Have you ever seen a package with the letters “UN” on it and wondered what they meant? This marking is an indication that the package has been tested to meet safety and performance requirements when shipping hazardous materials.
The United Nations (UN) created a classification system and labeling requirements for packages that contain hazardous materials to ensure safety during transportation.
In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of UN packaging markings, how they are classified, and how you can use them in your business.
What do UN Packaging Markings Mean?
The UN packaging marking system helps organizations identify and transport UN certified boxes of hazardous materials safely.
The marking includes information about what type of product is being transported, who created the package, and if there are any special requirements for transporting it. The “UN” stands for United Nations and serves as an indication that the package meets international standards for safe shipping of hazardous materials
How Are Packages Classified?
Packages or UN certified boxes containing hazardous materials are broken down into nine hazard classes based on their risk level.
These classes range from explosives to corrosive agents. Each class is further divided into divisions based on the severity of its risk level, such as flammable liquids or toxic solids.
Once a package has been classified, it must be labeled with the appropriate hazard class number and division number so shippers know how to handle it properly during transit.
What Information Should be Included on a Label?
In addition to the hazard class number, labels should also include product-specific information such as the name of the material being shipped, a description of its contents (including any additives), and its UN identification number.
Labels may also include additional information such as special handling instructions or precautions that need to be taken when storing or transporting it.
Also, some packages may require additional labeling depending on their size or weight—for example, large packages over 400lbs require special shipping labels that indicate which side is up or down when loading onto trucks or planes.
Understanding the UN Markings
UN markings can be quite confusing at first glance. However, understanding what each symbol means is relatively simple once you break down the code.
1H2/Y21/S/10/USA/+AA4708 is the example at the top.
This indicates that the container is a plastic drum or pail with an open head. For chemicals in Packaging Groups II and III (medium and small hazards), the Packing Group “Y” is permitted; the maximum gross mass for solid contents is 21 kg.
The container was produced in the USA in 2010. The facility where the package is made or tested has the code +AA4708.
1H2/Y1.5/30/10/USA/+AA4708 is the example at the bottom.
This informs us that the container is an open-head drum or pail made of plastic. The maximum liquid specific gravity is 1.5, while the hydrostatic test pressure is around 30. Substances in packaging groups II and III are suitable for the packing group “Y.” (medium and mild danger).
The container was made in the United States in 2010. The manufacturing facilities or testing facility’s code for the package is +AA4708.
Below is a breakdown of the first 3 character groups:
Packaging Identification Code
3 Characters Make Up The Package Identification Code (for open head or closed head single packagings).
There is a specific significance for each character. Packaging or Container is indicated in the first. Material for the container is indicated by the second. Inside the type, the third character indicates the category.
- Composite Packagings
- Natural Wood
- Fiberboard/Fiber (corrugated)
- Reconstituted Wood
- Paper, Multiwall
- Glass, Porcelain or Stoneware
- Metal, other than Steel or Aluminum
2. Open head
Equivalent Packaging Group Level
The equivalent at the packaging group level consists of three sets of characters. Although the first character set indicates the type of packaging, the second and third character sets indicate whether the contents are solid or liquid.
The packing group is identified by letters and the level of danger or hazard is indicated:
- for Packaging Group I, II, and II
- for Packaging Groups II and III
- for Packaging Group III.
High Risk = Packaging Group I (high hazard)
Moderate Risk Packing Group II (medium hazard)
Minor danger according Group III (low hazard)
Density or Specific Gravity OR Mass
Density or Specific Gravity: Liquid stand-alone products must be labeled with the specific gravity, rounded to the nearest decimal point.
Mass: This marking will provide the maximum gross mass (weight) in kilos for packaging intended for solids (powders,capsules, pills, and tablets) (of the entire tested unit).
Solids or Hydrostatic Test Pressure
Containers specific to solids or interior packaging are designated with a “S” following the mass. Liquid containers are subjected to the hydrostatic test pressure in kPa (kilopascals), rounded to the nearest 10kPa.
UN packaging markings are essential for businesses that ship hazardous materials around the world because they provide clear guidelines for safe handling during transit.
Packages are classified into nine hazard classes according to their risk level, with each class further divided into divisions based on its severity.
Labels should include product-specific information such as name of material being shipped, description of contents (including any additives), UN identification number, special handling instructions/precautions, etc., depending on size/weight of package – large packages over 400lbs require special shipping labels indicating which side is up/down when loading onto trucks/planes.
Understanding these rules and regulations concerning UN packaging markings businesses can ensure their shipments reach their destination safely without incident!