They put lives, equipment, and property at unnecessary risk. There has recently been a spate of incidents caused by undeclared, misdeclared or hidden Dangerous Goods which have caused a great deal of concern. These are clear and present risks.
Fortunately, in South Africa, we have a strong Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) determined to work with the industry to combat this scourge. The SACAA is uncompromising about compliance and firm about recording any breaches, yet at the same time it offers encouragement and provides guidance to industry. It works on a partnership basis, not master and servant and has a highly positive impact on the security of our business.
Misdeclarations may occur accidentally because of ignorance or confusion regarding the regulations. This clearly indicates the need for education and training, more intensively or more frequently.
Less commonly, there may be an irresponsible attempt to circumvent Dangerous Goods regulations, procedures, and costs. Such unethical activity puts lives and property at risk and has no place in a responsible operation or in the air cargo industry.
Every one of our people must be alert, aware of the rules and authorised to call out any behaviour inconsistent with security and safety standards.
What about hidden Dangerous Goods? Paints, aerosols containing various products, glues, and adhesives, bleaching powders, cleaners – many common household items contain Dangerous Goods. The public may be unaware of this when handing them over for transport and it is the responsibility of our people to recognise and neutralise such unintended exposure at every stage of the express supply chain.
For the last several years the SACAA, and industry have been laying great stress on the need to put watertight measures in place to deal with hidden, misdeclared and undeclared Dangerous Goods. All of us must take seriously this danger presented by Dangerous Goods by remaining alert to the risks and up to date in our knowledge and procedures for mitigating them.
A version of this article was previously published in the South African Express Parcels Association newsletter.