Transport Damage Analysis of Dangerous Goods: State-of-the-art Report for Baltic Ports

Daniel Ekwall, Håkan Torstensson

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


The transport of dangerous goods incorporates hazards, which may seriously affect people, property and the environment in various adverse ways. One preventive measure is torequire sturdy, certified packaging and tanks, which can withstand occurring transport stresses and thus reduce the likelihood of leakage and damage.

For non-dangerous goods, there is also a risk of damage by excess transport stresses, and the same challenge of designing an adequate protection, now primarily for the goods themselves, is obvious. Most dangerous goods accidents result in insignificant consequences, as fatalities or major releases of substances are relatively rare.

The transport of dangerous goods has since many years been harmonized internationally between different modes of transport, based on the UN Model Regulations (2017). A weakness of the UN performance tests is the small number of test objects. There is a significant likelihood that an approved packaging will fail if tested a second time, or conversely, if a failed packaging is retested it will likely pass, if reasonably well constructed. Several attempts have been made to characterize and quantify the stresses, which occur during transport of both dangerous and non-dangerous, but sensitive goods. It includes both mechanical loads, from vibrations, impact, stacking or lateral forces, and climatic factors, such as high or low temperature, temperature variations or moisture by condensation or precipitation.

When comparing damage rates for different modes of transport, one should have in mind that there is a relationship between the utilization of a specific mode of transport and the value and weight of any particular type of goods. Energy and agriculture products, which are lower-value and higher-weight goods, are more likely to be moved by ship and pipelines, while electronics and precision instruments, which are higher-value and lower-weight goods, are moved by air. As a consequence, the dangerous goods of the lower-value/higher-weight type would typically be handled at a seaport, while goods of higher-value/lower-weight would pass through an airport.

In a cargo handling perspective, those goods are different and require different actions, and the damage patterns are also different. Most investigations on transport damage were carried out near the turn of the century and were partly very thorough but can now appear aged. A first step for future research in this area should be a simple risk assessment for the traditionally most common causes of cargo damage (shock and impact, vibration, stacking overload, torn packaging, moisture, mould, wet packaging, overheating, freezing, overpressure, leakage and fire) but also in relation with lost goods reasons (theft, jettison). It is essential to achieve a good understanding of whether the trends regarding cargo damage and loss are changing or stable over time, in order to assess the relevance of available data and the need for new investigations.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTurku
PublisherTurku School of Economics
Number of pages36
ISBN (Print)978-951-29-7593-8
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

Publication series

NamePublications of the HAZARD project


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Cargo damage
  • Dangerous goods
  • Port activities
  • Risk management
  • Port facilities


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