Transportation of Dangerous Goods


To ensure the safe transportation of hazardous materials in compliance with the Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Act and Regulations; International Air Transport Association; other government agencies; and McMaster University’s internal policies and procedures.


This applies to all persons who may be involved in the shipping, transport, handling, and receiving of dangerous goods. Dangerous Goods are categorized by the following classifications:
Class 1, Explosives
Class 2, Gases
Class 3, Flammable Liquids
Class 4, Flammable Solids
Class 5, Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides
Class 6, Toxic and Infectious Substances
Class 7, Radioactive Materials
Class 8, Corrosive Substances
Class 9, Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods (including, but not limited to, Dry Ice, Genetically Modified Micro-Organisms or Genetically Modified Organisms, Chemical and First Aid Kits)


It is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that all employees reporting to them involved in the shipping, handling, offering for transport or receiving of dangerous goods are trained and certified, and re-certified, as prescribed by the TDG Regulations; and the training must be specific to the duties of the employee. For example, if a lab technician is shipping samples of Biological Substances, Category B, UN 3373, they must attend a TDG Specimen Transport seminar as offered by the Faculty of Health Sciences Safety Office.

If you ship, receive, or transport dangerous goods, you must be trained and carry a valid Certificate of Training (issued and signed by your employer), or work under the direct supervision of someone who is trained. The specific training/certification requirements for the shipping/receiving/handling/offering for transport of dangerous goods by ground and by air are different and exclusive. Certification is not transferable. Certification of training expires and must be periodically updated in accordance with the TDG regulations. Failure to comply with all TDG Regulations could result in fines and possible imprisonment for receiving, shipping, and transporting hazardous materials improperly. Please contact Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services to determine your specific training requirements.

The Customs and Traffic Division has certified TDG trained employees that will provide the appropriate advice, documentation, and labels for the transportation of dangerous goods. Please note, most dangerous goods shipments must be inspected by Customs & Traffic personnel prior to shipping. You will be advised as to whether or not an inspection is required, when, and where the inspection will take place.

Persons intending to ship dangerous goods from the McMaster Campus or the Faculty of Health Sciences will complete a “Request Form for Shipping Hazardous Goods” (link) and forward, along with a copy of the MSDS, to the Customs and Traffic Division. Please allow 5 working days from the date of request for preparation of the paperwork.

Additional information can be found on the Risk Management Manual, policy number 505, Transportation of Dangerous Goods website.


All shipments of dangerous goods must be classified, packaged, marked, labeled, documented, placarded, and shipped in accordance with the TDG Regulations.

The Faculty of Health Sciences Safety Office and EOHSS offer TDG training sessions. Please visit the EOHSS training website for additional information.

If you are exporting dangerous goods, it is your responsibility to determine if an Export Permit is required. Failure to obtain the required export permit could result in the seizure and forfeiture of your goods, and/or fines/penalties including imprisonment.

McMaster University is registered with the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre (CANUTEC). CANUTEC is operated by Transport Canada to assist emergency response personnel in handling dangerous good emergencies. Federal regulations require that CANUTEC must be contacted in the event of an incident or accident involving radioactive materials, infectious substances, or chemical spills. This is in addition to any reporting that must be done by provincial or municipal statutes. The information number is 613-996-6666. The Customs and Traffic Division will reference CANUTEC’s telephone number on all Shipper’s Declarations For Dangerous Goods completed by their office, and fax a copy of the documents to CANUTEC prior to sending the shipment.

Please contact the Health Physics Office, extension 24226, regarding shipments of materials regulated under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (Class 7, Radioactive Materials).

The McMaster Industry Liaison Office (MILO) approves Material Transfer Agreements (MTA) that requires intellectual property contract agreements such as biological/genetic samples or chemical compounds. The MTA must be in compliance with McMaster Biosafety Committee, Health Physics Advisory Board and the TDG Regulations.

Dangerous goods cannot be shipped via Canada Post.

If you require dangerous goods while you are performing field work, please have the original supplier ship the dangerous good directly to your field location. If there are any problems regarding shipping the dangerous good to the site, you will be advised by the supplier. If the original supplier cannot ship the dangerous good to the site, then we will not be able to ship the item either – it means that no carrier will transport the item.

All incidents involving dangerous goods on campus (e.g. improperly packaged or labeled goods, improper documents, damaged containers, etc.) must be reported to EOHSS Ext. 24352. After hours, please contact Security (Ext. 88 on campus, Ext. 5555 at MUMC) at the Institution involved.

Damaged packages of dangerous goods must be refused by University receivers.

Infectious Substances

Infectious substances are defined as substances which are known or are reasonably expected to contain pathogens. Pathogens are defined as micro-organisms (including bacteria, viruses, rickettsiae, parasites, fungi) and other agents such as prions, which can cause disease in humans or animals. Infectious substances must be classified in Division 6.2 and assigned to UN 2814 Infectious substance, affecting humans (can cause disease in both humans and animals); UN 2900 Infectious substance, affecting animals (only); or UN 3373 Biological Substance, Category B, as appropriate.

