Transport of Dangerous Goods – Placarding

The road and rail transport of dangerous goods is governed by the Dangerous Goods (Transport by road or rail) Regulations 2018 (Vic) (‘regulations’). The objective of this regulation is to reduce the risk of personal injury, death, property damage and environmental harm from the transport of dangerous goods over land.[1] This is achieved by imposing duties on consignors, packers, loaders, rail operators, transport operators, and drivers to ensure the safe transport of dangerous goods. The placarding requirements for the transport of dangerous goods by road or rail are detailed in the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road & Rail (‘ADG code’).

The placarding requirements vary depending on the form of dangerous goods being transported, whether the dangerous goods are packaged or in bulk.  Bulk dangerous goods are where dangerous goods are contained in a receptacle exceeding 500 kg or litres in capacity.

What is Placarding?

Placarding refers to affixing specific signage on exterior surfaces of vehicles, cargo transport units and receptacles containing dangerous goods to warn persons of the presence of dangerous goods and their risk.

When is Placarding Required?

Placarding is required in the following circumstances, where:

  • Dangerous goods are in a receptacle with a capacity of more than 500 Kg or Litres
  • Aggregate quantity of dangerous goods (other than limited quantity) exceeds 250 kg or litres of the following dangerous goods:
    • Class 2.1 Flammable dangerous goods (except for aerosols) or
    • Class 2.3 Toxic Gas Dangerous goods or
    • Dangerous goods of packing group 1 of any class or division
  • Class 6.2 infectious substances dangerous goods of:
    • Category A – All quantities
    • Other Categories – Equal to 10kg/litres or more
  • The total aggregate quantity of dangerous goods is 1000 kg / litres or more (other than specified goods and dangerous goods meeting the thresholds above)[2]
Specified Goods Placarding

Additional placarding is required for specified goods. Specified goods are defined as dangerous goods that are packed in limited quantities or are any of the following consumable dangerous goods:

  1. Fireworks that are bon bons, party poppers, or sparklers or
  2. Domestic smoke detectors containing radioactive material or
  3. Lighters or lighter refills containing flammable gas or
  4. Fire extinguishers containing compressed or liquified gas up to a net mass of 23 kg or
  5. A combination of the above[3]

Placarding for specified goods is required where:

  1. The specified goods include an aggregate quantity of 2000 kg / litres or more of any one UN number from a single place of consignment or
  2. The total gross mass of the specified goods is 8 tonnes or more[4]

Duties

The following duties exist in relation to the placarding of dangerous goods by transport for road and rail:

  1. To ensure the load is appropriately placarded
  2. To ensure the placarding is not false or misleading
  3. To ensure placarding is not displayed where not required

These duties apply to consignors[5], loaders[6], prime contractors[7], rail operators[8], and drivers[9].

Where Must Placards be Displayed?

Placards are required to be displayed on:

  1. All placardable units containing dangerous goods or their residue, such as Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC), etc
  2. Portable tanks and bulk containers containing dangerous goods or their residue
  3. Freight containers containing a placard load of dangerous goods for transport
  4. Road vehicles transporting a placard load of dangerous goods
  5. Rail wagons transporting a placard load of dangerous goods[10]

Types of placards

There are two main types of placards, which are class diamonds and Emergency Information Panels.

Class Diamonds

Placards are required to be diamond shaped of a minimum dimension of 250mm x 250mm, the line inside the edge must be parallel and be of a distance of 12.5mm from the outside of that line to the edge of the placard.[11] Different dimensions apply for class 7 radioactive placards.

When are Class Diamonds Required?

Class diamond placards are required for the transport of packaged dangerous goods that exceed the placarding thresholds above, as well as for the transport of bulk dangerous goods. Class diamonds are required for the following:

  • On all placardable units e.g. Intermediate Bulk Container exceeding capacity of 500 kg/L
  • Portable tanks and bulk containers containing dangerous goods or the residue of dangerous goods
  • Freight containers containing a placard load of dangerous goods
  • Road vehicles transporting a placard load of dangerous goods
  • Rail wagons transporting a placard load of dangerous goods[12]

The class diamonds can be incorporated in the Emergency Information Panel outlined below for bulk dangerous goods.

