This guidance is relevant if you use commercial vehicles to transport dangerous substances, such as solvents, pesticides or fuel, by road. This could also include some household products such as paints or aerosols.

You will need to manage the risk of spillage during transport, which could lead to fire, explosions or environmental damage.

What you must do

If you transport dangerous goods, you must comply with certain legal requirements regulated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

There are different classes of dangerous goods including:

  • corrosive substances
  • explosive substances and articles
  • flammable liquids
  • flammable solids
  • gases
  • oxidizing substances
  • radioactive substances
  • toxic substances.

You have a responsibility to identify the hazards of the goods you intend to transport, and meet requirements for packaging, labelling and documentation.

Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA): Guidance on dangerous goods packaging

There are some exemptions from the requirements for limited quantities or limited loads, for example some retail goods such as those delivered to DIY stores.

For more information about what you have to do to transport dangerous goods, you should contact the HSE or the DfT.

Ensure that your drivers keep their vehicles as secure as possible. You can still be prosecuted even if vandals cause pollution from your vehicles.

If you are transporting waste from domestic, commercial or industrial premises see our guidance for waste businesses.

If you are transporting hazardous/special wastes check what legal requirements apply to you.

Hazardous/special wastes

Good practice

Ensure your drivers are fully trained to understand the hazards of the goods they are transporting and what to do in an emergency.

If you have a pollution incident call the Pollution Hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

Ensure all your goods are transported in a suitable container. Inspect and maintain your containers routinely.

Check container valves or doors to prevent leaks or releases of odour, dust or vapour.

Ensure your containers are labelled correctly and that manufacturers labels are clear and intact.

Make sure that drivers responsible for carrying goods supervise the loading of their vehicles. Before any loading is carried out, the driver should check containers to ensure they are not leaking and that caps and lids are secure.

Secure containers so they can't move around during transportation to prevent damage or spills.

Make sure that your vehicles do not have parts which stick out into the load-carrying area as these could damage containers or packages. The load-carrying area should have impervious surfaces free from pockets or seams. This will make it easier to clean.

Prevent material escaping from open-topped vehicles by netting the load.

When carrying dangerous or polluting materials, avoid taking a route through environmentally sensitive areas where possible.

Nature conservation

Carry pollution control equipment suitable for the type of substance you are transporting. Include absorbent materials and sealing or containment materials, such as sealing putties and drain sealing mats. Also carry a shovel, as earth can be used as an absorbent or to make a barrier to contain a spillage. Absorbent materials used to contain spills may require separate recycling or disposal as hazardous/special waste. Check before you recycle or dispose of them.

You should not store oil for any length of time in tankers. Tankers are not designed for oil storage.

Further information on transporting dangerous goods

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has a number of groups that provide specialist guidance, for example car transporters, milk carriers and livestock transporters.

RHA: Specialist groups

The UK environmental regulators and the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) have produced guidance on controlling pollution from spills on the highway and to minimise the environmental impact.

GPP 22 Incident response – dealing with spills 

FRS: Environmental Protection Manual

The Chemical Industries Association runs the ChemSafe scheme, which provides assistance in the event of a transport incident involving chemicals.

ChemSafe scheme

In this guide