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What is Required for Shipping Hazardous Materials?
September 30, 2020

Shipping items that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has deemed as Hazardous Materials (hazmat) must be shipped under strict specifications and conditions—but knowing exactly what is required for hazmat shipping can be challenging to follow. This is especially true for businesses that are new to shipping these materials or have new employees who will be responsible for shipping these hazmat materials. Perhaps your company has added new products which are considered hazardous.

With nearly three decades of experience educating clients of all sizes including Federal and State government agencies, universities, corporations and small family owned businesses on how to safely ship hazmat materials in full compliance, we can help your organization navigate the complexities of shipping through a number of training options and courses designed to your specific needs.

While we strongly recommend taking advantage of one of our courses or training seminars, here is some basic information you need to know about hazmat shipping requirements.

What qualifies as hazardous material?

Before we get into what qualifies as hazmat, it is important to know it is the shipper’s responsibility and must certify that any hazardous material or article includes the correct identification, classification, markings, labeling, placarding, packaging, shipping documentation including emergency response information and twenty-four hour telephone number before it is offered to a carrier.

Most shipping personnel are not chemists. So how do they know what it is they are shipping?

Well a good place to start is the product’s Safety Data Sheet. All products used in industry must have a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), This is a mandatory requirement of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and should be the most current copy compliant with the Global Harmonization System( GHS). Most reputable manufacturers will include a current copy of their product’s SDS. There are 16 sections included in a SDS and section 14, although voluntary and not mandatory, will include the basic information required for transportation.

This basic description will include a four-digit ID number, preceded with the letters UN, the proper shipping name, the hazard class, and the packaging group all in that order. This will give you a starting point but there are still many details that are not provided which may include specific exceptions for the various regulatory agencies such as dangerous goods regulations specific to vessel- IMDG Code, air- IATA DGR or Canada’s TDG and the EU’s ADR. A good example, depending on the packaging size, are the Limited Quantity provisions which may provide relief from UN performance packaging, hazard labeling, placarding, 24 hour- emergency response and shipping paper requirements. These can also apply to other modes but with specific differences. This is where proper hazmat training should provide knowledge of these variations that are not included on the SDS’.

What is considered hazmat?

The US DOT’s legal definition is a substance or material that is capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce. When many people think of hazardous materials, they correctly assume that they are included in the nine hazard classes. Items like bleach which is a corrosive, gasoline which is flammable liquids or ammunition which are considered explosives. While each of these materials are included in various descriptions in the DOT’s hazmat table, there are hundreds of proper shipping names and shipper’s must be familiar with using the hazmat table as part of their basic General Awareness training which is a mandatory prerequisite for the hazmat shipper.

Some common items that require more detailed information include:

· Hand sanitizer

· Aerosols

· Dry ice

· Engines

· Lithium batteries

· Perfume and cologne

· Adhesives

It is you and your organization’s responsibility to ensure that all items are identified, classified, packaged, marked, labeled, and placarded correctly. You can find many of the details you need to understand about the various shipping regulations in our robust resources section.

Get specific hazmat compliance training you need to ship

While you can find many of the resources you need on our website, from DOT, OSHA, and other regulatory agencies, nothing compares to taking a client specific training class dealing strictly with your company's products from CARGOpak where you are given clear and effective insights (depending on your needs) on shipping your products. That’s why we alway request a client complete our Needs Assessment Form so we are providing the exact training for your specific needs. The regulations are very clear on what is considered effective training. The bottom line is you don't need to know all the specifics for all the hazardous materials, just the ones that you ship!

With over 30 years of experience in the hazmat transport industry under our belts, we have helped countless organizations get the training they need to safely ship goods domestically and internationally.

While we are proud to normally offer in-person training, COVID-19 has made this challenging. However, you can receive the same exceptional training through one of our hazmat shipping webinars. These webinars give you the comprehensive regulatory compliance assistance you need to ensure a safe, compliant shipment every time.

Want to learn more about how CARGOpak can help you become and remain compliant? Reach out to us today.

learn what is required for hazmat shipping