The principle of safe transport by road and rail is the same as for air: the packaged material should not have any possibility of escaping from the package under normal conditions of transport.
For surface transport where there is no possibility of the package being transported by air, substances categorised as Infectious Substances, Category A, should be packed to IATA Packing Instruction 650 or Packing Instruction 602.
For substances categorised as Biological Substances, Category B or Category C (non-infectious) and where there is no possibility of the package being transported by air, triple packaging (see Figure A4.2) should be used.
PackagingPackaging for all substances should consist of three components (triple packed; see Figure A4.2) and must be packaged as follows:
- The primary receptacle(s) should be leakproof
- The primary receptacle(s) should be placed into leakproof secondary packaging with sufficient absorbent material to absorb any likely spill. Multiple fragile primary receptacles must be packed with suitable cushioning material in such a way that any release of liquid substance will not compromise the integrity of the cushioning material
- The secondary packaging/s should be placed into an outer packaging of adequate strength for its capacity, mass and intended use and with a secure closure to prevent loss of contents.
See Table A4.1 for examples of suitable containers and packaging.
Triple packaging is recommended for the surface transport of all specimens/substances. For Exempt/Category C specimens, the minimum requirement may be relaxed to double packaging, but then only after a formal documented risk assessment.
Table A4.1 Examples of containers and packaging for surface transport of specimens
|Absorbent material||Cotton wool, shredded newspaper|
Vernagel (not for formalin)
Combine dressing (for formalin)
|Cushioning material||Cotton wool, shredded paper|
|Outer packaging||Cardboard box, supported polystyrene box, dispatch satchel, plastic box|
|Primary receptacle||Blood tube|
Histology specimen container
|Leakproof secondary packaging with sufficient absorbent material to contain a spill||Clean bottle with screw lid|
Snap-lock plastic bag (see explanatory note below)
Heat-sealed plastic bag
Note: A common practice in many pathology laboratories is to place each individual patient’s samples into separate sealable individual plastic bags (one patient per plastic bag). It is important to note that where these separate plastic bags are placed directly inside an outer insulated packaging container, this does not meet the requirements of triple packaging, as there is no absorbent material between the primary receptacle and the outer packaging. To meet the requirements of secondary packaging, the individual patient plastic bags would need to be placed inside a larger bag or container with an appropriate amount of absorbent material.
To fulfil the requirements of triple packaging, note that the common packaging arrangement shown in Figure A4.1 needs to be modified, so that the primary receptacles are placed inside an additional container (which could be as simple as a larger plastic bag with a zip-lock, or a heat sealed plastic bag) containing absorbent material sufficient to absorb any likely spill, before being placed in the outer packaging container.
Marking and labellingPackages for surface transport must be marked on the outer packaging with:
- the sender’s name and address
- the receiver’s name and address
- an emergency contact name and phone number.
Documentation, such as identifying paperwork, should be packed separately from the primary receptacle(s).
RefrigerantsPeople working with dry ice or liquid nitrogen are exposed to a number of potential hazards (including cold contact burn to the skin and, especially, the eyes) if handled inappropriately.
Dry iceWhen used, dry ice must be placed outside the secondary packagings and interior supports provided to keep the secondary packagings in the original position after the dry ice has dissipated.
The packaging must permit release of carbon dioxide gas to prevent build-up of pressure that could rupture the packaging. The package must be marked ‘dry ice’.