Hazardous goods transport: ADR regulations

Dangerous goods transport according to ADR

In France, the transport of dangerous goods is regulated by the decree of May 29, 2009 (TMD decree). This decree strengthens the ADR or European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road. This TMD regulation aims to promote accident prevention, in addition to labor law. The ADR precisely stipulates the rules and obligations applicable to the transport, loading, and unloading of dangerous materials within the national territory and when departing to Europe: packaging, labeling, personal protective equipment (PPE), signage, construction, and circulation of the transport vehicle.

By definition, a dangerous good represents a risk to humans, safety, and the environment. It can be a substance, material, mixture, or object. Every business operator must thoroughly understand the measures to be taken for shipping dangerous goods and the preventive steps during their packaging and transport. Every involved party must have the ADR certificate.

Classification of dangerous goods

The ADR provides a classification of hazardous materials and objects based on their specific risk levels.

There are 9 hazard classes for humans and their subcategories, and 1 class for the environment:
  • Class 1: explosive substances and objects (1.4, 1.5, 1.6)
  • Class 2: gases (flammable gases, non-toxic flammable gases, toxic gases)
  • Class 3: flammable liquids
  • Class 4.1: flammable solid, self-reactive substance, desensitized solid explosive
  • Class 4.2: substances liable to spontaneous combustion
  • Class 4.3: substances that emit flammable gases in contact with water.
  • Class 5: oxidizing substances (5.1)
  • Class 5: organic peroxide (5.2)
  • Class 6: toxic substances (6.1)
  • Class 6: infectious substances (6.2)
  • Class 7: radioactive substances
  • Class 8: corrosive substances
  • Class 9: various dangerous substances and articles
The ADR does not mention some potentially dangerous mixtures or wastes. These goods must be classified into a generic category called UNS (not otherwise specified) or a collective category. This classification is based on their physicochemical properties and the level of danger of the mixture or waste.

Authorized packaging and transport containers according to ADR

Each type of dangerous goods, mixture, or waste must have packaging suitable for its nature and level of hazard. In a strong preventive effort, mastering packaging instructions, and specifically adhering to packaging usage rules, helps prevent accidents:

  • Interaction between the packaging and its contents
  • Overflow or bursting of the packaging due to improper fill level
  • Release of harmful vapors
  • Risk of package crushing during handling
For the secure transport of dangerous goods, specialized ADR-approved equipment is used, which undergoes regular inspection. The transportation of hydrocarbons like diesel fuel (flammable liquid) or dangerous materials such as chemical products is carried out using various types of containers:

  • Steel drums with caps are made of steel and are compatible with most dangerous goods
  • Mobile polyethylene tank for diesel fuel transport
  • Double-walled transport and storage tank for gasoline or ethanol transport
  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic drums with caps
  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE) container
  • Storage and transport tank
  • ADR-approved waste collection container for hazardous waste
  • Pallet box for transporting asbestos waste, medical waste, etc.
  • Mobile box for transporting solid dangerous goods
Before their transportation, each packaging of dangerous goods must be labeled accordingly.

Labeling requirements according to ADR standards

Labeling of packages and containers for the transport of dangerous goods is similar to that of transport vehicles. The labeling is presented in a smaller format as a 10 cm by 10 cm square. Depending on the nature and degree of hazard of the goods, one or more labels are affixed to the packaging. The labeling must include the UN identification number of the goods preceded by the letters "UN" or terms describing the risk, such as "flammable". One copy of the label per package is sufficient.

A handling label number 11 must be affixed to both opposite sides of the packaging containing:
  • Liquid goods contained in containers with closures that are not visible from the outside
  • Goods contained in containers with vents
  • Liquefied and refrigerated gases
However, ADR allows for partial or total application exemptions.

Exemptions from ADR regulations

In its chapter 1.1.3, the European Agreement provides for cases of exemption from ADR measures.

Three types are distinguished:
  • Total exemptions
  • Exemptions related to packaging
  • Exemptions concerning quantities of dangerous goods transported by vehicle
Total exemptions involve a waiver of ADR regulation measures. Partial exemptions pertain to specific ADR measures. The partial exemption of chapter of ADR includes the maximum quantity of dangerous material transported in a single vehicle (threshold not to be exceeded). It concerns packages, not bulk. Packaging and marking of packages remain mandatory. The truck driver must have undergone ADR training. Furthermore, the ADR certificate and vehicle signage are not obligatory. The quantity of dangerous goods must be stated on the transport document. The exemption for limited quantities is regulated by chapter 3.4 of ADR. It only applies to packages.

For ADR requirements not to apply, dangerous goods must:
  • Have an inner packaging placed inside an outer packaging (combination packaging)
  • Be authorized for non-approved packaging
  • Have a quantity limit prescricontainer in chapter 3.2 of ADR per inner packaging
  • Weigh no more than 30 kilograms per package
Package marking remains mandatory (black-pointed diamond). The driver must have received ADR training.

Regulatory sanctions and fines

Non-compliance with regulatory obligations related to ADR can result in sanctions and fines. Offenses and fines concerning the transport of dangerous goods are identified by police, gendarmes trained in TMD control, or DREAL inspectors. Offenses can be detected within the company itself or during a road inspection.

Three types of offenses are distinguished:
  • Category I risk: High risk of death, severe bodily injury, or severe environmental damage.
  • Category II risk: Risk of bodily injury or environmental damage requiring immediate corrective action at the inspection site.
  • Category III risk: Low risk of bodily injury or environmental damage with corrective measures that can be taken later.
The penalties and fines incurred are as follows:
  • 1 year imprisonment and a €30,000 fine for transporting unauthorized dangerous goods, on an unauthorized route, without signage on the transport document, packaging, and externally.
  • 5th class offense, a €1,500 fine, €30,000 in case of repeat offense within the year: Non-compliance with classification of goods, package marking, use of tanks and containers for bulk transport, visibility of hazards, staff training, documents to be submitted to authorities.
Do you want to know more about packaging and containers suitable for transporting dangerous goods? Contact OTEXIO.