Agricultural chemical transport

Most farms use some form of dangerous goods, either to operate machinery or to control weeds or pests. Dangerous goods are substances that have properties that can be dangerous or hazardous to health if not transported, stored and handled safely.

There are seasonal upsurges in the transport of transport of agricultural chemicals (agchem); of herbicides, insecticides, fumigants and emulsions or solvents for spraying applicators, to ensure availability of these products to farmers in large horticultural, broad acre and irrigation districts.

Western Australia’s dangerous goods transport regulations reference practical safety measures in the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG7.8) that apply to the transport of all dangerous goods, including packages of fumigants, boxes of aerosols, herbicides in enviro-drums, and road tankers of formulated goods.

Correct product segregation, where hazardous chemicals are isolated from each other to avoid the risk of fire or environmental pollution, whether during transport, during handling or in storage, minimises the hazards involved in close proximity of mixed agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals.

Vehicle suitability is an issue for farmers carting loads from local agchem suppliers to their own farms. The Australian Dangerous Goods Code requires loads to be stowed and restrained within sides and gates – with minimal vertical protrusion of packages allowed.

Correct load restraint is vital to safe transportation of chemicals and people are strongly advised to ensure their chemicals are not transported inside a vehicle cabin or boot, to avoid the possible event of a vapour release or leak.

Farmers should inform themselves of the proper restraint devices and their capabilities before tackling an unfamiliar load – alternatively, engage a transport professional.

Key responsibilities

For transport professionals of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, key responsibilities for the safe transport of placard loads of dangerous goods include:

  • consignment information – carry transport documents and emergency information
  • load arrangement – restrain loads and segregate incompatible combinations of dangerous goods
  • placarding – display vehicle placarding and package labelling
  • safety equipment – provide fire extinguishers and personal protective equipment
  • insurance – vehicle owners to carry $5 million minimum insurance for dangerous goods incidents

For commercial transport of placard loads by prime contractors and sub-contractors, there is an additional requirement to engage an approved emergency responder or register with the Department to become your own emergency responder.

Want to know more?

Go to what is required for the safe transport of dangerous goods on the Department website.

Transport incidents involving agricultural chemicals

The environmental and economic impact of transport incidents involving agchem highlights the importance of maintaining safe practices for the transport of dangerous goods throughout the supply chain. The following sample of transport incidents involving agchem illustrates the environmental and economic impacts of dangerous goods transport incidents.

  • A drum on a palletised gramoxone load was punctured by a protruding nail, requiring a trailer clean-up, rinsing of remaining drums and restacking for delivery.
  • A combined paraquat and glyphosate load was involved in a vehicle collision, releasing a large quantity of herbicides from enviro-drums and intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) onto the roadside.
  • An 18 tonne non-placarded load of herbicide and bleach impacted a residence as a result of a road accident.

Lack of internal load restraint and segregation of packaged corrosives led to a 36-hour closure of the Great Eastern Highway after a two-truck collision.

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