Emergency Information Panels (EIP)

Emergency information panels (EIP) are a type of placard which are required for the transport of bulk dangerous goods. Bulk dangerous goods are where dangerous goods are contained in a receptacle exceeding 500 kg or litres in capacity. Emergency Information Panels display additional information about the dangerous goods than the class diamonds, which communicate solely the primary and sub risk hazard class. Emergency Information Panels are required to display the following information:

  1. Proper Shipping Name
  2. UN Number
  3. Hazchem Code
  4. The Expression – “IN EMERGENCY DIAL 000, POLICE OR FIRE-BRIGADE’’
  5. The class diamond including any subrisk class diamond
  6. Name and telephone number of company providing telephone advisory service[13]

Example of an EIP:

Example of a completed EIP:

Multi-load Emergency Information Panel (EIP)

Multi-load Emergency Information Panels (EIP) are used to communicate that multiple classes of bulk dangerous goods are contained on the vehicle. Multi-load Emergency Information Panels are required to display the following information:

  1. BLANK (Shipping Name is left blank)
  2. MULTI-LOAD
  3. Hazchem Code (Multi-load Hazchem for the combination of dangerous goods)
  4. The Expression – “IN EMERGENCY DIAL 000, POLICE OR FIRE-BRIGADE’’
  5. If same class – The class diamond including any subrisk class diamond, If different class – The mixed class diamond
  6. Name and telephone number of company providing telephone advisory service[14]

Example of a multi-load EIP:

There are also specific Emergency Information Panels for other loads, such as a mixed load of refined petroleum product, unodourised LP gas, unodourised Butane, unodourised Propane.

When are Emergency Information Panels Required?

Emergency Information Panels are required for bulk dangerous goods, where dangerous goods are contained in a receptacle exceeding 500 kg or L. Emergency Information Panels are required to be affixed on the receptacle as well on the vehicle. This includes the following receptacles:

  • IBCs
  • Pressure drums
  • Tubes
  • Multiple Element Gas Containers (MEGC)
  • Demountable Tanks

Emergency Information Panels are required to be affixed on each of the two opposite sides, which must be able to be seen during loading. However only one Emergency Information Panel is required for pressure drums, tubes, and other placardable units having a diameter or side dimensions of less than 1 metre.[15]

Placarding of Freight Containers

Freight containers containing dangerous goods are required to be placarded.

Packaged Dangerous Goods (Non Bulk)

Freight containers which contain a placard load of dangerous goods in packages, are required to be placarded with a class diamond including any subrisk diamond on each opposite long sides of the container.[16]   The class diamond must correspond to the class of dangerous goods being transported inside the freight container. If the freight container contains multiple classes of dangerous goods, than a mixed class diamond can be displayed or the individual class diamonds of all dangerous goods inside the container, including any subrisk class diamonds can be displayed.

Bulk Dangerous Goods

Freight containers which contain a placard load of bulk dangerous goods in one or more receptacles exceeding 500 kg or litres, are required to be placarded with an Emergency Information Panel on each opposite long side of the container.[17]  If the freight container contains multiple classes of bulk dangerous goods, than a multi-load EIP can be displayed on the container or each individual EIP of the class of dangerous goods inside the container can be displayed, on each opposite long sides of the container.

Exceptions

There is an exception for receptacles transported in freight containers. Emergency Information Panels are not required on receptacles if:

  1. The receptacles are marked and labelled in accordance with the regulations; and
  2. The freight container is placarded in accordance with the regulations; and
  3. No goods (including non dangerous) have been removed from or added to the freight container since import into Australia or for export from the initial place it was consigned and loaded.[18]

Placarding of Road vehicles

Packaged Dangerous Goods (Non Bulk)

Road vehicles transporting a placard load of dangerous goods in packages are required to display a class diamond placard including any subrisk diamond on the rear and front of the vehicle.[19] The class diamond must correspond to the class of dangerous goods being transported on the vehicle. If the load contains multiple classes of dangerous goods, then a mixed class diamond can be displayed or the individual class diamonds of all dangerous goods on board, including any subrisk class diamonds can be displayed. Note specific requirements apply for combination road vehicles.

