Millions of packages are both shipped and delivered every day both nationally and internationally. The bulk of these packages are run-of-the-mill and contain standard items like clothing, furniture, and other household items.
However, both the public and private shipping industries are publicly responsible for attempting to insure that the packages they are transmitting are not hazardous in any way.
UPS, FedEx, and the United States Postal Service all have publicly accessible information on what sort of materials are hazardous and what shipper’s responsibilities are in terms of shipping.
A list of hazardous materials is easily accessible on any shipping and specific regulations that go along with each restricted item are readily viewable. Some examples of hazardous materials include alcohol, chemical kits, first aid kits, iodine, mercury, petroleum, liquids that may be toxic by inhalation, and sample explosives.
Each material comes with specific regulations and reasons why the material may be hazardous to ship (ex. flammable, corrosive, poisonous). Some hazardous materials come with a blanket ban on shipping, whereas others may be transported by ground or sea but not by air, or vice versa.
In addition, there are some materials that have been designated as prohibited completely and cannot be transported in the postal system. These items include explosives, blasting agents, spontaneously combustible items, items that carry inhalation hazards, poison, radioactive materials, infectious substances, and items that are dangerous when wet.
Although many of the completely prohibited are common sense, others are confusing, especially since you can sometimes ship them via one shipping medium but not others. Shipping is already a stressful process, but trying to figure out if you are going to run into a situation by shipping a potentially hazardous system only adds to frustrations.
Instead of spending time worrying about whether an item can be successfully shipped, users can call, text, or even email in to an interactive voice response system to get a very specific answer. The IVR can both process and interpret the question, checking with various back-end databases to give shippers the most accurate explanation of how their product or good can be successfully shipped.