The transportation sector is one of the largest industries in the world, spanning a variety of applications. The sector offers services concerned with the movement of people and cargo of all types, across air freight and logistics, airlines and airport services, road and rail, transportation infrastructure, trucking, highways, rail tracks, and marine ports and services.
The sector is full of innovation, with the unveiling of new hydrogen buses in the UK as an alternative to battery and diesel buses in 2021. This was also the year that the USA launched their Maglev high speed trains which use magnetic levitation and powerful electromagnets to travel with less noise and vibration than traditional trains.
However, new innovations and developments still come with hazards, specifically with relation to the risks posed through the generation of dangerous and toxic gases.
As one of the largest sectors globally it makes sense that there are a range of hazards that workers need to be safeguarded against. Let’s explore the ways in which to protect workers doing vital work in the transportation field.
Transporting hazardous materials can cause accidents. The risk of an accident is more likely when transporting explosives, gases, flammable liquids, flammable solids, oxidizing substances, toxic substances, radioactivematerials, corrosive substances and miscellaneous dangerous goods. These are the nine classification areas for concern as categorised by the United Nations (UN). The biggest cause for concern in the transportation of non-flammable non-toxic gas is asphyxiation. A slow leak in a storage container can drain all of the oxygen in the air and cause the individuals in the environment to suffocate.
Primarily seen in motor vehicles, air conditioning poses a gas hazard due to burning of fossil fuels and subsequent emissions of Carbon Monoxide (CO). If CO levels increase, within the vehicle cabin atmosphere, more than the normal level (30 ppm) or the oxygen level decreases below 19% then drivers and passengers are at risk of CO ingestion and its associated side effects of dizziness, feeling and being sick, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Ensuring there is proper ventilation within these spaces, alongside gas detection devices is imperative to ensure the safety of all involved.
Within the air sector cabin combustion and fuselage fires, in the central portion of an airplane, are a real risk. Although flame retardant materials are utilised, if a fire does start the cabin’s trim and fittings can still generate toxic gases and vapours which could be more dangerous than the fire itself. Inhalation of harmful gases caused by a fire in these environments tend to be the main direct cause of fatalities.
Leaks within aircraft hangars and fuel storage areas of highly explosive aviation fuel is something that must be monitored to avoid fires, equipment damage, and at the worst fatalities. It is necessary to choose a suitable gas detection solution that focuses on the aircraft rather than the aircraft hangar, avoids false alarms, uses few detectors, and can cover large areas.
The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA), enacted in the USA in 1975, states that regardless of the type of transportation, any company whose goods fall into one of the nine categories specified as hazardous by the UN, must comply with the regulations or risk fines and penalties.
Those working in the transport sector in the UK must comply with the requirements laid out in the UN Model Regulations which assigns each dangerous substance or article a specific class that correlates how dangerous it is. It does this via the packing group (PG) classification, according to PG I, PG II or PG III.
From an European standpoint the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) governs the regulations on how to classify, pack, label and certify dangerous goods. It also comprises vehicle and tank requirements and other operational requirements. The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 also is relevant in England, Wales and Scotland.
Other relevant regulations include the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Navigation (ADN), the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) and The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Technical Instruction