Training in industrial Disaster Risk Management – Transportation of Hazardous Substances by Road

The rapid increase in the transportation of hazardous chemicals has enhanced the accident potential during transit. In transit, the goods would subject to impact, vibration, compression and other adverse effects and exposure to harmful environment. The other factors such as improper packing of the contents, poor storage may also lead to release of chemicals to the environment resulting in emergencies like fire, explosion, toxic release, etc.

Apart from pollution of land, water and air, such emergencies have potential to cause injuries and death, property damage and environmental degradation. Availability of information on the hazards and control measures at the time of emergency is vital for minimizing the effect of such accidents. This module is intended to provide the first hand knowledge about the hazard information system as implemented in India and its status of implementation.

This module is for the following target groups:

  • Traffic Police
  • Industries
  • Transporters
  • Emergency Managers
  • Fire Fighters
  • Drivers

Hazard information systems

The movement of hazardous substances by any mode of transport, presents in general, a greater risk of accidental release. It is due to absence of the availability of appropriate information in transport accidents. The need for essential information to be clearly displayed in transport emergency has always been accepted by both industry and the emergency services. The basis of many emergency information systems adopted in various parts of the world has been a combination of hazard classification and United Nations substance identification.

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U.N. classification for hazard and substance identification

The classification of chemical hazards as recommended by the UN Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods has been widely adopted for transport of hazardous chemicals for all modes of transport. Hazard types are segregated into nine basic classes represented numerically. Many of these classes are further separated in to divisions and subdivisions according to appropriate criteria. The international classification system is given in the table below (table-1). In India to manage accidents in transportation of hazardous chemicals “Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989” have been framed.

Table-1 UN international classification system
CLASS 1 EXPLOSIVESDivision 1.1Explosives with a mass explosion hazard
Division 1.2Explosives with a projection hazard
Division 1.3Explosives with predominantly a fire hazard
Division 1.4Explosives with no significant blast hazard
Division 1.5Very insensitive explosives
Division 1.6Extremely insensitive explosive articles
CLASS 2 GASESDivision 2.1Flammable Gases
Division 2.2Non Flammable Gases
Division 2.3Poison Gases
CLASS 3 FLAMMABLE LIQUIDSDivision 3.1Flashpoint below – 18°C (0°F)
Division 3.2Flashpoint – 18°C and above but less than 23°C (73°F)
Division 3.3Flashpoint of 23°C and up to 61°C (141°F)
Division 4.2Spontaneously combustible materials
Division 4.3Materials that are dangerous when wet
Division 5.2Organic Peroxides
Division 6.2Etiologic (Infectious) Materials

The pictogram, hazard-warning diamonds may also bear an approved inscription quoting the hazard and /or the United Nations hazard class number. The basic principle however, is that the shape, colour and pictogram convey a clear message of danger, thus overcoming language difficulties. With international acceptance, the value of such labeling system when displayed on vehicles and packages is clear because:

  1. It provides a warning to the general public to keep away.
  2. In an accidental situation the emergency services are provided with an indication of the primary hazard likely to be encountered.

Responsibilities of consignor, the transporter or owner of goods carriage and the driver

Responsibilities of consignor

The consignor has to ensure the following points:

  1. The goods carriage has a valid registration to carry the hazardous goods.
  2. The vehicle is equipped with necessary First-aid, Safety equipments and antidotes as may be necessary.
  3. The transporter or owner of the goods carriage has full and adequate information about the dangerous or hazardous goods being transported.
  4. The driver of the goods carriage is to be trained in handling the dangers posed during transport of such goods.
  5. Every consignor shall supply to the owner of the goods carriage full and adequate information about the dangerous or hazardous goods, being transported as to enable such owner and its driver to:
  • Comply with the requirements of rules 129 to 137
  • To make aware of the risks created by such goods to health or safety of any person.

