My short bio: I've been working for a freight forwarder for a little over a decade. I'm certified in hazardous materials, including and not limited to; radioactive materials and exempt human specimens. I'm not sure if anyone is really all that interested, but I've been asked by several redditors for an AMA, so here I am. Thanks, guys.

My Proof: See the mods. As I don't exactly want to post my personal information for everyone, I've messaged the mods my credentials.

Comments: 75 • Responses: 27  • Date: 

Mjgaga10 karma

What's the most sketchy thing you've shipped before? Whether it be poorly sealed, improperly stored, etc.

Rap3DBac0N7 karma

Sketchy thing that actually shipped? Or the most sketchy thing that somebody tried to ship?

ajsayshello-6 karma

either is fine.

Rap3DBac0N20 karma

Actually shipped; Hrm... I'd have to say some radioactive material from a nuclear power plant.

Most sketchy thing that someone tried shipping; a leaking metal container. We were notified by the pickup driver... he sent pictures and the shipper would not tell us what was inside. There was some sort of corrosive fluid coming out of the container, literally eating the concrete that it was on, outside the dock.

121mhz6 karma

I'm not an expert, but shouldn't there be an MSDS for that shipment? What did they say was in it?

Rap3DBac0N6 karma

Yes, there should've been. But again, they did not provide any paperwork and would not tell us what it was. So we just left it there...

To this day, still have no idea what it was.

chrome-spokes1 karma

So we just left it there... To this day, still have no idea what it was.


No clean up?

No hazmat crew called in?

No authority was notified to over-ride the shipper's mum B.S.?

Would not want to work for your outfit. Not knowing if even the fumes from something as such may screw you up?

Rap3DBac0N2 karma

Meaning we didn't pursue the shipment. There was contact with the authorities; mainly because of what our driver witnessed.

You're making it sound like you think it was just a tanker load of fluid... but in reality it was a small container, and from what I saw, there was only maybe a half gallon to a gallon worth of fluid around the container. So it wasn't like Deep Horizon blew up all over there dock... (shit, is it too soon to be making references to that?)

I'm sure that it was cleaned up, however we're a shipping company...not a janitorial service. So once we refused the shipment, we wiped our hands clean of happenings following.

chrome-spokes2 karma

Heya, thanks for the quick reply.

Please do excuse my sounding alarmed. Just was going off what limited info you told us, ok?

So, thanks for clearing that up.

To close, I worked steam boilers back in the day when heavy-metal chromate's were used as an anti-corrosive agent for our water treatment. And before we were issued appropriate handing gear.

So, a work buddy was stirring up some chromate in a bucket when just a little bit of it splashed up onto his face & lips. His whole face swelled up and put him the hospital. This is why I came off so strong, f*cking with stuff one doesn't fully know about the hazards of.

Rap3DBac0N2 karma

Enter OSHA, at least here in the States. Of course, in the last two decades, safety regulations have increased ten fold over what they used to be... obviously to keep things like that from happening. Ultimately, it comes down to the individual being mindful of what they're handling and making sure SOP is being followed to the T.

I am sorry about your buddy, I don't mean to sound cold. I know that accidents happen and it sucks...

uptowndevil9 karma

Have you ever had an "I'm getting too old for this shit" moment? What was it?

Also, have you ever referred to freight forwarding as "the game" in conversation with other people in the freight forwarding business?

Do you go to any freight conventions?

What OS do you use?

Rap3DBac0N11 karma

I had a woman ask me one time if we could move her house. Mind you, it wasn't like a trailer home or modified home, it was an 'on a slab, 3000sqft house'. She apparently was divorcing her husband and literally wanted to take the home... I had no words.

Also, have you ever referred to freight forwarding as "the game" in conversation with other people in the freight forwarding business?

No. But fuck it, I may just now... probably not though, on second thought. That sounds really "douchey"...

Do you go to any freight conventions?

Yes. There are tradeshows/conventions that are centered around freight forwarding and the like.

What OS do you use?

