Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor - DGSA

If you transport dangerous goods by air, sea, road, rail or inland waterway, you must pack and transport them according to international regulations. 

The United Nations Model Regulations place the rules for different transportation methods into a classification system. This system assigns each dangerous substance or article a class that defines the type of danger the substance presents. The Packing Group (PG) then further classifies the level of danger according to PG I, PG II or PG III. 

Together, class and PG dictate how you must package, label and carry dangerous goods, including the inner and outer packaging, the suitability of packaging materials, and the marks and label/s they must bear. 

Other regulations define the training and qualifications that dangerous goods drivers and Dangerous Goods Safety Advisors (DGSA) must hold, and when you must use a DGSA. 

You must have a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor (DGSA) if you transport dangerous goods unless:

  • You only carry them occasionally e.g. breakdown recovery vehicles 
  • You are only receiving the dangerous goods i.e. you are the ‘consignee 
  • The goods are in ‘limited quantities’ 
  • You are moving the goods a very short distance by road e.g. between buildings on an industrial estate 
  • You are using a private vehicle 

You should employ a DGSA if you are transporting goods internationally. 

Appointing a DGSA

You may appoint a member of staff who has been trained as a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor or contract a company that specialises in providing dangerous goods safety advice. 

As a result of EC Directive 96/35/EC, undertakings involved in the transport and physical loading of dangerous goods have been required to appoint qualified Dangerous Goods Safety Advisors (DGSA) since 1 January 2000. Employers (including the self-employed) who load or transport dangerous goods beyond the thresholds laid down in the regulations need to appoint a safety advisor to guide them on the legal, safety and environmental aspects of the transport of dangerous goods. 

Chapter of ADR, defines the act.  

"Each undertaking, the activities of which include the carriage, or the related packing, loading, filling or unloading, of dangerous goods by road, shall appoint one or more safety advisors for the carriage of dangerous goods, responsible for helping to prevent the risks inherent in such activities, with regard to persons, property and the environment." 

Duties of the DGSA 

The duties of the DGSA are many but they are appointed primarily to:

  • Advise companies and persons of the ADR Regulations as it applies to their specific operation. 
  • Classify and identify the goods that come under the jurisdiction of ADR. 
  • Effect of the function-specific training required. 
  • Ensure that all persons are knowledgeable in their own function-specific area of work with dangerous goods and certificate those persons. 

The DGSA will retain records of training and is required:

  • To advise on emergency measures for those parts of the operation that require it, notable spill and accident procedures and the Personal Protective Equipment required by personnel in that field. 
  • To advise on the documentation that must accompany dangerous goods in transport, and on the notification of the status of these goods to those who handle or transport them. 

Other duties include:

  • To advise on the labelling requirements of the dangerous goods. 
  • To prepare an annual report to the company on the compliance of the company and suggest improvements if required. This document must be kept for 5 Years and be available to the Competent Authorities. 
  • To investigate and submit a report on any accident or incident that involves injury or spillage with dangerous goods over a certain level to the company. 
  • To verify that all associated parties and subcontractors involved in dangerous goods are legally capable of doing so. 
  • To audit the company at the initial stages of the appointment, and at the end of the year re-audit the company and submit a report to the directors of the company. This report is to be kept on file for 5 years and made available to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) if required. 
  • To report to the Competent Authorities any accident or incident that falls within the requirements of Chapter, which are similar to the RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2103) requirements.

This is not an inclusive list but serves as an indication of the duties of a DGSA. 

The DGSA will be required to pass an examination, after which he/she will receive a certificate valid for 5 years. After 5 years the DGSA must re-sit the examination to renew their certificate. 

As stated elsewhere, ADR is a lengthy and complex subject and requires professionally qualified people to advise on the complexities involved. Please use the links below for further information pertaining to ADR and the role of a DGSA. 

Guidance on DGSA training

See the ‘European agreement concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by road (ADR)’ for more information on DGSA's.