A Complete Guide to Shipping Hazardous Material

shipping hazardous material

Shipping hazardous materials isn’t the most exciting job in the world, but someone has to do it.

Shipping hazardous material is unlike shipping your usual pots and pans. Because these materials are highly toxic or a risk to the environment, the government regulates their transportation strictly.

Typically there are a couple of restrictions to what hazardous stuff you could ship. Plus, what you might not consider hazardous might actually be as per the government’s classification. Also, there are hefty penalties for not complying with the hazardous material shipping regulations.

This piece will be an in-depth guide on how to ship and transport hazardous materials or hazmat so that you’re safe the next time you’re shipping these kinds of materials. Also, you won’t be on the wrong side of the law for your shipments.

How Do You Define Hazardous Material?

What the government defines as hazardous may not match the dictionary’s definition of hazardous. As such, before you know how to ship these hazardous materials, it is important to know what exactly qualifies as a hazardous material.

There are a couple of items that you may consider as ordinary items but are actually hazardous. These items include lithium-ion batteries, sunblock, and even some moisturizers, to name a few.

Even anything encasing hazardous material in airtight packaging like perfume cans still gets the hazardous classification.

Now some items are hazardous as per your regular day to day definition and still get the hazardous tag during shipping.  These materials include any radioactive materials, liquid nitrogen, cultured bacteria that are infectious, and compressed gases.

The Lowdown on Shipping Hazmat

The government mandates the Department of Transportation (DOT) to handle all shipping in the country. These hazardous material regulations have been subject to a lot of changes, especially in the last ten years.

DOT creates these regulations to safeguard the safety of the crew and to facilitate safe international trade.

How to Comply With hazardous Shipping Regulations

If you’re looking to ship some hazardous stuff, then you should be fully compliant with the regulations that DOT stipulates. Failure to do so can put you on the receiving end of a hefty fine.

To be compliant with all the regulations, you have to have the following in check:-

Employee training– All staff involved in the shipping must be well acquainted with the 49 CFR. So yes, you’ll have to use your own time and resources to train your staff. It seems like a lot to do, but it will all be worth it.

The 49 CFR– This stands for Code of Federal Regulations Title 49. It is this manuscript that contains all regulations concerning shipping, packaging.  Also, how to handle and prepare hazardous materials.

The Illustrations of 49 CFR– By now, you’ll have realized all these compliance measures revolve one article, the 49 CFR. Please take heed of all the regulatory illustrations in the article.

If you have this on lock, then you can comfortably say you are fully compliant. However, you’re not yet in the clear. There are still a couple of things you need to check on.

The extra stuff is because 49 CFR wasn’t as comprehensive as it should have been. To that effect, the Hazardous Material Transport Safety Act (HMTUSA) came into being. It was created by congress to plug all the loopholes in the previous act at lower government levels.

The act basically engenders safe transport at the interstate level and in international trade. It also addresses the type of containers that are suitable for handling hazardous materials.

These containers aren’t anything special. They include gas cylinders, drums, jerricans, and the like. Some materials out of this cadre may instead be better suited for special shipping.

Training to Ship Hazardous Materials

Training for hazardous material handling boils down into five main facets. Your staff must be fully conversant with all five training types to be hazardous material shipping compliant.

Here are the five basic training types for hazardous material:-

Safety training– This is arguably the most important training of the lot. It includes protection measures to undertake and proper use of safety equipment. Trainees also learn of the emergency procedures in case of any incidents.

Awareness training– It trains employees on how to keep an eye out for dangerous situations. This training is a basic overview of hazardous material regulations. It also gives employees the ability to identify  hazardous materials

Security awareness– This training isn’t the same as awareness training. Here employees are taught to recognize safety risks that transporting hazardous material can create.

Detailed Security Awareness Training– This will delve deeper into the details of protocols and procedures employees should take to mitigate safety risks.

Function-Specific-Training– This training focuses on specific roles each employee should play during the transportation of hazardous materials.

Typical Shipping Regulation Symbols

Some formal symbols help the crew understand the type of hazardous substance they are handling. These symbols are universal and should be on the packaging or the label of the package.

“+”- This sign means the packaged chemical must retain the same packing class and name.

“D”- Denotes only domestic shipment of the particular hazardous material.

W” -Symbol stipulates that the material should move through water transport. With the exception, if it’s a hazardous waste

“G”- This indicates that the shipping name on the package is generic. It mostly has its technical name beside it in brackets.

“A”- This symbol means that the item in question should move through air transport.

Compliance With Regulations Is Mandatory When Shipping Hazardous Material

These regulations are compulsory when shipping hazardous materials. Failure to comply could lead to very heavy penalties or even revocation of your shipping licenses. Also, you may be putting the shipping crew at risk if you don’t.

Now, if you’re looking for a freighter for hazardous materials, you need one with proper licensing. You could be putting your entire haul at risk if you don’t find licensed shipping companies.

If you need safe handling and shipping of hazardous material, you can contact us for professional and expedient service.