Hazardous Chemicals

Responsibilities of the transporter or owner of goods carriage

It shall be the responsibility of the owner or transporter to ensure the following:

  • The goods carriage has valid registration and permit and is safe for the transportation of the said goods.
  • The vehicle is equipped with necessary First-Aid, safety equipment, tool box and antidotes as may be necessity to contain any accident.
  1. The owner or transporter should satisfy himself that the information given by the consignor is full and accurate in all respects as specified in rule 137.
  2. The owner or transporter should ensure that the driver being deputed for transportation is trained to handle and transport such hazardous materials and has information as annex V of rule 132.
  3. The owner of the goods carriage carrying dangerous or hazardous goods and the consignor of such goods shall lay down the route for each trip or permitted otherwise by police authorities.
  4. The owner of the goods carriage should ensure that the driver holds a driving license as per provisions of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules.

Responsibilities of the driver

It is the responsibility of the driver to keep all information provided to him in writing i.e., in the form TREM CARD (Transport Emergency Card). This is to be kept in the driver’s cabin and should be available at all times while hazardous material is being transported (Rule 133). Driver will also ensure that parked vehicle is safe from fire, explosion or any other risk.

As per Rule the driver should have the ability to read and write at least one Indian language specified in the Constitution and English language.

The driver should have successfully passed a course connected with the transport of hazardous goods.

Driver to be instructed

The owner of every goods carriage transporting dangerous or hazardous goods shall ensure to the satisfaction of the consignor that the driver of the goods carriage has received adequate instructions and training to enable him to understand the nature of the goods being transported, by him, the nature of the risks raising out of such goods, precautions he should take while the goods carriage is in motion or stationary and the action he has to take in case of any emergency (Rule 135).

Department. of Factories

Driver to Report to the police station about accident:

The driver of a goods carriage transporting any dangerous or hazardous goods shall, on the occurrence of an accident involving any dangerous or hazardous goods transported by his carriage, report forthwith to the nearest police station and also inform the owner of the goods carriage or the transporter regarding the accident (Rule 136).

Emergency information panel

In India, it is mandatory for the vehicles transporting hazardous chemicals to display Emergency Information Panel (EIP) with details and at places as specified under Rule 134 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 as shown in the next figure.

Every goods carriage used for transporting any dangerous or hazardous goods shall be legibly and conspicuously marked with an emergency information panel in each of the three places as specified, so that the emergency information panel faces to each side of the carriage and to its rear and such panel shall contain the following information viz.,

  • The correct technical name of the dangerous or hazardous goods in letters not less than 50 mm high.
  • The United Nations class number for the dangerous goods in letters not less than 100 mm high (Rule 137).
  • The class label of the dangerous or hazardous goods in the size of not less than 250 mm square.
  • The name and telephone number of the emergency services to be contacted in the event of fire or any other accident in letters and numerals that are not less than 50 mm high and the name and telephone number of the consignor of the dangerous or hazardous goods or of some other person from whom expert information and advice can be obtained concerning the measures that should be taken in the event of emergency.

Every class label and emergency information panel (EIP) shall be marked on the goods carriage and shall be kept free and clean from obstruction at all times.

The emergency information panel (EIP) should have dimensions as shown in the next figure.

One practical problem encountered with the use of EIP is the selection of the substance identification number and the HAZCHEM code to be incorporated in the EIP when a tanker transports different chemicals in different compartments. The solution in such case is to incorporate the word “Multi-load” in the sections of EIP earmarked for “UN Number” and “HAZCHEM” and to label each compartment separately with the UN number and HAZCHEM code corresponding to the chemical in the compartment.

As to the level of compliance to this statutory requirement, it is quite disheartening to note the lack of concern shown by both, the consignors / transporters as well as the various regulatory agencies involved. It has been observed that carriers are not displaying the details of hazards chemical in EIR.

Following deficiencies in respect of the Emergency Information Panels on hazardous goods carriers was further observed:

Types of major chemical/industrial hazards – Fire

Display of EIP not in accordance with the provisions laid down in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 (CMVR). The EIP as per CMVR should be displayed at three locations on a carrier viz; extreme back and both sides of the vehicle with class label in front of the vehicle (Fig 1). It has been observed that in place of information as per EIP and information of hazardous chemicals other information is provided (photo-5, 6). Photo 5 has no EIP and photo 6 has no information as per colour code. Both photos are of same one vehcle.

