Knowbase - Characteristics of dangerous cargoes


Classification of dangerous cargoes

The Classification of the majority of dangerous cargoes is performed by shippers (manufacturers) of dangerous cargoes. They can contact the competent authorities for this purpose.


For example, in accordance with the Regulation of the Basics of Cargoes shipment by trucks and trains in Germany (GGVSE) BAM (Federal Institute of Material Research and Testing) is responsible for the classification and references of most dangerous goods.


In Ukraine (due to the absence of the competent authorities being responsible for dangerous cargoes classification, subjects of dangerous cargo transportation often have to identify dangerous cargoes themselves.


When transporting dangerous cargoes by vehicles, the classification of dangerous cargoes  is carried out based on part 2 of ADR and the criteria developed by the UN Committee of Experts. 


DSTU (State Standards of Goods of Ukraine) 4500-3 also operates in Ukraine: 2006 Dangerous cargoes. The classification which has substituted GOST (State Standards of Goods) 19433 88 with the same name.


Dangerous cargoes hazard classes (subclasses of hazardous cargoes)

Depending on danger type, as well as their physical, chemical and biological properties, all of the dangerous cargoes are divided into the following danger classes: 


1st class – explosive substances and products;

2nd class – gases;

3rd class – flammable liquids;

4.1st class – easily ignitable solids, self-reactive substances, solid desensitized explosives;

4.2nd class – fire accelerant substances;

4.3rd class – substances emitting flammable gases while contacting water;

5.1st class – oxidizing agents;

5.2nd class – organic peroxides;

6.1st class – toxic substances

6.2nd class – infectious substances;

7th class – radioactive materials;

8th class – corrosive substances;

9th class – other dangerous substances and goods.


The ordinal number of danger class does not correspond to the hazard level of dangerous cargoes.


Hazard class of dangerous cargo is indicated in the column 3a of table A of chapter 3.2 of ADR (Dangerous cargoes list in the order of the numbers assigned to them by the UNO). The criteria of classifying substances and goods as dangerous cargo class are given in chapter 2.2 of ADR.


In cases, when dangerous cargo is characterized by more than one type of danger in the most significant of them is referred to as the term “main danger” and for other hazards the term “Additional hazard” is used.


Sings of danger

The sings of danger are used to indicate the dangerous properties of dangerous goods (see the figures concerning certain classes of dangerous goods), that dangerous cargo or package with such cargo has to be marked with the following signs. The system of danger signs is based on the classification of dangerous cargoes and is designed for the following purposes:


to make dangerous cargoes easily recognizable at a distance according to the general type of danger sings on them (symbol, color and shape);

to provide first helpful guide for handling operations, cargo handling and separation using color codes of danger signs.


Classification codes of dangerous cargoes

For identification of dangerous cargo hazardous properties, as well as their physical and chemical qualities or belonging to a certain group of substances classification codes are applied, that reveal the properties of a dangerous cargoes themselves.


The classification code consists of a letter(s), which represent(s) a group of dangerous properties and can be complemented by a number, which characterizes physical and chemical properties of cargoes or their belonging to a certain group of chemical substances.


Classification code consists of subclass number and compatibility group letter for dangerous substances or goods of the 1st class.


Classification code consists of number indicating an aggregate state, substance type or product and a letter(s), representing hazard group, for dangerous substances or goods of the 2nd class.


The classification of Radioactive materials of 7th class have not been assigned.


Examples of classification codes for:

– dangerous cargoes of the 1st class: 1.1А, 1.2B, 1.3C, 1.4S;

– dangerous cargoes of the 2nd class: 1А, 2TC, 3O, 5F, 1TO;

– dangerous cargoes of other classes: D, F1, FO, ST3, OTC.

Meanings of letters used in classification codes and representing a group of hazardous properties are given in table. 1.


Asphyxiant gases


Corrosive substances


Desensitized explosives


Easily ignitable substances


Infectious substances


Other dangerous substances


Oxidizing agents


Organic peroxides


Fire accelerant substances;


Self-reactive substances


Toxic substances


Substances emitting flammable gases when contact with water



Identification of dangerous cargoes

Dangerous cargoes are determined by the proper shipping names and the UN numbers in accordance with the guidence. Such names and numbers are assigned to the certain hazardous substances and products according to the UN classification system.

