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Symbols on Packages in Your Courier Loads and What They Mean

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Courier loads can be made up of packages, parcels and papers of all shapes and sizes and sometimes you might be moving literally hundreds in a week. If you’re going to stay in business and provide top quality customer satisfaction, you need to ensure that even if you don’t know what’s exactly in them, you can at least have an idea of how they should be handled.

It’s a universal challenge and, to help, a number of international symbols have been developed. If you deliver courier loads for a living there are a few below you may already know, but it never hurts to have a refresher.

International Packing Symbols

Two people lifting a box: This indicates that the package should be lifted by two people and not just one. It might be tempting to try to be a hero, but the advice is don’t risk it – because it’s definitely marked that way for a reason.

A box on a trolley: This is pretty self-explanatory, but in our business it’s amazing how many breakages or even injuries can happen by someone ignoring advice to use a trolley. The item may be heavy or simply an awkward shape or size, but again, don’t ignore this symbol!

A thermometer or a box with a sun over the top: These are two different ways of saying the same thing: that the descriptions are sensitive to overheating. It may sometimes be accompanied by a suggested range of temperature degrees, and it’s important to consider this symbol both in the warehouse and in the vehicle transporting courier loads.

An umbrella: OK, you’d have to be pretty silly not to understand that this symbol means you need to keep the item dry. But what can sometimes be overlooked is that damage can occur not only from direct rain, but also from damp conditions in storage or in the vehicle itself.

Stacked boxes with a cross through: Some goods were not made for stacking! This symbol on a box means it should not be placed on top or underneath any other package. A variation of this one is a graphic of multiple boxes toppling over.

Flames: A graphic of flames in colour or black and white is the universal symbol for flammable goods inside. Under no circumstances should the box come into contact with any hot surfaces, flames or anywhere there may be a possibility of sparks.

Cracked wine glass: With or without the accompaniment of the word ‘fragile’, a cracked wine glass means fragile items are enclosed within, so you must handle with extra care when delivering and also stacking the courier loads.

Two hands holding a box: The symbol of a pair of hands ‘cupping’ a box means that it should be handled carefully as the descriptions may be easily breakable. In other words – handle with care.

So there you have it – some of these you may see multiple times a day while delivering courier loads and some may be new to you. Always take the time to check over all the items you are delivering to make sure there are no special directions with their handling and you’ll reduce the number of breakages. And no breakages means happy customers!
About author: Desiree Michels

Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier loads in the express freight exchange industry. Numerous transport exchange businesses are networked together on their website, trading jobs and capacity through what is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.

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