Are there any exemptions from appointing a DGSA?

Yes, there are. It depends on what you do, how often, and in what volume.

If you’re looking at this for the first time, it’s easier to start with the requirement to appoint a DGSA.


ADR ( states, ‘Each undertaking, the activities of which include the consigning or the carriage of dangerous goods by road, or the related packing, loading, filling or unloading shall appoint one or more safety advisers 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.

Now, ADR is characteristically wordy here. However, the requirement is clear: if your operation sends, loads, carries or unloads goods which are classified as dangerous – you’re in – you need a Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser (DGSA).


However, in the next breath (para., ADR states that Contracting Parties (countries) can each decide if the requirement above can be disapplied. In Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the exemptions to have a DGSA apply if:

  1. that carriage operation complies with the conditions specified in 1.1.3 – these are the exemptions from ADR related to the nature of the transport operation. It covers such things as private individuals, civil engineering, preservation of life etc.
  2. a business is involved in the carriage of dangerous goods in quantities per transport unit that are smaller than those referred to in:
    • – known commonly as the ‘small load threshold’
    • – radioactive material exemptions
    • 3.3 – special provisions applicable to certain articles or substances
    • 3.4 – limited quantities (LQ)
    • 3.5 – excepted quantities (EQ)
  3. the main or secondary activities of the undertaking are not the carriage or related loading or unloading of dangerous goods, but the undertaking does occasionally engage in the national carriage or the related loading or unloading of dangerous goods posing little danger or risk of pollution.
  4. that carriage operation complies with the conditions specified in the Road Derogation 11 (RO-bi-UK-1) The crossing of public roads, as set out in the Carriage of Dangerous Goods: Approved Derogations and Transitional Provisions document 2012.

The exemptions do not apply to international carriage.

Consignors only exemption

The rules that applied until 31 December 2018 stated that you didn’t have to appoint a DGSA if you only acted as a consignor of dangerous goods.

This has now changed and businesses that only act as consignors have until 31 December 2022 to appoint a DGSA. DGSA exams are only held four times a year. It makes sense to plan for this change, sooner rather than later. This is not a sales pitch – SQA exam venues do get booked up quickly. Even if you can get your learners on the exams, you may have to send them to another part of the country to take the test.


Scope brings you into the requirement to have a DGSA. The list of exemptions should be carefully considered to see if this could apply to your operation, removing the requirement.

In most cases, the exemptions are clear. The only exception to this is possibly no. 3: ‘main or secondary activities’. You would need decide if you could satisfy the definitions of terms such as, ‘main’, ‘secondary’, ‘occasionally’ and ‘posing little danger or risk of pollution’. In short, it’s quite woolly.

The way exemptions work is that it is for you (your organisation) to decide if they apply. You can take legal advice but ultimately it is your decision. It would be rare (and imprudent) for a government department, agency or officer to tell you what to do. If you ask the question, you will often receive an answer along the lines, ‘interpretation of the law is the prerogative of the courts to decide’.

Even if, as an organisation, you do deem yourselves to be exempt, those employees involved in your activities will still require training that is commensurate with their responsibilities.

As with many areas of dangerous goods, the ‘devil is in the detail’. If you would like to discuss your precise set of circumstances, please get in touch and we would be happy to discuss in more detail.

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