The U.S. Department of Transportation and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) both heavily regulate the shipping of hazardous materials. Their regulations are equally stringent, with the IATA regulating all shipments worldwide.
Hazardous materials can potentially cause serious harm to anyone who comes into contact with shipments that contain them, which is why strict regulations are required for these types of materials to minimize the possibility of unsafe conditions. If shipments fail to adhere to regulations at any time during transportation, the D.O.T. will impose severe penalties in the form of expensive fines and possible jail time.
Here are some ways to classify your shipments as hazardous materials for HAZMAT freight shipping, and prepare them for transportation without violating regulations.
Hazardous Materials Freight Classes
When determining the class of your shipment, there are ways to find out whether your shipment is considered to be hazardous. First, you should consult Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, in which Section 172.101 lists all of the types of hazardous chemicals.
Chemicals not listed in Title 49 are considered non-hazardous unless they are synthesized new materials, which the researcher must be able to characterize as hazardous, assign a hazard class, and provide a Proper Shipping Name. Staff at the D.O.T. headquarters in Washington DC can assist with classification of synthesized materials.
What Are the Provisions for HAZMAT Freight Shipping?
If a shipment contains materials considered to be hazardous, further investigation is required. In some cases, a large shipment may be required to have a “Reportable Quantity,” while smaller shipments may be labeled a “Small Quantity” which allows for certain exceptions. Shippers should also be aware of any “Special Provisions” associated with shipping these materials. Each of these terms has a specific meaning that shippers should fully understand prior to shipping.
Selecting Packing Groups and Packaging for Hazardous Materials
After you have determined that your shipment is hazardous and understand the provisions, you must properly package your materials.
There are three packaging groups with varying criteria:
- Packing Group I indicates a high level of danger associated with the chemical
- Packing Group II indicates a moderate level of danger
- Packing Group III indicates the least amount of danger, but the chemical will still be considered hazardous
General packaging requirements are listed in Section 178 of CFR 49, but shippers can also turn to the IATA packaging instructions, which are simpler to follow. Keep in mind that IATA regulations will be equal to D.O.T. regulations or even stricter. If you’re only shipping hazardous materials by ground, you won’t find any IATA packaging instructions for these shipments, as they cover air transport.
Labeling HAZMAT Freight Shipments
In most cases, packages that contain hazardous materials require proper labeling prior to shipping. The label specifies the type of hazard the material presents.
In this list, you’ll find the following categories:
- 1 – EXPLOSIVES
- 2 – EXPLOSIVES
- 3 – EXPLOSIVES
- 4 – EXPLOSIVES
- 5 – EXPLOSIVES
- 6 – EXPLOSIVES
- 1 – FLAMMABLE GAS
- 2 – NONFLAMMABLE GAS
- 3 – POISON GAS
- 3 – FLAMMABLE LIQUID
- 1 – FLAMMABLE SOLID
- 2 – SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTIBLE
- 3 – DANGEROUS WHEN WET
- 1 – OXIDIZER
- 2 – ORGANIC PEROXIDE
- 1 – POISON INHALATION HAZARD (zone A or B)
- 1 – POISON (other than inhalation hazard)
- 2 – INFECTIOUS SUBSTANCE
- 7 – RADIOACTIVE WHITE-I
- 7 – RADIOACTIVE YELLOW-II
- 7 – RADIOACTIVE YELLOW-III
- 7 – EMPTY (empty packages of radioactives)
- 8 – CORROSIVE
- 9 – CLASS 9
You can find definitions for each of these categories in Section 172.400 of CFR 49.
Labels must come from a printing distributor that has professionally manufactured them based on the D.O.T. specifications for shape, color, and size. In some cases, hazardous materials may have a primary hazard and one or more secondary hazards, which will require more specific labeling. For example, a chemical may primarily be flammable, while also being corrosive and poisonous.
For most types of hazardous material shipments, minimum markings must include:
- The proper shipping name
- The consignee’s name and address
- The consignor’s name and address
- The UN number
In certain instances, shipments may require other markings such as Fragile, Do Not Wet, Do Not Tip, or Biohazard. You’ll find all of the rules in Section 172.300 of CFR 49.
Placards for Trucks
Both the shipper and trucking company are responsible for applying appropriate placards to trucks transporting hazardous materials. The requirements for placarding are discussed in Section 172.500 of CFR 49. To avoid potential issues during transportation, you should try to receive trucking services from a familiar transportation company.
Papers Required for HAZMAT Freight Shipping
In some cases, hazardous material shipments will require two sets of paperwork, including an airbill or waybill, or a Shipper’s Declaration of Hazardous Goods. However, shipments using Fedex and those under other circumstances will have both sets combined. Section 172.20 of CFR 49 provides the preparation instructions for this paperwork.
All paperwork must include a 24-hour emergency phone number in the event of a crisis, which can ensure that you are contacted if there is an accident that results in handling and cleanup of the material.
With the help of this guideline and the specific instructions from the D.O.T. or IATA, you’ll be able to ship hazardous materials without violating any of the strict rules that apply to these shipments.
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