It's a mixture of shit and some 1's and 0's. It's really great... like, something from the 70's.

uptowndevil1 karma

It's douchey but it's so obviously douchey that it becomes hilarious.

Rap3DBac0N2 karma

That's true. I'm going to try and use it this week...

fpac7 karma

what's the weirdest thing you've seen come through?

Rap3DBac0N15 karma

I would have to say the body parts that some companies ship for classes. Whole hips, thighs, hands, feet, lower jaws... things like that.

cahaseler6 karma

So you're the one shipping the Note 7s back?

Rap3DBac0N9 karma

Oh no. No no no.

Now we're really going to be fucked if Apple starts having problems with their product...


aaaaaaaarrrrrgh3 karma

Oh no. No no no.

This makes me think that you consider the Note 7 logistics a nightmare (despite dealing nuclear waste and customers trying to ship leaky containers of corrosive liquid). How much of a problem would shipping the Note7s actually be?

Also, surprised I had to scroll this far for the Note 7 post.

Rap3DBac0N2 karma

Since the TSA and FAA has gotten involved and made a big issue(because it actually it is a very dangerous situation) out the Note 7's, we (forwarders) have to be even more careful when processing our clients freight. We've had numerous email reminders go out about it, and our in-house TSA compliance team is VERY insistent on making sure that we're all up to speed on any new developments with the TSA regulations regarding the Note 7's.

xXxNoScopeMLGxXx1 karma

Did/do you have a Note 7?

Rap3DBac0N1 karma

I do not, no.

4HIT1 karma

So who does?

Rap3DBac0N5 karma

I'm sure they've worked out some safety guidlines within the company for dismantling the phones(i.e. removing batteries and such) before shipping them... and I would guess the arrangement probably included FedEx and/or UPS or some other larger 3PL.

d4nr0556 karma

I have a couple of questions for you.

Im very interested in what your title sounds like, what country do you do this kind of work in? Is it easy to get into? Do you get any "Danger pay" or are the rates different per item you handle?

Whats the coolest "I really dont know if I should touch this" thing you've ever forwarded.

Rap3DBac0N17 karma

I live in the US(and work here, obviously). It's not difficult to get into this line of work, really. Most companies that I know of do require a bit of education, i.e. high school and college graduate.

As far as "danger pay" is concerned, no, we do not get hazard pay. But it's something that I may ask about! Haha

Whats the coolest "I really dont know if I should touch this" thing you've ever forwarded.

There was one time during the holidays, we had a shipment flying here in the states; it was an exempt human specimen shipment. Someone working at the airport (I'm assuming a baggage handler) got the bright idea that this cooler with "Exempt Human Specimen", and other brightly labeled labels, was a turkey or something and decided to open it. When he/she found out that it was in fact NOT what they were hoping, they left the opened cooler out in the elements. I'll say this much; the airport where this happened was in a very warm part of the country... I probably don't have to explain the smell of raw meat in the heat. Needless to say, it was found and all hell broke loose.

There was another time when a carrier mislabeled/cross-labeled some freight and ended up sending a dead body to a pet shop(I think, I'm trying to find the news article), instead of the fish that the pet store were intending on getting.

roojers_nola1 karma

Damn it, I was eating when I read this.

Rap3DBac0N1 karma

Meh, sorry. I hope it tasted like rotten head... :)

jong1236 karma

What's the most expensive thing you've ever arranged to be shipped?

Have you ever shipped anything for someone famous?

Have any of your shipments ever been hijacked by pirates?

Rap3DBac0N5 karma

What's the most expensive thing you've ever arranged to be shipped?

A long time ago when the Maybachs first came out, some rich Arab guy bought one and had it shipped via container freight to the US for his company's shindig in NYC. We literally helicopter'd it from the port to downtown NYC. It actually made the news.

Have you ever shipped anything for someone famous?


Have any of your shipments ever been hijacked by pirates?

Not that I'm aware... but how fucking cool would that be? I wouldn't even be mad, bro. #PiratesLifeForMe

Probably_Is_Lying5 karma

What is the most dangerous thing you've hauled?

Rap3DBac0N18 karma

I would have to say the radioactive material that came out of a nuclear power facility. Most definitely...

