The transportation of dangerous goods has always demanded attention to safety and security measures. One persistent issue is the risk of product contamination and spillage, underscoring the constant vigilance required in this sector, says Oliver Naidoo, managing director of JC Auditors (JCA).
“However, it is undeniable that the most significant challenge in the transportation of dangerous goods lies in the management of on-road driver behaviour since road crashes or incidents often have severe consequences. The tragedy involving the road tanker explosion in Boksburg in December 2022 is a stark and sobering example of how badly things can go wrong.”In an interview with Freight News, Naidoo highlighted the multitude of challenges and risks related to the transportation of hazardous materials. These range from the behaviour of drivers to the meticulous process of loading goods securely, proper vehicle placarding, rigorous journey planning, strategic route allocation, load compatibility assessments, and effective journey management.
In particular, Naidoo emphasised the critical impact of on-route driving behaviour in this complex equation.“Businesses are constantly looking to improve efficiency within their operations and offering greater value to clients. There is a significant shift toward embracing technology to achieve this end,” he said.According to Naidoo, telematics is one of the technologies gaining ground. “Although this technology has been around for some time, we are seeing increased customisation of the data to deliver meaningful data to transporters to improve safety and efficiency. These technology enhancements also allow for better route optimisation, improved driver behaviour tracking, and enhanced security for dangerous goods shipments.”
Environmental monitoring, in line with global sustainability trends, is also seeing companies investing more. These tools assess the environmental impact of transporting dangerous goods and help companies reduce their carbon footprint. Another interesting development is the incorporation of virtual reality into safety training programmes. “Virtual reality simulations allow drivers and handlers of dangerous goods to practise emergency response procedures in a realistic and safe environment,” explains Naidoo. “While not widespread yet, we are also seeing the use of drones being explored for monitoring and assessing the aftermath of accidents involving dangerous goods to improve response times and minimise human exposure to hazards.”
The transition from paper-based documentation to electronic systems has also improved efficiency and reduced the risk of errors. Electronic records of dangerous goods shipments help ensure compliance with regulations, said Naidoo.“In the world of dangerous goods road transport, safety is not merely a checkbox; it’s the cornerstone of sustainability and success. To navigate the dynamic and often unpredictable landscape of the industry, we must transcend the perfunctory and embrace a culture of safety that is both innovative and structured,” he told Freight News. “Safety is more than compliance with regulations; it’s a commitment to protecting lives, the environment, and the integrity of our operations. It’s about adopting cutting-edge technologies and systems that proactively identify and mitigate risks, rather than reactively addressing incidents. It’s about investing in comprehensive training, not just for compliance but for continuous improvement and excellence.”