With the holiday season many of us are opting out of the busy malls and stores, and simply shopping from the comfort of our own homes. To make this option even more enticing some retailers are even offering free 2-day shipping during the holiday season. While this seems like a win-win situation for all there are some obstacles that have been coming to the surface, and unfortunately we are not just talking about late deliveries. According to the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, the world’s largest internet retailer, Amazon, has seen a sharp increase in reports of shipments allegedly violating the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. In 2009, Amazon only had two incident reports, but that number jumped to 32 in 2016 before reaching 42 so far this year. This has caused Amazon to ultimately respond as they soon plan on adding new penalty fees for packages that fail to comply with its safety requirements.
The main issue here is many third-party sellers on Amazon aren’t trained to ship dangerous goods, and simply don’t understand that what they are shipping is indeed hazardous. These third-party sellers often don’t realize what actions need to be taken per the Hazardous Material Regulations that exist to safeguard those who may come in contact with the dangerous goods. For that reason, often times the correct labeling, packaging, and paperwork required to ship dangerous goods is completely overlooked. Multiple reports recently involved undeclared aerosols that were flammable and had no hazardous markings on the packages, as well as a number of undeclared lithium-ion batteries that had smoke seeping out of the package. A wide variety of incidents like below have also taken place in recent times as a result:
A few weeks ago, 54 Amazon warehouse employees in New Jersey were exposed to bear repellent after its container was punctured, and required medical treatment, according to local news reports.
In April 2018, a gas pressure washer was shipped with gasoline inside the machine. The report said that the fuel eventually leaked, and the package was found to have none of the required hazardous markings visible.
In March of 2018, warehouse employees at an Amazon facility complained of hand, arm, and skin irritation. After an investigation, it was later discovered there was a hazardous spill from a package containing Red Crown High Test Lye, which could potentially cause severe burns.
How the Fees Will Work
Amazon ran a trial run the week of November 29th, and will charge the fee under what it calls “unplanned services”. All packages must meet safety standards in six specific areas: shipping box overweight, shipping box oversized, electrical products hazard, sharp products hazard, spilled products hazard, and unacceptable pallet condition. Although sellers express the need for clarity by Amazon of the official fee structure, they will be notified one month in advance before they are actually charged for the fees.
Amazon believes charging for safety violations is an effort to both protect Amazon employees from unsafe conditions like leaking chemicals and unmarked harmful substances, both of which have been reported, and to ensure a safe experience for the customer.
Undeclared Dangerous Goods
Keep in mind that undeclared dangerous goods are never “just” anything. View this infographic for a sample of products that are dangerous goods. Get trained. It’s your responsibility.