DOT Regs

As a shipper of hazardous materials you may be unaware of your responsibility under 49 CFR 172.506 to provide placards to the driver of the motor vehicle for your shipment prior to its departure from your property.   Many Shippers rely on the driver of the vehicle (ie. the carrie) to provide the placards.  In addition, they don’t maintain a supply of the necessary placards and would be unable to provide them if the driver requested them.  A close reading 49 CFR part 172.506 of  is in order.

First, let’s be clear that it is your responsibility as a Shipper to provide to the driver the required placards for the material being offered for shipment. There is no specified time when placards must be provided (ie. when a placard threshold is met), but they must be provided before the shipment leaves your property and enters a public roadway.  Again, if you offer hazardous materials for shipment by motor vehicle; then it is your responsibility to provide the required placards.

Therefore, you must be certain of the regulations pertaining to placard thresholds.  The full regulations can be found at 49 CFR 172, Subpart F.  However, the DOT Chart 14 provided by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) within the US Department of Transportation will answer most of your questions.  For most hazardous materials in non-bulk packaging (<119 gallons), the placarding threshold is ≥1,001 pounds.  Research carefully though, because the threshold amounts may be a lot less for some hazardous materials and for bulk containers.

What if I offer the required placards for my shipment, but the driver declines the offer as he/she already has them?  In that case – and only that case – you are off the hook and are not required to provide the placards.  However, I suggest you make the offer for every hazardous material shipment, including hazardous waste.  Don’t assume (as many do) that the driver has the required placards for your shipment.  Speaking of hazardous waste, the US EPA regulations at 40 CFR 262.33 require a generator of hazardous waste to either placard the vehicle or offer placards to the initial transporter for their off-site shipments of hazardous waste.

A question that has come up at a few of my recent training events is this:  What if I offer for shipment a hazardous material below the placard threshold – say, 500 pounds of a Class 3 flammable liquid (placard threshold ≥1,001 pounds) – but the driver already has 600 pounds of Class 3 flammable liquid on-board?  My hazardous materials are below the threshold, but combined with the existing load is now an amount requiring placards.  Must I provide the driver the required placards for this combined load?  The answer is no.  A close reading of 49 CFR 172.506(a)reveals that you need only provide the required placards for the material you are offering for shipment, not for the aggregate weight of all hazardous materials on the vehicle.  Refer to 49 CFR 172.506(a)(1) which requires the driverto affix the required placards to the motor vehicle.  In other words, you’re only on the hook to provide the required placards for what you offer for shipment.  You may wish to provide placards to the driver even if it is not your responsibility however.  Being right would be small solace if your shipment is refused due to a lack of the proper placards.

I suggest you make it part of your routine HazMat shipment procedure to ask the driver if he/she has the required placards and to provide them if necessary.  Also, perform an inspection of the vehicle to ensure the required placards are in good condition, secure, and visible on all four sides of the vehicle before you sign the shipping paper or Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest.

Most businesses today know when they are shipping a hazardous material. Some do not. It is your responsibility to know the law. Did you know these items are considered a hazardous material?

  • Air Freshener
  • Bleach
  • Disinfectants
  • Drain Cleaner
  • Floor Cleaner Wax
  • Inks
  • Batteries
  • Furniture Polish
  • Oven Cleaner
  • Paint
  • Paint thinner
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  • Motor Oil/Gasoline
  • Insect Spray
  • Garden Fertilizer
  • Fireworks

As a shipper you must maker sure all employees involved with any part of the shipping or receiving of hazardous materials be training according to 49 CFR part 173.1.

PHSMA or Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (part of DOT), has materials you can obtain for free that outline what training you are required to do, how often and what the training must include. One brochure is called Does Your Hazmat Training Measure Up? Part of the brochure includes a Frequently Asked Question section that is very good.

Training is one of the main fined areas of PHSMA. Most companies either don’t complete the training or don’t do it correctly. Fines can range from $25,000 and up.

If you don’t know if you are shipping or receiving hazardous materials you need to find out. Then you need to make sure all the employees involved are trained. Proper training is good for 3 years for ground shipping and 2 years for both air and ocean shipping.

Remember ignorance of law is not an excuse and will still get your fined.

If your company ships any type of hazardous materials in commerce you will need to be advised of the new final ruling by the US DOT.  As stated below if will make it mandatory that hazardous shipments are properly packaged and labeled under 49 CFR, parts 100-185.   Failure to follow these regulations, can result in significant delay in the shipment of your package.