Bulk Dangerous Goods

Road vehicles transporting a placard load of bulk dangerous goods in one or more receptacles exceeding 500 kg or litres, are required to be placarded with an Emergency Information Panel on the rear of the vehicle and on each of the two opposite sides of the vehicle.[20] The front of the vehicle should contain a corresponding class diamond placard. Emergency Information Panels must be placed at least 450mm above the ground and fitted on the sides as close as practicable to the front of the loading area of the vehicle.

If the road vehicle contains multiple classes of bulk dangerous goods, then a multi-load Emergency Information Panel can be displayed on the vehicle or each individual Emergency Information Panel of the class of dangerous goods inside the container can be displayed, on each opposite long side of the container.

Examples of Placarding

Example 1

A vehicle is transporting the following dangerous goods:

  • Class 8 Product in 10 L containers
  • 100 containers per pallet
  • Total of 3 pallets on vehicle

The total quantity of class 8 dangerous goods will be 3000 L and exceeds the placarding threshold. The following placarding will be required on the vehicle:

Vehicle: A class 8 diamond on the front and rear of the vehicle

Example 2

A vehicle is transporting the following dangerous goods:

  • Class 3 Product in 10 L containers
    • 100 containers per pallet
    • Total of 2 pallets on vehicle
    • Total quantity – 2000 L
  • Class 8 Product in 20L containers
    • 50 containers per pallet
    • Total of 4 pallets on vehicle
    • Total quantity – 4000 L
  • Class 6.1 Product in 10kg containers
    • 50 containers per pallet
    • Total of 2 pallets on vehicle
    • Total quantity – 1000 L

The total quantity of dangerous goods on vehicle will be 7000 L and exceeds the placarding threshold. The following placarding will be required on the vehicle:

Vehicle: A mixed class diamond or individual class diamonds of class 3, 8 and 6.1 on the front and rear of the vehicle.

Example 3

A vehicle is transporting the following dangerous goods:

  • Class 8 Product in 10 x 1000 L intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC)

This will be regarded as the transport of bulk dangerous goods as IBCs are receptacles exceeding 500 L in capacity. The total quantity of dangerous goods on vehicle will be 10,000 L and exceeds the placarding threshold. The following placarding will be required:

Vehicle:

Front – Class 8 diamond

Sides and rear – Emergency Information Panel

Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC): Each IBC is also required to be placarded with an EIP on two opposite sides of the IBC.

Example 4

A vehicle is transporting the following dangerous goods:

  • Class 8 Product in 10 x 1000 L intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC)
  • Class 3 Product in 4 x 1000 L intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC)
  • Class 6.1 Product in 6 x 1000 L intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC)

This will be regarded as the transport of bulk dangerous goods, as IBCs are receptacles exceeding 500 L in capacity. The total quantity of dangerous goods on vehicle will be 20,000 L and exceeds the placarding threshold. The following placarding will be required:

Vehicle:

Front – Mixed class diamond or class 8, 3 and 6.1 class diamond

Sides and rear – Multi-load Emergency Information Panel or class 8, 3, 6.1 EIP on sides and rear

Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC): Each IBC is also required to be placarded with an EIP corresponding to the class of dangerous goods on two opposite sides of the IBC.

 

Note: The information presented in this article is generic for general information purposes only, it may not be complete and accurate for your specific circumstances.

 

 


[1] Dangerous Goods (Transport by road or rail) Regulations 2018 (Vic) section 1.

[2] ibid section 83.

[3] ibid section 83(4).

[4] ibid section 83(2).

[5] ibid section 85.

[6] ibid section 86.

[7] ibid section 87.

[8] ibid section 87.

[9] ibid section 88.

[10] Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road & Rail 7.8 (2023) clause 5.3.1.1.3.

[11] ibid clause 5.3.1.2.1.

[12] ibid clause 5.3.1.1.4.

[13] ibid Clause 5.3.1.3.1.

[14] ibid Clause 5.3.1.3.2.

[15] ibid clause 5.3.3.4.

[16] ibid clause 5.3.5.1.

[17] ibid clause 5.3.5.2.3.

[18] ibid clause 5.3.3.6.

[19] Clause 5.3.6.1.1.

[20] ibid clause 5.3.6.3.