The information given in the EIP does not match with the chemical being transported. This may be due to:
– Carelessness in adhering, to CMVR requirements by the Consignor.
– Driver of the vehicle not affixing on the EIP, the stickers for class label, UN number HAZCHEM, etc. supplied by the consignor at the time of loading a chemical

  • Carriers designed for other purpose are being used for transporting of hazardous goods. Photo 7 shows the transportation of LPG cylinders in ordinary truck without EIP.
  • Some time EIP on paper has printed and pasted on vehicle these paper during transportation during rainy season washed out.

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Emergency procedures in the event of a Tanker/Truck accident

  1. If possible drive out of populated areas.
  2. Identify the cargo, refer labels, TREM Card, instructions.
  3. In case of a major leak of highly inflammable gas/vapour do not start the engine,
  4. Order on lookers to leave the affected area.
  5. Stop pilferage of the leaked substance, it can be dangerous.
  6. Secure the accident area and divert traffic.
  7. Remove affected persons for first aid.
  8. In the event of electrical fire, isolate the battery of the vehicle.
  9. In case of fire, inform Fire Station, avoid inhalation of fumes, use gas masks if required.
  10. In case of leaks, see if it can be arrested easily.
  11. Contain small spills by covering with sand.
  12. Avoid direct contact with skin, wash with water and use necessary protective clothing like PVC apron.
  13. In case of contact with eyes or skin wash with plenty of water. For any major contamination, remove clothing immediately.

Initial isolation and protective action distances


Only a few chemicals of the Motor vehicle Rules, 1989 and whose vapours have the potential to produce toxic effects have been selected. The table 6 is useful for no more than 80 minutes of an incident involving these hazardous chemicals. It is suggested that the use of this table be limited specifically to the initial phase of a NO FIRE spill incident during transport.

The smallest ISOLATION DISTANCE indicated in the table is 45.7 meters and the smallest PROTECTIVE ACTION DISTANCE is 320 meters. This means that 45.7 meters is the minimum distance for isolating the unprotected public for any hazardous chemical spill that is listed in the table. Distances for both small spills and large spills are shown in the table and the largest distance for protective action is 8 km. The approximate distance and air borne release would travel in 30 minutes with a wind speed of 2.68 m/s. Some releases could require protective actions beyond 8 km after the first 30 minutes following the initial release.

This module assists the first responders in identifying hazardous chemicals and provides advice for initial emergency action. It is not an excuse for a responder to try to control an accident alone. Instead, the first responder will take action to and move an unprotected person out of the danger area.

If a hazardous chemical cloud goes between several multi story building or a down a valley the cloud may affect people much further away from the distances specified and protective action distances should be increased accordingly. Fire involvement in an additional leaking tank also indicates the need to increase the isolation and protective action distances.

For hazardous chemicals listed in the table, if a fire begins and burns the spill chemical, the toxic effects may become less important compared to the fire, explosion or BLEVE hazards. For flammable chemicals the potential fragmentation hazards i.e. formation of thermal degradation product usually requires a greater isolation area in all directions despite any shorter distances suggested in the table.

Regardless of the number of meters that have been indicated if unprotected people are being affected the isolation and protective action distances should be increased.

Every hazardous chemical incident is different. Each can have special problems and concerns. Actions to protect public must be selected carefully. This module can help with a initial decision on how to protect the threatened public. Officials must continue to gather information and monitor the situation.

Evacuation is by itself, a process with significant risk for the persons being evacuated. Therefore, protecting in place should always be a first consideration If the buildings can be sealed tightly from any fresh air entering. In the case of short term spills and cold toxic vapour clouds the hazardous chemicals may be deflected or reflected by the multi-story buildings and pass by without affecting the occupants of the buildings. People in the upper floors of a tall rise building within the downwind protective action distance may often be safer by remaining where they are. Air handling equipments if any, like air conditioners, etc. should be shut down to keep out hazardous chemical vapours.

It is vital that communication is constantly maintained with competent persons inside such buildings so that they could be advised of the changing conditions. Those persons protected in place should be warned to stay far from a window in direct line of the scene of the incident.


Based on a Gaussian dispersion model, isolation and protective distances have been predicted. A small spill refers to an accident with a container size equal to or smaller than a 248 kg drum (55 gallons). Large spill refers to a one ton cylinder a tank truck or rail car. Predictions are for neutral weather stability (class D), overcast night with wind speed of 2.68 rn/s and a temperature of 35°C. LC 50 values were used to estimate short term exposure limits wherever TLVs STELs or TLV-TWAs were not available.