Federal hazardous materials transport inspectors will be allowed to open, detain, remove, and divert suspicious packages in transit for further investigation, under a final rule published March 2 by the Department of Transportation (76 Fed. Reg. 11,570).

The rule is aimed at reducing the number of shipments of undeclared hazardous materials and the number of shipments that do not meet hazardous materials regulations.

In a Federal Register notice, DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration specified procedures under which inspectors will gain access to open and examine a package offered for or in transportation if they have “reason to believe” that the package contained hazardous material.

The inspectors also are authorized to detain a shipment for up to 48 hours if they believe the package might pose an imminent hazard and to have that package diverted to a facility for further analysis. If that package is found to pose an imminent hazard, then the inspector has the authority under the rule to render that shipment “out of service.”

The rule, which takes effect May 2, was proposed Oct. 2 and applies to all modes of transportation. It amends 49 C.F.R. Part 109 by allowing DOT inspectors to exercise the expanded authority to inspect, open, and detain packages conferred by the Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety and Security Reauthorization Act of 2005 (Pub. L. No. 109-59) (32 CRR 970, 10/6/08).

Enforcement Authority Expanded.

The need for expanded DOT authority is aimed at not only reducing undeclared shipments of hazardous materials but also curtailing shipments of improperly packaged and labeled hazardous materials.

Undeclared shipments are those that are not marked, labeled, and accompanied by shipping papers or otherwise identified as hazardous materials. PHMSA said such shipments pose a significant threat to transportation workers, emergency responders, and the general public.

According to DOT, each year about 3 billion tons of hazardous materials are transported in the United States without safety incidents, following packaging and labeling protocols spelled out in the hazardous materials regulations. But, PHMSA said, “when a package containing hazardous materials is placed in transportation without regard to hazardous materials regulations, the effectiveness of all risk controls is compromised.”

The final rule would allow inspectors to open outer packagings, freight containers, or other packaging components not immediately adjacent to the hazardous material. Inspectors would not open single packagings, such as cylinders, portable tanks, cargo tanks, or rail tank cars, and they also would not open the innermost receptacle of a combination packaging.

Detained for 48 Hours.

The rule also outlines procedures inspectors would follow to remove a package or shipment from transportation if they believe the shipment poses an imminent hazard or to allow the package to be transported if no imminent hazard is found. For instance, the rule will allow inspectors to detain packages for up to 48 hours if they can provide a written rationale for why they believe a package might pose an imminent hazard.

Imminent hazards are those that require immediate intervention to reduce the substantial likelihood of death, serious illness, severe personal injury, or a substantial endangerment to health, property, or the environment.

Finally, the rule gives inspectors the ability to order the package to be taken to a facility for examination, where if deemed hazardous the package can be taken out of service until it complies with hazardous materials regulations. It would also allow PHMSA, the FAA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or the Federal Railroad Administration to issue an emergency order if they determine that a noncompliant shipment is causing an imminent hazard. The order could be issued in conjunction with or in place of an out-of-service order.

Currently, DOT must coordinate with the Department of Justice to file a civil action seeking a restraining order or preliminary injunction against a shipper or offeror committing a hazmat safety violation.

The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) applies to five distinct groups of employers and their employees. These include any employees who are exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous substances — including hazardous waste — and who are engaged in one of the following operations:

clean-up operations — required by a governmental body, whether federal, state, local, or other involving hazardous substances — that are conducted at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites;

corrective actions involving clean-up operations at sites covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA) as amended (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.);

voluntary clean-up operations at sites recognized by federal, state, local, or other governmental body as uncontrolled hazardous waste sites;

operations involving hazardous wastes that are conducted at treatment, storage, and disposal facilities regulated by Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 264 and 265 pursuant to RCRA, or by agencies under agreement with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement RCRA regulations; and

emergency response operations for releases of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances regardless of the location of the hazard.

(More information can be found in osha documents as specified by 1910.120 and 1926.65)

OSHA has authorized several specific HAZMAT training courses know has the hazwoper training courses.These courses are comprised of the 40 hour hazwoper, 24 hour hazwoper and the 8 hour hazwoper refresher course.

Many OSHA authorized sites like OSHAu.co offer hazwoper training courses online.These courses can be administered in self-paced, downloadable modules which allow the student to complete the required training at their leisure.Online training also provides employers with the benefit of allowing their employees to take the required training from any internet-based computer eliminating travel costs and while maintaining productivity. The benefits of online training are realized through increased safety and health of employees and an increased protection of our environment and it’s resources.

