What Happens When a Shipping Container Is Contaminated? 

Industrial shipping drums are the most effective way to safely store and transport goods and products across the world.

Plastic shipping drums, steel shipping drums and increasingly, fibre shipping drums, are all robust industrial shipping solutions. But it’s important to follow safety procedures in order to prevent contamination.

In this article, the experts at ITP Packaging explore the best industrial shipping methods and explain what happens when a shipping container is contaminated.

What Are the Different Types of Shipping Drums? 

Industrial shipping drums are designed to be robust, versatile and cost-effective, with the primary goal being to protect goods and products, and to ensure they arrive safely at their destination.

There are many different types of shipping drums available, each of which has advantages and disadvantages. Different types of shipping containers are better suited to carrying different products, so to avoid chance of contamination, it’s important to select the right container for the job.

The three most popular types of shipping drums are:

A plastic drum might be best suited for storing food and drink, for example, while oil and fuel are best stored in steel drums. Fibre shipping drums are an excellent choice for anyone looking for a cost-effective yet environmentally friendly container, although these are not as durable as plastic or steel drums.

What Are Shipping Drums Commonly Used to Transport? 

Shipping drums are commonly used as industrial transport solutions, and they have the capacity to store and transport a wide range of goods, products and materials.

As mentioned, different types of shipping drums are better suited to different tasks, but even UN-rated fibre shipping drums have the ability to store certain hazardous waste and dangerous goods.

Shipping drums are commonly used to transport:

  • Liquids (including water)
  • Fuel (including petrol and diesel)
  • Oils and lubricants (including engine oil or cooking oil)
  • Food and beverages
  • Medical and pharmaceutical goods
  • Solvents and chemicals
  • Hazardous waste
  • Construction materials

How Can Shipping Drums Become Contaminated? 

While shipping drums are incredibly robust and hardwearing, they are not invincible, and there’s always a chance that they can become contaminated when in storage or transport. Contamination could occur naturally, but commonly it results from mishandling or a lack of regulations.

Shipping barrels can degrade and break down over time, they can be contaminated by outside pollutants or from mixing different goods together. There are many ways that shipping drums could become contaminated, including:

  • Deterioration of the shipping drums
  • Breakages and spillages
  • Accidents or collisions
  • Mishandling
  • Cross-contamination
  • Chemical reactions

How to Identify Potential Contamination? 

It’s important to be aware of what contamination could look like when you are shipping goods in industrial containers. The most obvious sign is damage or wear and tear on the shipping container. If you notice that something doesn’t look right or is visibly damaged or worn, there’s a chance that contamination could have occurred.

You may also notice that a container has begun to rust, is dusty, or has other signs of corrosion or outside contamination. This can affect the goods inside, so it’s important to have a more thorough inspection if this occurs.

Contamination may also result from different materials or liquids reacting with one another, or with an outside influence. This can also result in visible signs or reactions. If something looks out of place, it is best to assume it is.

What Steps Should Be Taken When a Shipping Drum Is Contaminated? 

With regular inspections, you should notice if something is out of place or if there are any signs of contamination. It’s also important to have health and safety procedures in place that can be followed should contamination arise.

Different materials and goods will require different procedures to take place. For example, if hazardous goods become contaminated, then of course this is a much more dangerous situation than if sand or oil were contaminated.

As a minimum, the following steps should be taken:

  • Ensure the area is safe from further contamination
  • Identify the goods that have been contaminated and locate any warning labels
  • Identify and remove the source of the contamination, if safe to do so
  • Dispose of the contaminated goods as per guidelines
  • Ensure the shipping drum is decontaminated

Depending on the extent of the contamination, the shipping drum can be reused again if it is safe to do so. Shipping drums can be thoroughly decontaminated, however once contaminated, they should never be used to store food or drink again.

How to Prevent the Risk of Contamination When Shipping Drums 

Minimising the risk of contamination when shipping drums is the best way to avoid accidents occurring. To start, it’s integral that any business follows HSE guidelines when storing and shipping industrial goods.

Particular care and attention must be paid to the rules and regulations concerning hazardous, flammable or explosive goods that could cause harm if contaminated. All businesses should have stringent health and safety procedures in place to avoid contamination, and protocols that can be employed rapidly if accidents occur.

In addition, there are several basic measures that can be followed in order to minimise the risk of contamination. These include:

  • Carrying out regular inspections of shipping drums
  • Keeping shipping drums inside or undercover
  • Using UV or dust covers to protect drums
  • Storing drums away from potential sources of contamination
  • Keeping temperatures cool and consistent
  • Ensuring drums are sealed correctly
  • Ensuring drums are stacked and stored safely and correctly
  • Ensuring drums are safely stowed during transit
  • Carrying out adequate risk assessments

Contact ITP Packaging Today to Find Out More About Shipping Drums 

Fibre shipping drums, plastic shipping drums and steel shipping drums are all excellent ways to safely store and ship industrial goods across the world.

To avoid contamination, it’s important to follow rules, regulations and guidelines when handling, storing and shipping containers. This is particularly important if hazardous goods are in transit.

ITP Packaging stocks a comprehensive range of industrial shipping containers, and our expert team are ready to answer your questions regarding safety and contamination. Contact our friendly staff today to find out more.

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