UN Dangerous Goods Transport Recommendations

The transport of dangerous goods (DGs) is regulated both at international and national levels.

The U.N. Recommendations concerning the transport of dangerous goods – commonly called “Orange Book” – are presented in the form of “Model Regulations,” developed by the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. The objective of these recommendations is to prevent accidents to persons or property and damage to the environment during transportation. They are updated every two years.

The recommendations cover principles of classification and definition of classes, listing of the principal dangerous goods, general packaging requirements, testing procedures, labeling/placarding and marking, and preparation of transport documents. They create a uniform regulatory international framework for all modes of transport (road, rail, inland waters, sea in packaged form and air). They do not apply to the bulk transport of dangerous goods in sea-going or inland navigation bulk carriers or tank-vessels (which is subject to MARPOL Convention).

Highly dangerous and unstable substances are controlled under these regulations. They can be forbidden from transportation if any material which is presented for shipment could explode, dangerously react, produce a flame or dangerous evolution of heat, or produce a dangerous emission of toxic, corrosive or flammable gases or vapors under normal conditions of transport.

Wastes should be transported according to the appropriate class requirements as defined by their hazards and the criteria defined in the U.N. Model Regulations. Wastes not otherwise subject to the U.N. Model Regulations but covered under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal may be transported under Class 9 (entries UN3082 and UN3077).

Hazard identification and classification

The U.N. recommendations define specific information to communicate the identity of a product and its potential hazard(s) while in transport and include, for example:

  • a UN number
  • a proper shipping name
  • a hazard class
  • a packaging group

Transport classification of ExxonMobil fluids in Europe.