods or hazardous materials – not just the mariner. So if you’re participating in any way with the transport and shipping of dangerous goods and hazardous materials then IMDG training is for you.

What are dangerous goods and hazardous materials?

Hazardous materials are the ones that can have short- or long-term health effects and that is how they are classified. They might be solids, liquids or gases, pure substances or mixtures. When used in the workplace they might produce vapours, fume, dusts and mists and could be industrial, laboratory or agricultural chemicals. Exposure to hazardous materials can result in:

  • Poisoning
  • Irritation
  • Chemical burns
  • Sensitisation
  • Cancer
  • Birth defects
  • Diseases of certain organs such as skin, lungs, liver, kidneys and nervous system.

Dangerous goods, on the other hand, are classified according to their immediate physical or chemical effects like fire, explosion, corrosion and poisoning, affecting property, the environment or people.

Either way, mishandling hazardous materials or dangerous goods is bad news. So no wonder there are so many rules and regulations about how we work with and transport such nasty stuff.

Classification is key

Because transporting dangerous cargo is a process fraught with risk, learning how to categorise the goods and associated level of danger is an important part of IMDG training. There are nine classifications which identify the dangerous or hazardous materials and the risks associated with them as follows:

  • Classification 1 is for explosives – they might be a low or high explosive risk
  • Classification 2 is for gases – they might be toxic, inflammable or neither
  • Classification 3 is for liquids
  • Classification 4 is for solids – they might be combustible, toxic or self reactive
  • Classification 5 is for substances that may oxidise
  • Classification 6 is for substances that are toxic
  • Classification 7 is specifically for radioactive materials
  • Classification 8 is for materials that can corrode or erode
  • Classification 9 is for any other substance that cannot otherwise be classified but is deemed dangerous or hazardous.

 What are some of the main features of IMDG knowledge?

Every crew member engaged on a ship and involved directly with dangerous cargo must understand a variety of important points from the IMDG Code including:

  • How to classify dangerous goods and identify the shipping names of dangerous goods
  • How the dangerous cargo should be packed
  • The different types of markings, labels and placards used to identify various dangerous goods
  • Safe practices for loading and unloading cargo containing dangerous goods
  • How to interpret transport documents accompanying dangerous goods
  • How to handle dangerous goods when the ship is on its voyage
  • The best practice to contain and fight fire involving dangerous cargo on a ship
  • Prepare dangerous good loading/stowage plans taking in to consideration ship stability and emergency preparedness
  • Prepare correct dangerous goods declarations for port authorities and land transit purposes

What’s with all the amendments?

The IMDG code was created following recommendations of the United Nations and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The first report was produced in 1956 and the code started being drafted in 1961.

Obviously there have been huge changes and development in maritime transportation over the decades since then and the code has to stay up to date with those changes, as does training. That’s why AlertForce offers the most up to date training in IMDG so you are on top of the latest amendments to the Code. Our courses are compliant to Amendment 38-16 of the IMDG Code. This amendment became mandatory on 1st January 2018 and refresher training must be done every two years by those who have completed initial training.

Since 2010, training has also been compulsory for shore-based personnel engaged in the sea transport of dangerous goods.

So whether you have never received dangerous goods training before, are looking to update or refresh your qualifications, or need to update your training to cover the latest amendments, AlertForce has got you covered. Make sure your sea legs are safe before you hit the high seas and give us a call today to discuss training options.

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