Who needs a dangerous goods safety advisor?

6 Min.

To need or not to need: who actually needs a dangerous goods safety advisor? The dangerous goods safety advisor ordinance (GbV) provides information about who needs a dangerous goods safety advisor – actually. However, it is problematic to understand them. We would like to bring a little light into the darkness and explain individual points in detail.

A little clarification of terms in advance: In the case of dangerous goods safety advisors, one always speaks of them being “appointed” or of an “appointment“. This means nothing other than a written assignment and this appointment can also be made to external service providers.

The dangerous goods safety advisor ordinance (GbV)

Section 1 of the GbV states that the regulation applies to all companies involved in the transport of dangerous goods (i.e. hazardous goods) by road, rail, inland waterways and by sea.

What does the term “promotion” mean here?

Transportation is by no means just transport. Many people and companies are often involved in logistics processes. One example will illustrate this:

Externe Lagerhaltung im Gefahrgutprozess

Company U would like to have dangerous goods transported from supplier L to customer K. The dangerous goods are still stored at the external warehouse keeper E. However, the dangerous goods are still stored at the external warehouse keeper E.

The transport from L to K is now to be organized by the forwarding company S.

Lieferung von Gefahrgut über Frachtführer

The freight forwarder itself only organizes the transport. It has commissioned a transport company – a carrier F – to carry out the transport. At the external storage company E, the goods are also packed and loaded onto the truck. This work could also be carried out by other external (sub)companies.


Gefahrgutbeförderung als Prozess

The carrier now transports the dangerous goods with his vehicles to customer K. The customer in turn wants to have the goods stored at another external warehouse keeper (LH). It is then unloaded there.

All of the above companies (U, K, L, E, F, LH) are involved in transportation and thus would also each require a dangerous goods safety advisor.

No rule without exception – Regulations on exceptions

Not all companies that handle dangerous goods are required to have a dangerous goods safety advisor.

§ Section 2 of the GbV defines exactly who does not need a dangerous goods safety advisor – this leaves those who do.

In paragraph 1 – sentence 1 of § 2, some of these companies are already mentioned. O-tone:

  1. [Persons] “who are assigned duties solely as a vehicle driver, shipmaster, consignee, voyager, manufacturer, and reconditioner of packaging and as a body for inspections and testing of intermediate bulk containers (IBCs).”

1. Self-employed drivers (natural persons)

This paragraph means that the purely self-employed drivers do not need their own dangerous goods safety advisor, even if they should transport dangerous goods. To avoid misunderstandings immediately: these are not drivers who transport goods with their own vehicles. Then they would be carriers according to 437 HGB, since they also carry out the transport. Only drivers means: they are drivers who do not have vehicles, which in case of need can be used by one or the other carrier as a “free” driver substitute. The company that owns the vehicles and transports or wants to transport dangerous goods may need a dangerous goods safety advisor, the driver needs according to ADR (the international regulations for the transport of dangerous goods) an instruction or a so-called ADR certificate.

2. Receiver

Another term that must be considered in more detail is that of the recipient. In the above example, customer K is the consignee. However, no employee will unload the goods, this is done by the external warehouse keeper. Since customer K never comes into direct “contact” with the goods, he does not need a dangerous goods safety advisor. The unloader, i.e. the company that actually unloads or receives the goods from the truck, on the other hand, requires a dangerous goods safety advisor.

3. The 50 Tons Rule

Paragraph 1 of § 2 mentions other companies to which the Regulation does not apply either, i.e. another exception: companies

  1. “to whom exclusive duties as principal of the consignor are assigned and who are engaged in the carriage of dangerous goods not exceeding 50 tons net per calendar year, except radioactive material of Class 7 and dangerous goods of transport category 0 in accordance with ADR”

This therefore refers to all companies that do not undertake any other activities in the transport of dangerous goods other than commissioning them.

Here, the term consignor’s client must be described. In the example described, this is company U. This company does not pack dangerous goods, does not load vehicles with them and does not hand over dangerous goods for loading. This is done for it by other companies. Likewise, it only gives the order to the freight forwarder to organize the transport. It is thus merely the consignor’s client. And only here – with this particular company – does the “50 ton rule” apply.

However, anyone who packs, loads or even transports the goods, or has them transported as a freight forwarder, does NOT qualify for the exemption provided by this 50-ton rule. The same applies to companies that want to transport radioactive material or other highly dangerous goods. A dangerous goods safety advisor is required here.

Companies that only unload goods have a similar exemption rule. Here, § 2 (2) 3rd sentence applies. Companies that do not unload more than 50 tons net do not need a dangerous goods officer.

The 50-tonne exemption rule also applies to companies that, according to sentence 7, only transport dangerous goods for their own use in the performance of operational tasks (exception here also: radioactive substances). Operational tasks include, for example, cleaning agents, but only as long as they are also consumed and not sold. A sale is not an operational task. Other examples are the transport of hazardous lubricants to a construction site where machines are being repaired or maintained. The same applies to the transport of gas cylinders for necessary welding work.

This does not include any waste transports, as they do not fall under operational tasks.

4. Exception: Craftsman

Another exception applies to companies that are largely exempt from the obligations in the ADR. These include in particular private individuals and craftsmen (as long as they do not get above the 1,000 points!).

5. The 1,000-point rule

In the ADR, each dangerous goods is assigned a certain number of points per kilogram or per liter. This is multiplied by the net transport quantity. If several dangerous goods are on one truck, the points of the respective dangerous goods are added together. If 1,000 points are not permanently exceeded (i.e. 1,001 points or more), the dangerous goods assignment can also be waived here.

But: It remains important to mention, however, that all persons in the company who are involved in the dangerous goods process must be trained or instructed regularly (e.g. annually).

6. Exempted Quantities and Limited Quantities

Companies that only transport the quantities according to chapters 3.4 and 3.5 ADR (very small or small quantities) also do not need a dangerous goods safety advisor. The quantity of each substance is specified in the ADR.

Attention: Here, too, reference must be made to regular instruction.

Still not sure if you need a dangerous goods safety advisor?

We have brought all the regulations and exceptions together in one test. Follow the link, so you can answer your question “Do I need a dangerous goods safety advisor? (German)” with the test.

What remains to be considered even if no dangerous goods safety advisor has to be appointed?

The non-appointment of a dangerous goods safety advisor does not release from the fact that ADR or other dangerous goods regulations must be observed. In this case, however, the entrepreneur is always personally responsible. An obligation to instruct according to e.g. 1.3 ADR exists independently of the obligation to appoint. This instruction should be carried out by a dangerous goods safety advisor.

Further assistance

If there are any uncertainties regarding the appointment, the relevant supervisory authority can also be consulted. It decides whether a dangerous goods safety advisor is necessary. In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, the supervisory authority is assigned to the respective district governments, while in Bavaria it is the trade supervisory offices at the governments.


  1. Everyone involved in the “carriage of dangerous goods” needs a dangerous goods safety advisor (with a few exceptions).
  2. “Carriage” in this context is not just synonymous with “transport”. Commissioning, packing, loading, actually transporting, unloading and receiving are also part of the overall dangerous goods process.
  3. There are individual, clearly defined exceptions, such as the craftsman regulation.
  4. Even if you do not appoint a dangerous goods safety advisor, you must comply with the regulations of the ADR, or other applicable rules. In this case, the entrepreneur is always personally responsible.
  5. If you are unsure whether a dangerous goods safety advisor must be appointed, you can always ask the competent authority. Who is responsible varies depending on the federal state.

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Markus Höhfeld

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