The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has urged Haulage Drivers to abreast themselves with the type of chemicals they transport in a bid to protect themselves and the general public.
Mr Lovelace Sarpong, EPA Deputy Director who gave the advice said often the manufacturers, shippers, and end-users of the various chemicals knew the danger the products could pose if not handled well.
"But the haulage driver who serves as the link between them does not know its possible effects on the environment among others," he said.
Mr Sarpong gave the advice when speaking on the topic: "the risk factors and the precautionary measures to be adopted by Haulage Truck Drivers in the transportation of dangerous goods along the transit corridors" at a day's sensitization workshop organized by the Ghana Shippers' Authority (GSA) in Tema.
He said chemicals formed an integral part of people's lives but if not managed well could lead to a lot of troubles noting that, "it is important that you are trained before transporting chemicals otherwise you are a risk to yourself and others".
He stated that among the strategies to reduce the risk effect of chemicals to the barest was training, understanding of the classification of chemicals, documentation, and use of the appropriate container, emergency responses, and the reporting of accidents.
He added that every product being transported must have the needed placards indicating the chemical classification number, the UN number which is used to identify hazardous chemicals, among others.
Mr Sarpong explained that such numbers help emergency officials who might attend to victims in case of accident to know what chemical they were handling and how to treat persons who might have been exposed to it.
He also urged shippers to use the right containers for the specified and acceptable chemicals saying, "if you put a chemical in the wrong container, you increase the risk of exposure".
The Deputy EPA Director also encouraged Haulage Drivers to report any emergencies or near-miss when transporting chemicals indicating that it was very important to report all near misses to help them improve on responses during such occurrences.
Touching on chemical classifications he said class one is explosives, class two is for gases, class three and class four respectively are flammable/combustible liquids, and flammable solids.
He added that oxidizing substances, organic peroxides belonged to class five saying such substances when exposed to heat would lead to burning.
Class six chemicals include toxic and infectious substances such as poisons, while radioactive materials and corrosive materials belonged to class seven and eight respectively, and class nine takes care of miscellaneous.
Ms Benonita Bismarck, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers' Authority, in a speech read on her behalf stated that dangerous goods such as acids, fertilizers, chemical products, petroleum products among others posed risks to human safety, property, and the environment if accidentally released during transportation.
Ms Bismarck added that it was therefore important that beyond government efforts at regulating the transportation of hazardous cargo, regular sensitization of key stakeholders such as the Haulage Drivers to serve as risk prevention and mitigation measures.