We had to use a specialized trailer that was insulated and heated. The drivers couldn't be near the truck when it was loaded, the trailer was tripled sealed and locked with three different locks (each with a different key, and by a different person. The keys were then flown to the destination separately to three different people.). The drivers were never to leave the truck unattended, one driver had to constantly be in the truck. There was also two "chaperone" vehicles that didn't leave the truck.

So basically a logistical nightmare; but it was interesting to say the least.

UnholyVoid5 karma

For being haz/radioactive/human specimen certified were these all specialties of the forwarder you work at, or are these skills specific to you within your company? If just you, how did you get into these specialist roles?

Rap3DBac0N2 karma

These are all specialties of the forwarder I work for; most every employee that could come in contact with these shipments will have, in some way, been trained.

kwinbot4 karma

Have you ever worked with boron triflouride? I'm actually a logistics coordinator myself but have little experience with hazmat, and would love some advice!

Rap3DBac0N6 karma

UN1008 Boron trifluoride, 2.3 UN-No.(DOT) : UN1008 Proper Shipping Name (DOT) : Boron trifluoride Transport hazard class(es) (DOT) : 2.3 - Class 2.3 - Poisonous gas 49 CFR 173.115

I'm not really sure what you do, that you're in contact with Boron Triflouride; I'm guessing you work for a company like Praxair?

That shit is dangerous as fuck, from what I understand. I've personally never had to deal with that particular material; so I'm afraid I couldn't offer much advice. I would think that any company that has to deal with that kind of regulated material, would know everything they need to know about proper transportation; and probably already have a designated constant carrier(s) to handle it for them. Companies like Praxair have their own trucks/drivers, so I'm sure they take care of most of that themselves.

Lenitas3 karma

What kind(s) of certification(s) do you have? How did you get them? Did you have to write any exams?

Is there any cool pieces of equipment you work wirh that we may not know?

Rap3DBac0N2 karma

There are many different state and federal hazmat courses a company could have their employees go through; generally companies will hire out to a certified hazardous materials compliance training company, who will come in and provide training to that companies employees.

Usually it's a 2-4 day training class, again, depending on the company that is training(and the size of the class(es).

As far as "cool pieces of equipment" go; not really. Most freight forwarders don't come in to direct contact with the actual freight. Forwarders usually will broker out the freight and outsource the labor, in order to move it from point A to point B.

Newbicyclerbadknees3 karma

Nice to see logistics getting love on Reddit. Was wondering, do you handle mostly FCL projects or do you also handle LCL?

Mostly import or export?

Rap3DBac0N6 karma

Thanks! I think our industry gets overlooked sometimes.

Actually we do a lot of both, FCL and LCL. Hard for me to gauge if we do more import or exports, as I don't work in our international department. I am primarily almost exclusively domestic logistics.

big_duo36742 karma

Do you ever handle shipments of Class 1?

Rap3DBac0N1 karma

Very rarely.

Redd4302 karma

What was the worst containment failure that either you were involved in or witnessed?

Rap3DBac0N1 karma

Actually, in all my tenure of working for my company, there hasn't been any severe/disastrous containment failures that come to mind... I'll think about this and if I conjure up something from memory, I'll get back with you.

imonfirex7272 karma

Hey, I could be one of your customers! I book haz chemical shipments with NVOCCs to go all over the world, and the biggest thorn in my side is always...... SHANGHAI. At least now that regulations in China have been increasingly enforced since the Tianjin explosion.

So, my question would be - how familiar are you with what's going on over there? I get quotes from different forwarders, both I think going through the same carrier, one tells me they can't take my haz, the other says it's fine (same vessel schedules and everything). Could that be an end-warehouse issue, where the one rejecting it just doesn't have proper certs/approval from their regulatory agencies to store hazardous materials?

I've been at this about 3 years now, and the NVOCC / forwarder / carrier thing is still confusing. Is there anywhere I can get a little clarity on that as well?

