What to Know About Shipping Hazardous Materials Safely

by John Rediehs on February 19, 2016 No comments

Shipping hazardous materials doesn’t have to be a complicated, arduous task. However, it is essential to be informed about all of the rules and regulations set forth by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) so that your shipments are compliant.

If you’re unsure of the rules and regulations, it will be impossible to ensure compliance, so the first step when dealing with hazmat shipments is to learn about the regulations set forth by the U.S. DOT.

What Are U.S. DOT Hazardous Materials Regulations?

There are a variety of things that as a shipper, you are responsible for providing. These requirements include a proper shipping name, an identification number and hazard warning label, specialty packaging, employee training, and more. Identification of a hazardous material are typically considered the first step in shipping hazardous materials, and is often the most difficult part. There are different requirements for shipments sent by international air, international vessel, and shipments to and from Canada.


If you’re a carrier, the hazmat responsibilities include:

  • Shipping paper
  • Placard and mark vehicle
  • Compatibility
  • Incident reporting
  • Loading and unloading
  • Employee training
  • Security plans

Different Classes of Hazardous Materials

Hazmat shipment classification is broken down into several categories based on risk. Hazardous materials refer to all of the following: hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, marine pollutants, elevated temperature materials, and more.

These classes, different from the standard freight classes, are broken down into 10 different categories:

  1. Explosives, including explosives with mass explosion, projection, or fire hazards and more.
  2. Gases (flammable, poison, corrosive, etc).
  3. Flammable liquids. Different classifications are set forth for different flashpoints)
  4. Flammable solids—hazardous solids, spontaneously combustible materials, and materials that are dangerous when wet
  5. Oxidizing substances; organic peroxides
  6. Poisonous (toxic) and infectious substances
  7. Radioactive materials—any material that spontaneously gives off ionizing radiation with a specific activity greater than .002 micocuries per gram.
  8. Corrosives—any material (liquid or solid) that causes visible destruction or irreversible damage to human skin, or a liquid that has a severe corrosion rate on steel and other metals.
  9. Miscellaneous dangerous goods
  10. ORM-D: Other regulated material. This refers to materials that, although otherwise subjected to regulation, present a limited hazard during transportation due to form, quantity, and/or packaging.

Within each class, there are different levels of hazmat classification, so this should be helpful when identifying the product(s) you are shipping.

Hazardous Materials: Shipping Papers?

Shipping papers refer to any documentation of the communication of a shipment’s hazard. These papers should conform to the requirements set forth by the U.S. DOT. Each person who is shipping hazardous materials (including middle-man workers) must describe the hazardous materials on a shipping paper that conforms to requirements. No carriers can transport a hazardous material unless it is accompanied by these shipping papers.


Employee Training Notes for Hazardous Materials

Hazmat shipments require special handling, so it stands to reason that specific employee training must be conducted to ensure workplace safety as well as DOT compliance with the rest of the regulations. A new hazmat employee who changes job functions may perform their job functions prior to completion of training, provided they have completed their total training within 90 days after employment or change in job function.

Hazardous Materials

Employees must participate in the required training every three years, or any time there is a change in their job’s functions.

Common Hazmat Shipment Products

A good starting point if you’re unsure if your product is considered a hazardous material is to familiarize yourself with some common products and items that are considered hazardous.

These can include:

  • Air bags
  • Aircraft and auto parts
  • Batteries
  • Cigarette lighters
  • Cryogenic liquids
  • Dental apparatuses and equipment
  • Electrical and electronic equipment
  • Ice makers and frozen goods including frozen foods
  • Office supplies (may contain aerosols, flammable ink, and other products)
  • Swimming pool/Jacuzzi chemicals and parts
  • Weather equipment

Once you have a better idea of what some of the most common hazmat shipments include, you’ll be able to more easily identify the products you’re shipping.

For help with hazmat shipment regulation compliance and more information about streamlining your shipping processes, contact Red Dog Logistics today.

John RediehsWhat to Know About Shipping Hazardous Materials Safely

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