As a lot of requirements of Dangerous Goods List are applied separately to each item, it is necessary to define them before the beginning of dangerous cargo transportation.

In dangerous cargo identification the following items of information are defined:

    UN number of dangerous cargoes;

    proper shipping name of dangerous cargoes;

    class and additional danger types of hazardous cargoes;

    dangerous cargoes packing group (not for all dangerous goods);

    sample numbers of dangerous labels;

    classification code (not for all dangerous goods);

After defining all of the above mentioned information you can start defining the requirements for the transportation of dangerous goods.

Identification of dangerous cargoes according to the UN number

UN number– “United Nations Number” means the four-digit identification number of a substance or product taken from the UN Standard Regulations.

Identification of dangerous cargoes based on the UN number is carried out according to  the dangerous goods list, given in table A of chapter 3.2 of ADR. In this List all of the dangerous cargoes listed in the order of the UN numbers assigned to them.

If the UN number is not available in the Dangerous Goods List, it means that the cargo identification is incorrect.

For dangerous cargoes, which are not specified by name in the Dangerous Goods List, a UN number is determined after defining the class, type of additional danger (if it is available) and package group (if required).

However, a UN number is not always enough to identify a dangerous cargo.

For instance:

    for aerosol identification (the UN number 1950) in addition they need to know the classification code or the sample numbers of hazard labels;

    for paint identification (the UN number 1263) in addition they need to know the package group.

Identification of dangerous cargo by name

If the UN number of dangerous cargo is unknown, they may try to identify dangerous goods by name.

Dangerous cargo identification by name is carried out according to the table В: Alphabetical Index of Substances and Products of ADR.

When identifying dangerous cargo by name it is necessary to take into account that chemical substances are likely to have different names:

    main (technical or biological) name;


    commercial name.


For example:

Carbon dioxide (the UN number 1013 and 2187) has synonyms: carbonic acid gascarbonic anhydride, CO2, etc.

To avoid the problems connected with usage of different names of the same dangerous cargoes by different shipment subjects and relevant competent authorities, when transporting dangerous cargo proper shipping name is used.

The proper shipping name of dangerous cargo is determined by the requirements specified in section 3.1.2.

Consideration of the dangerous cargo package group while identifying

Often for different dangerous cargoes, which are assigned to the same UN number and have the same name, different trucking requirements may be applied. This is due to the fact, that such dangerous cargoes may be characterized by different level of danger while trucking. Thereby, oil, nitro, polystyrene paints relate to UN № 1263 PAINT. However, transportation requirements for oil and nitro paints will be different.

If transported dangerous cargo may be assigned to the UN number, for which several items with the same name are mentioned in the Dangerous Goods List, then identifying dangerous cargo the danger level of the cargo (packing group) should be considered..

The package group of dangerous cargoes is referred to in the column 4 of table А of chapter 3.2 ADR (the list of dangerous cargoes in alphabetical order). The criteria for defining the package group are listed in chapter 3.2 ADR.

Consideration of the classification code and/or sample numbers of hazard signs when identifying dangerous cargoes

Practically there are cases, when defining shipping conditions of dangerous cargoes the sample numbers of danger signs should be considered.

So all of the sprays are referred to UN № 1950 SPRAYS and depending on their dangerous characteristics are divided into 12 groups. For each of 12 groups there are trucking requirements. In this case when defining shipping requirements of given dangerous cargo samples numbers of hazard signs and the classification code should be considered.

The classification code is obligatory to consider when identifying such dangerous cargoes:

   explosives and products of the 1st class;

   products containing gases;

   chemical substances, that can be transported in both solid and liquid conditions.


Sample numbers of danger signs are given in column 5 of the Dangerous Goods List. Descriptions and meanings of sample numbers of danger signs are listed in subsection of ADR.

The classification code of material is indicated in column 3b of the Dangerous Goods List. Meanings of classification codes are given in chapter 2.2 of ADR.


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