Dangerous Goods Regulations for Laboratories and Hospitals

The safety of those involved in the transport of infectious materials must be ensured. Such materials are therefore subject to international regulations on the transport of dangerous goods.

UN 3373 classification for infectious substances - DEKRA

Clinical samples

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) classifies samples from suspected cases of COVID-19 as UN 3373 biological agents, category B. For transport, these samples must be packed and labeled in accordance with packing instruction P650. If possible, they should be shipped refrigerated according to the RKI. If dry ice is used, additional provisions for the use of dry ice as a coolant must be observed.

The packaging consists of 3 components: primary, secondary and outer packaging, which is often commercially available in the following versions:

  1. Primary packaging = sample vessel (e.g. swab tube or Monovette)
  2. Secondary packaging = protective vessel (leak-proof plastic tube with screw-on cap, absorbent material inside)
  3. Outer packaging = box-shaped packaging

The package must pass certain stability requirements in the form of a drop test.
Sealed packages shall be marked as "Biological substance, Category B" and "UN 3373" inside a diamond-shaped figure (side length at least 50 x 50 mm). The RKI recommends that the contact number of a person responsible be indicated.
Substances transported in accordance with the above conditions are not subject to any other dangerous goods legislation provisions.

Medical or clinical waste

Medical or clinical waste

This type of waste, containing category B infectious substances, is to be assigned to UN No 3291. Classification is usually determined by a doctor. Packaging and labeling are carried out in accordance with the ADR requirements. This means the use of type-approved packages and the application of a hazard label. Since this transport of dangerous goods is regulated, further requirements, e.g. documentation, labeling of the vehicles and training of those involved, must be observed. Containers are often used for the collection of large quantities of such materials. BK2 containers are identified as standard in the ADR. The German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing has issued a general ruling allowing for transport using the bulk containers common in the waste sector.

In addition to hazardous materials regulations, waste regulations must also be taken into account. The coronavirus (COVID-19) was provisionally assigned to risk group 3 by the Committee for Biological Agents. Waste from health care facilities is therefore classified under waste code 18 01 03* in accordance with LAGA Notice 18 "Implementation assistance for the disposal of waste from health care facilities."

Preventive measures should also be taken to protect the staff of waste disposal companies in the case of suspected cases of COVID-19 in outpatient care and confirmed COVID-19 patients who are slightly ill. Some authorities recommend disposing of waste (e.g. handkerchiefs contaminated with secretions or excrements, mouth-nose protection, hygiene articles; but also empty yogurt containers etc.) together with other non-recyclable waste and not to collect it separately.

Relevant Links

- International: Guidance on regulations for the transport of infectious substances 2019–2020 (WHO)

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