i'm back from my latest adventure. i really learned a lot about shipping radioactive materials by air.... oh, wait, uh... you didn't know that the airplane you ride on might have radioactive materials under your seat? or any number of other hazardous materials? HA. guess you learned something too.
anyway, here are a couple of things i learned in the haz. substance shipping class:
the FAA is not shy about levying fines for stupidity.
batteries have become one of the number one issues for carriers. more packages are being shipped with batteries than ever before. and they are causing many, many problems, including grounding aircraft due to fires. if you want to send a component that uses a battery, remove the battery, and put a completely sealed fresh package of batteries in the box. shitcan the ones you took out of the component, or use them around the house. just don't ship them.
the FAA is not shy about sending people to jail.
the old "shipping clerk" of yore is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. especially in businesses that deal with hazardous substances. the definition of hazardous substances might surprise you. have you ever ordered some food product, or some other product that was shipped with dry ice to keep it cold? guess what? that was a hazardous substance shipment.
many of the folks in the fedex class i took were PhDs at research facilities, as well as a scattering of military (yea, imagine having to fill out the shipping manifest for a truck load of bombs), and others like me, where shipping is just another of many collateral duties.
the FAA inspects at a minimum 50 shippers a year, per district offce. i don't know how many districts there are in the FAA, but the chances of getting audited goes way up if you make mistakes that get your shipments bumped back from the carrier. bottom line, don't screw up.
the FAA is way less humorous than the Dept of Transportation (they regulate ground shipments). way, way less humorous. as in, they have no sense of humor whatsoever when it comes to screwing up a shipment. something about airplanes loaded with passengers, or something like that.
anyway. it was a good class, and i'm glad i got the chance to go to it. in denver. where, as one local put it, "everyone drinks beer and eats steaks". sounds good to me!