For more than 50 years, the code in force at international level has been the IMDG Code, drawn up by the IMO, the International Maritime Organisation.
The IMDG Code, whose acronym stands for International Maritime Dangerous Goods, is the international standard that serves as a reference for the carriage of dangerous goods by sea, which is done by providing a uniform set of rules for all member countries of the organisation.
At a national level, in this case in Italy, the point of reference is indicated by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, which delegates its authority in the transport of dangerous goods to the Port Authority.
How the IMDG Code works
The IMDG Code provides the necessary rules for the safe transport of dangerous goods at sea, such as those relating to packaging, hazard criteria, transport conditions, marking of packages and transport units, necessary documentation such as the Multimodal Dangerous Goods Form, transport vehicles, and so on.
According to the Code, which is updated every two years, dangerous goods are distinguished on the basis of different classes and subclasses according to the substances they contain. As specified above, in each class can be found the type of packaging, UN/UN Number, recommendations and operational practice.
Documentation required by the IMDG Code
The shipper must provide data on the goods, i.e. class, type of packaging and UN number. This data will be useful to the shipper in order to assess the risk and feasibility of operations.
The documents that must be provided next are:
- Product Safety Data Sheet: a legal document prepared by the manufacturer of the goods, listing the health risks caused by mishandling the product, the manufacturer’s details and transport instructions.
- Multimodal for Dangerous Goods: a document specific to the transport of dangerous goods by sea, intended for foreign and domestic ports, in which information is provided on the product and manufacturer, the type of transport, the means used and the route taken.
The final decision on the transport of dangerous goods lies with the shipping company. It will be necessary to rely on experts in the field who can carefully assess the type, dangerousness and compatibility of the goods handled in order to guarantee a professional result regardless of the degree of dangerousness of the goods transported.
The classes of dangerous goods in the IMDG Code
Below are the classes of hazardous goods identified by the IMDG Code: