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Regulatory Areas

Hazmat Transportation

Compliance Considerations

​WHAT ARE HAZARDOUS MATERIALS?

Hazardous materials are materials with the potential for health, safety, or environmental hazards during transportation in commerce.  A wide variety of consumer products and other chemicals that are routinely distributed and sold by retailers may be hazardous materials, including:

  • Fireworks, flares, toy rockets
  • Aerosols
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Nail polish remover
  • Perfumes
  • Lighter fluid
  • Oil-based Paint, paint thinner
  • Batteries
  • Ammunition
  • Pool chemicals
  • Garden care products
  • Cleaning products

WHO DO HAZARDOUS MATERIALS RULES APPLY TO?

Hazardous Materials rules apply to anyone who offers hazardous materials to a carrier for transportation or anyone who transports hazardous materials in commerce. 

Retailers who send hazardous materials from distribution centers to stores, who ship hazardous materials directly to customers, or who send hazardous materials in reverse logistics are hazardous materials shippers.  In addition, retailers who send hazardous materials using their own transportation fleet are also hazardous materials carriers. 


WHICH RULES APPLY TO HAZARDOUS MATERIALS TRANSPORTATION? 

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) within the U.S. Department of Transportation has established rules for how hazardous materials must be transported by road, rail, air and water.  These rules are commonly known as the Hazardous Materials Regulations or the HMR. 

Common carriers, such as overnight delivery services or the U.S. Postal Service, impose additional restrictions on hazardous materials.  For example, some overnight carriers require compliance with international air regulations, such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations.  It is important to check with your carrier to make sure you are complying with their requirements for shipping hazardous materials.     

Imports from overseas are generally subject to international rules, such as the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations, if imported by air, or the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code, if imported by sea. 

The federal PHMSA regulations generally preempt state regulation of hazardous materials transportation, although states may in some cases impose additional requirements as long as they are not inconsistent with federal requirements.  For example, some states require licenses for transporting hazardous materials, in addition to federal requirements.

Requirements for transporting hazardous materials vary based on the type of hazardous material, the quantity being transported, the manner of packaging, the mode of transportation (e.g., air or ground), and the transport route (e.g., domestic or international).

HOW DO I RECOGNIZE HAZARDOUS MATERIALS?

Hazardous materials are materials listed in an HMR table in 49 C.F.R. 172.101 and any other material that meets the criteria set forth in 49 CFR Part 173 for one or more of the following hazard classes.  Hazardous materials also include hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, and marine pollutants, as specified in the HMR.

Class 1
​Explosives
Class 1.png

Class 2
​Gases (Flammable or Non-Flammable)
Class 2.PNG
​Class 3
​Flammable Liquids
Class 3.PNG
​Class 4
​Flammable Solids
Class 4.PNG
​Class 5
​Oxidizers & Peroxides
Class 5.PNG
​Class 6 
​Toxic (Poisonous or Infectious)
Class 6.PNG
​Class 7
​Radioactive
Class 7.PNG
​Class 8
​Corrosives
Class 8.PNG
​Class 9
​Miscellaneous

Class 9 (both labels).PNG

 

 

Information about a  product's hazardous materials classification may be in the Safety Data Sheet or may be obtained from the manufacturer. 

Some wastes are classified as hazardous materials, including:

  • Hazardous wastes requiring a hazardous waste manifest under federal RCRA rules
  • Infectious medical waste
  • Any other waste that meets the HMR criteria for a hazardous material

WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES?

Anyone who offers hazardous materials to a carrier or anyone who transports hazardous materials in commerce must comply with detailed requirements for the specific hazardous material and the mode of transportation, including: 

  • Classification of hazardous materials
  • Employee training
  • Detailed shipping requirements for
    • Identifying a proper shipping name
    • Packaging
    • Labeling, marking & placarding
    • Shipping papers & emergency response information
    • Security plans
    • Loading/unloading
  • Recordkeeping
  • Registration
  • Incident Reporting
  • Oversight of logistics contractors

ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS? 

Numerous exceptions may be available, depending on the type of material, quantity, packaging, and mode of transport.  Exceptions typically provide only limited relief or impose different requirements.  Some potentially relevant exceptions for retailers include:

  • Hazardous Materials in Limited Quantities or Consumer Commodities. Many types of consumer products are eligible for these exceptions.  These are hazardous materials of low or medium danger (as identified in the HMR) in small primary containers and packaged for transport in strong outer packaging not exceeding certain maximum weight.  Weight limits and strong outer packaging can be waived for consumer commodities under certain circumstances.  Limited Quantities or Consumer Commodities must comply with reduced requirements, but in many cases are excepted from shipping papers and hazard labeling. Packages must bear the mark for Limited Quantity or ORM-D (available for U.S. ground transportation for consumer commodities until 2021). 
Limited Quantity Mark (Ground).PNG
Limited Quantity Mark (Air).PNG





ORM-D.PNG
Limited Quantity Mark for Ground TransportLimited Quantity Mark for Air Transport

Consumer Commodity

ORM-D Mark for U.S. Ground Transport Available Until 2021

  • Materials of Trade. Hazardous materials transported by retailers may be eligible in some cases (e.g., when the retailer is offering appliance repair or other in-home services) for the materials of trade exception.  These are hazardous materials, other than hazardous wastes, that are transported by motor vehicle for one of three purposes:  (1) protecting health and safety of the motor vehicle operator or passengers; (2) supporting the operation of a motor vehicle or its auxiliary equipment; or (3) by a private motor carriers in direct support of a principle business function other than transportation.  Only certain types of hazardous materials are eligible for this exception, and weight limits, marking, and driver notification requirements apply.
  • Additional Quantity Exemptions Reduced requirements are also available when certain types of hazardous materials are transported in very small amounts.
      • Small Quantities (~ 1 ounce in inner receptacle/article)
      • Excepted Quantities (~ 1 ounce in inner packaging)
      • De Minimis Quantity (~ 1 g or 1 mL in inner receptacle)
Different requirements apply to each of these exceptions.

  • Reverse Logistics. Reduced requirements for employee training are available for transport of Limited Quantities of certain hazardous materials, other than hazardous wastes, in reverse logistics.  To be eligible, the hazardous materials must be transported by motor vehicle from a retail store for return to a manufacturer, supplier, or distribution facility for purposes of recycling, obtaining manufacturer's credit, recall, replacement or similar reasons. 

 

  • Material Specific Exceptions. Some hazardous materials are eligible for reduced requirements based on their characteristics, quantity, or mode of transportation.  Materials for which reduced requirements may apply include combustible liquids, certain types of batteries, and some mercury-containing lamps. 

     
  • Special Permits and Approvals. PHMSA may provide a case-by-case exception in the form of a Special Permit or Approval if it can be shown that an equivalent level of safety can be achieved by following alternative procedures for shipping a particular hazardous material. 

Sustainability and Reducing Compliance Risk

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Last Update: 4/6/2015 12:00:00 AM