Edit: Ah, just saw that you work domestic instead of international. Any insight would be nice if it's available! :)

Rap3DBac0N2 karma

I would think that it would be an end warehouse issue, or even a state-side issue, where the carrier doesn't have the proper certification(s) to handle your materials in that particular capacity.

I would suggest finding a reputable hazardous materials compliance company and talking with them. Most, and I mean 99%, of those companies will be more than willing to answer any questions you may have... they're generally very nice and very helpful, because they take their jobs very seriously and would like to make sure people are as informed as possible (so accidents don't happen).

But you're correct, I work primarily in our domestic freight department, so my knowledge regarding international freight is very limited.

DGeridoo1 karma

We routinely ship out hazardous goods (research chemicals, corrosive, toxic, etc) to our customers with the help of a third party certified specialist for packing/handling/documentation. They do a great job but sometimes it's expensive for us so I've taken it upon myself to get certified. So far, I'm in the middle of a general introduction course to the IATA DGR.

  • What kinds of certification should I be getting?
  • What kind of career options do further certification and testing open up for me if I go deeper into this?
  • What kind of pay do you see in this line of work?
  • Do you specialize in specific types of hazardous goods and only deal with that type of stuff or must you be a jack of all trades and know everything?
  • Where do I get the IATA DGR manual without paying $200+?


Rap3DBac0N1 karma

Ah, thanks for the questions!

What kinds of certifications should I be getting?

Sounds to me like basic IATA DGR training will be sufficient for you.

What kind of career options do further certification and testing open up for me if I go deeper into this?

Honestly, I'm not completely sure. I've never really looked into other career options. I'll look into this and message you later.

What kind of pay do you see in this line of work?

What kind of pay do I see personally? It's good enough that I have a comfortable life. :) If you're asking what I see others making in the field, I'm not quite sure... I can say with certainty that DG trainers/company owners (like private small DG compliance companies) make great money.

Do you specialize in specific types of hazardous goods and only deal with that type of stuff or must you be a jack of all trades and know everything?

Where I'm at in our company, I only deal with certain hazard goods. Although I am trained and certified in multiple areas, my current position rarely requires me to deal with certain types of hazmat.

Where do I get the IATA DGR manual without paying $200+?

If you find out, would you let me know? Haha You'll be hard pressed to find a IATA manual (no older than 3 years) for less than $250-300.00. I think the new 2017 manuals are going to be around $387.50, IIRC.

JX3D971 karma

if Tianjin happened in say, los angeles or new york ports, how would it be handled?

Rap3DBac0N1 karma

I would assume pretty much the same way. I'm sure our government(the US) would come up with some deranged way to "prevent a disaster like this" from happening again by creating some government organization to monitor ports, and waste taxpayers money. Kind of like the TSA.... I kid, I love the TSA. Sort of. Not really.

Deus_Viator1 karma

Have you noticed any issues with overclassification of hazardous materials?

I work for a chemical plant and some of our stuff gets send out as class 8 and we've had more than a few times where drivers will initially try to refuse it as soon as they see the corrosive label until they check with their haulier. In reality the end product is not corrosive whatsoever but because it has low levels of acetic then it has to be classed as such for transport. We're going to have another one too that is getting reclassified to Class 6.1 as toxic through inhalation despite it actually being unfeasible to vaporise the product in any way.

Rap3DBac0N1 karma

Any good truck driver who is hazmat certified will not have a problem, unless he understands and knows that there may be an issue with the freight he is loading. Rule of thumb(especially with hazmat freight); always ask questions, even if there is just a little doubt as to what something may be.

Over-classification of materials is usually a safety protocol from the carrier. If you dig into IATA regulations and airline regulations, you'll notice that even the standard IATA regulations(which are used worldwide) are surpasses by many airlines in that they want further regulation when it comes to what do/don't allow on their equipment.

pyramidsofmoney1 karma

Seeing any issues with the whole Hanjin debacle?

Rap3DBac0N1 karma

Not personally, as I work in domestic freight pretty exclusively. However I'm sure our guys in our international department are seeing some backlash from it... Honestly, I haven't heard much. I've got my own shit to worry about, haha.