  1. Responders should have:
  • Identified the material by its ID Number and Name;
  • Noted the wind direction.
  1. Now responders should look in this table for the ID Number and Name of the chemical in this incident. Some ID numbers have more than one shipping name listed. Look for the specific name of the chemical.
  2. If respond find a matching entry in the table, use the following steps (3 to 6) to determine the area requiring immediate protective actions.
  3. Determine if the incident involves a SMALL or LARGE spill. Generally a SMALL SPILL is one which involves a single, small package (i.e. up to a 200¬248 kg or one drum), small cylinder, or a small leak from a large package. A LARGE SPILL is one which involves a big spill from an opening in a large package or multiple spills from many small packages.
  4. Look up the initial ISOLATION distance. Direct all persons to move, in a crosswind direction, away from the spill to the distance specified.

Next, look up the initial PROTECTIVE ACTION DISTANCE shown in the table. For a given hazardous chemical and spill size, the table gives the distance in meters downwind in which protective actions should be considered. For practical purposes, the Protective Action Zone (i.e. the area in which people are at risk of harmful exposure) is a square, whose length and width are the same as the downwind distance shown in the table.

Initiate Protective Actions to the extent possible, beginning with those closest to the spill site and working away from the site in the down wind direction.

The shape of the area in which protective actions should be taken (the Protective Action Zone) is shown in this figure. The spill is located at the center of the small circle. The circle represents the ISOLATION zone around the spill.

If the material is on fire or explosion, there may be toxic combustion products.


This module is based on the deviations observed in compliance of CMVR 1989 during transporting the hazardous chemicals on roads.

This module provides the information on various provisions of CMVR 1989. At this module will help to understand the provisions of CMVR 1989.

    • EIP
  • HAZCHEM codes
  • Action to be taken during emergency


Probability:The likelihood that a considered occurrence will take, place.
Accident:Any unplanned, sudden event which causes or is liable to cause injury to people or damage to building, plant, material or the environment.
Consequence:Result of a specific event.
Emergency plan:A formal written plan which, on the basis of identified potential accidents together with their consequences, describe how such accidents and their consequences should be handled either on-site or off-site.
Evacuation:Evacuate means to move all people from a threatened area to a safer place. To perform an evacuation, there must be enough time for people to be warned, to get ready, and to leave an area. Generally, if there is enough time for evacuation, it Is likely to be the best protective action.
Hazard:An inherent property of a substance, agent, source of energy or situation having the potential of causing undesirable consequences.
Incidents:Accidents and/or near misses.
Hazardous substances:An element, compound, mixture or preparation which, by virtue of chemical, physical or (eco) toxicological properties constitutes a hazard.
In-place protection:In-place protection means to direct people to quickly go inside a building and remain inside until the danger passes. When protecting people inside, direct them to close all doors and windows and to shut off all ventilating, heating and cooling systems. In-place protection is used when evacuating the public would cause greater risk than directing them to stay where they are, or when an evacuation cannot be performed. When inside people must keep all windows and doors closed. In-place protection may not be the best option if the vapours are explosive, if it will take a long time for the gas to clear the area, or if the buildings cannot be tightly closed.
Isolation:Isolate Hazard Area and Deny Entry means to keep everybody away from the area if they are not directly involved in emergency response operations. Unprotected emergency responders should not be allowed within the isolation area. This ‘Isolation” task is done first to get control of a place to work. This is the first step for any protective action that follows.
Major accidents:Any unplanned, sudden event which causes or is liable to cause serious injury to people or damage to buildings, plant, material or the environment.
Risk:The combination of a consequence and the probability of its occurrence.
Risk assessment:The value judgment of the significance of the risk, identified by a risk analysis taking into account any relevant criteria.
Risk management:Actions taken to achieve or improve the safety of the installation and its operation.
Transport:This means movement of hazardous substances from one place to another or air, rail, road or water.
Transporter:A person or an organisation engaged in the offsite transportation of a hazardous substances by air, rail, road or water.

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