In Canada, it’s illegal to transport hazardous materials or HAZMATS in a private car, truck, or van. You may face fines and charges if you transport hazardous materials in your vehicle. That’s why HAZMAT trucking is always your best option to avoid accidents and illegalities.

But if you need to transport hazardous substances because of an emergency, you have to follow certain rules. If you are transporting dangerous materials, you must follow regulations regarding how much material you can transport at once.

The road authority may inform you about specific laws that apply to your situation. You may also need insurance or a transportation permit issued by the government.

What Are Hazardous Materials?

Also referred to as HAZMATS, hazardous materials include any material that can pose a danger to health, safety, property, or the environment. They are solid, liquid, gaseous, or other substances determined by the Transport of Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported.

There are classes of HAZMATS as your guide on how to pack and transport HAZMATS. These include explosives, compressed gasses, flammable liquids and solids, oxidizing materials, organic peroxide substances, or material containing unstable (reactive) material.

Types of HAZMAT Transportation

The different types of transportation for hazardous materials in Canada are:

  • Truckload: More than nine but not exceeding 500 kilograms per package 
  • Less than truckload: Less than nine kilograms per package
  • Air Cargo Tank: Used to transport liquid or gas by aircraft that falls into Classes 2A, 2B, and 3.
  • Marine Bulk: Any liquid or unpackaged powder substance in an air cargo tank, unit load device, or single package transport.

Examples of Dangerous Goods

  • Explosives and Ammunition, including fireworks and flares
  • Pyrophoric – A material that reacts when exposed to the air.
  • Compressed gasses, including butane, propane, oxygen, nitrogen, and helium
  • Flammable solids, including magnesium, phosphorus (white), potassium permanganate (KMnO4), and sodium peroxide (Na2O2).
  • Flammable liquids – Liquid with a flashpoint of fewer than 37.8 degrees Celsius except for ethyl alcohol of 30 percent or more by volume in water, petrol, certain hydrocarbon solvents, and other inflammable like acetone and certain solid plastics like polystyrene burn easily.
  • Oxidizing materials that are not organic peroxides, including hydrogen peroxide, nitric acid that contains more than 70 percent nitric acid by weight, and potassium nitrate.
  • Flammable materials
  • Toxic or poisonous material
  • Corrosive substances
  • Radioactive material
  • Organic peroxide substance
  • Material containing unstable (reactive) material

How to Transport Dangerous Goods

If you have to transport dangerous goods in your private vehicle, you need to prepare yourself and your car. Here are tips on how to safely haul HAZMATS:

1. Get Certifications and Permits

Hazardous materials typically need to be transported in vehicles with the proper license type. This rule varies depending on what you are transporting, so check the regulations among your local government. Ensure you also get all necessary permits and certificates required for HAZMAT transportation before setting out.

2. Pack Properly

Check the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act Regulations for a good idea of packing hazardous substances. Packaging needs to contain any leakage while securely packed inside a vehicle. For instance, while large glass jars may seem sturdy enough, they can sometimes break when handled roughly or exposed to outside elements like heat or cold during transport.

3. Choose the Right Vehicle

Your vehicle must meet HAZMAT transportation standards. These include:

  • Lined inside compartments with a smooth and corrosion-resistant material like stainless steel, aluminum, or copper.
  • An inside compartment for each package of hazardous waste that will not make contact with other packages These compartments need to be leak-proof and securely lidded when loaded.
  • Means of preventing accidental dislodgement during transport, such as tying down cargo in your vehicle’s trunk.
  • Permanently mounted tank if you intend to carry flammable liquids or compressed gas in bulk quantities.

4. Install Emergency Equipment

Your car must have emergency equipment for flammable liquid spills. This includes a fire extinguisher with at least 2 kilograms of extinguishing agent, plus a large container filled with sand capable of soaking up about 5 liters of liquid. The sand can be used to cover the spill to limit its spread into the environment.  

5. Know Your Route

Check your route carefully before setting out on hazardous materials transport. See if there are fire stations along the way that are equipped to handle HAZMAT spills after checking any landmarks or places where you can drop off your load safely during an emergency.

6. Wear Protective Gear

Ensuring your safety is highly important. Everyone in the vehicle should wear a self-contained breathing apparatus to protect them from contact with hazardous substances within two hours. They also need to have a full face shield, chemical-resistant gloves and shoes, an approved protective suit for flammable liquids, and any other equipment required depending on what is being transported.

7. Inform Emergency Services

Every person in the car should be trained to handle HAZMAT transportation emergencies. In case of a spill or leak while transporting dangerous goods, get out of the vehicle immediately and move at least 30 meters away from it after getting your emergency equipment ready. Call 911 immediately and never return inside the car while waiting for the emergency services to arrive.

8. Use Trucking Services

If you are transporting HAZMATs regularly, hiring a trucking company may be more advisable. Truck drivers are trained to handle HAZMAT incidents professionally. If you are using your private vehicle only for this task, always follow the above precautions.

Full truckload carriers are one of your best options when transporting HAZMATs in large amounts. These carriers are equipped with the right equipment and trained professionals to safely transport these substances. They also offer special insurance coverage in case of disaster, so you won’t have to bear the costs on your own.

As a Whole

Be sure to follow the law when transporting hazardous materials in a private vehicle. Pack properly and choose a safe route that includes emergency services you can contact. Never compromise your safety just to cut down on costs when hazardous materials are involved.

By taking the right precautions, you can keep everyone around you safe from the risks posed by these substances. Though they may not be as immediately dangerous as a firearm or drugs, it is still essential to consider their potential impact.

Ultimately, trucking companies are one of your best options when handling large quantities of hazardous material. They have all the required permits, certifications, and insurance for this type of transport. They also have the proper vehicle for any goods you need to transport. For instance, they can transport large industrial machinery using flatbed transportation.