Infectious substances are divided into two categories, Category A and Category B.

Category A includes an infectious substance which is transported in a form that, when exposure to it occurs, is capable of causing permanent disability, life-threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals. Some examples include escherichia coli, verotoxigenic (cultures only), rabies virus (cultures only), and human immunodeficiency virus (cultures only). Infectious substances meeting Category A criteria must be assigned to either UN 2814 or UN 2900.

Category B includes an infectious substance which does not meet the criteria for inclusion in Category A. Infectious substances in Category B must be assigned to UN 3373 Biological Substance, Category B.

Biological Products

Biological products are defined as those products derived from living organisms which are manufactured and distributed in accordance with the requirements of appropriate national authorities, which may have special licensing requirements, and are used either for prevention, treatment, or diagnosis of disease in humans or animals, or for development, experimental or investigational purposes related thereto. They include, but are not limited to, finished or unfinished products such as vaccines. Biological products are assigned to UN 2814, UN 2900 or UN 3373, as appropriate.


Cultures are defined as the result of a process by which pathogens are intentionally propagated.

Patient Specimens

Patient Specimens are defined as samples collected directly from humans or animals including, but not limited to, excreta, secreta, blood and its components, tissue and tissue fluid swabs, and body parts being transported for purposes such as research, diagnosis, investigational activities, disease treatment and prevention.

Patient specimens must be assigned to UN 2814, UN 2900 or UN 3373, as appropriate, except if they comply with certain exceptions as outlined in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Regulations. Please contact the Customs and Traffic Division for additional information.

Patient specimens for which there is minimal likelihood that pathogens are present are not subject to the TDG regulations if the specimen is in a package which will prevent any leakage and which is marked with the words “Exempt human specimen” or “Exempt animal specimen”. These labels are available from HSC Stores-4N43, ABB Stores-B166. Also, the packaging must meet the following conditions:

  • a leak-proof primary receptacle(s);
  • a leak-proof secondary packaging; and
  • an outer packaging of adequate strength for its capacity, mass and intended
    use, and with at least one surface having minimum dimensions of 100 mm X
    100 mm;
  • for liquids, absorbent material in sufficient quantity to absorb the entire contents
    must be placed between the primary receptacle(s) and the secondary packaging
    so that, during transport, any release or leak of a liquid substance will not reach
    the outer packaging and will not compromise the integrity of the cushioning
  • when multiple fragile primary receptacles are placed in a single secondary
    packaging, they must be either individually wrapped or separated to prevent
    Contact between them.

Dry Ice

Although regulated under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations, dry ice alone does not require UN Performance Packaging or a Shipper's Declaration for Dangerous Goods. However, you must follow the instructions listed below for labeling your box and completing the bill of lading for any shipments containing dry ice with other non-hazardous substances.

  • The class 9 label must be placed on one side of the box. It cannot overlap to another side of the box and must not be defaced in any way.
  • The weight of dry ice in kilograms must be clearly marked on the box beside the class 9 label.
  • The box must be marked with "Dry Ice UN1845" next to the class 9 label.
  • The name, address and telephone number of the shipper and consignee must appear on the same side of the box as the class 9 label.
  • Shipments that contain a (frozen) liquid must have two directional labels placed on opposite sides of the box.
  • Class 9 labels, directional labels, and perishable labels can be found in HSC Stores-4N43, or ABB Stores-B166.
  • Styrofoam outer packaging is not allowed. Place Styrofoam containers inside a good quality fibreboard box. The boxes must allow venting of the dry ice, so do not tape all seams closed.

Please note, domestic dry ice shipments should be shipped by Wednesday at the latest. International dry ice shipments should be shipped by Tuesday at the latest to allow enough time for customs clearance and delivery. For international shipments, a minimum of 10 kgs of dry ice is recommended for packaging purposes.

Completion of Federal Express International Expanded Air Waybill or Domestic Bill of Lading for Dry Ice Shipments

  • Under the Special Handling section, tick off the box that corresponds to "Yes, Shipper's Declaration not required".
  • Under the Special Handling section, tick off the box that corresponds to "Dry Ice". Fill in the blanks beside the "Dry Ice" box with the number of packages and the number of kilograms of dry ice. For example, one box containing
    5 kilograms of dry ice would be 1 x 5 kg.
  • Fill in "Description" of goods where prompted.

Dry Shippers (Liquid Nitrogen Dewars) Transporting Non-Hazardous Substances

Insulated packagings containing refrigerated liquid nitrogen fully absorbed in a porous material and intended for transport, at low temperature, of non-dangerous products are not subject to Dangerous Goods Regulations provided the design of the insulated packaging would not allow the build-up of pressure within the container and would not permit the release of any refrigerated liquid nitrogen irrespective of the orientation of the insulated packaging.

The words "Not restricted, as per Special Provision A152” must be included in the description of the substance on the Air Waybill to indicate that it has been checked, that the packaging meets the above mentioned requirements and that no Dangerous Goods are contained inside the insulated packaging.