The Compliance Resource Center has reported that both the domestic hazardous materials transportation regulations and international rules for shipping batteries have undergone significant changes over the past two years.  All batteries, alkaline, lithium, lead, nickel metal hydride, carbon zinc, etc., or battery powered products are subject to 49 CFR 173.21(c) in the U.S. hazardous materials regulations.   Many batteries that were previously unregulated or under-regulated must now be thoroughly evaluated to determine hazard potential. Detailed packaging and communication standards must be followed under. 

Adding complexity to the issue is the fact that shipping requirements vary greatly, depending on the mode of transport and the type of battery.  Battery shipping regulations affect a wide array of industries from manufacturers and part suppliers to freight forwarders and distributors.  Regardless of whether a lithium or lithium ion cell or battery qualifies for the exceptions in the regulations, shippers must still comply with requirements of 49 CFR 173.21(c). That is, the cells and batteries must be securely packaged and offered for transportation in a manner that prevents the dangerous evolution of heat and short circuits.

Both FedEx and UPS will refuse to accept packages not meeting FedEx, Government or IATA requirements.

Unloading a Truck.pngDo you ship or receive any materials considered hazardous by the US DOT (49 CFR 172.101)?  If so, you MUST have a security plan (49 CFR part 172.800) which includes security awareness training to all who load, unload or have some responsibility putting the hazardous materials in commerce.  This might include the person in the office who fills out the shipping papers, or the forklift driver who unloads the truck in your loading bay.  Everyone involved with the process must be trained. 

The DOT has become more active fining companies and organizations for not having a security plan and not doing the training.  Large or small, profit or not-for-profit, it doesn’t matter.  Security awareness training is now considered one of the 5 parts of HAZMAT training.  the 5 parts include: General Awareness, Function-Specific, Safety, Security Awareness, and Security In-Depth (if you need and have a security plan as classified by (49CFR 172.800(b)(1-7). If your hazardous materials fall under this last part, then you must do a full security plan including a assessment and training.  The plan needs to be in writing and available to all who are affected.

The Compliance Resource Center can help you do a security assessment, write a security plan and customize hazmat training specificly for your company.  All of our HAZMAT training is customize for the hazardous materials you ship or receive.  You employees get ALL the training required by the US DOT Pipline and Hazardous Materials Safety Adminsitration.  DOT Hazmat training for ground is required every 3 years and for air and/or ocean every 2 years. 




2008 ERG.pngRecently, Chuck Armstrong, Safety Manager for the City of Chicago, sent me a website to check out.  This short video http://www.hazmatsolutions.net/erg/ explains how to use an Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG).   Click on the quiz at the end of the presentation to test your knowledge.  

This video can also be used a part of a training class if your safety department is involved with hazardous materials.   

Thanks for passing this information to our readers.  If you have anything like this (which is not a commercial) let us know and we will give everyone the information to use.

Emergency Vehicle.pngI recently became aware of a journal (Fire Engineering) that has a variety of articles about fire, hazmat and safety. One the articles that came to my attention was by Steven M. De Lisi.   Mr. De Lisi retired after a fire service career spanning 27 years that included serving as a regional training manager for the Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP) and most recently as the deputy chief for the Virginia Air Guard Fire Rescue.

His article, Hazmat Survival Tips: 10 Common Errors Committed During Incidents  addresses issues First Responders have dealing with a hazardous incident.  Today many companies have HazWoper trained personnel, many who might also find some interesting information within this article.  Hazardous incidents are becoming more common as more and more hazardous materials are being transported throughout the United States.  Companies need to make sure they are in compliance with both the US DOT (49 CFR parts 100-185) and OSHA (29CFR part 120).


Sources have been telling me that both OSHA & DOT’S PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) are actively conducting on-site inspections for violations.  OSHA has released it Site Specific Targeting Plan, while PHMSA is

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration in May announced that it would focus on roughly 3,800 high-hazard work sites for unannounced comprehensive safety inspections in 2008. The visits will be part of OSHA’s 2008 site-specific targeting plan, according to a news release. OSHA has used such plans for more than a decade, honing in on different work sites based on injury and illness data.

“This program emphasizes to employers the importance of our enforcement efforts in ensuring safe working conditions for employees,” said Edwin G. Foulke Jr., assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, in a news release.  The work sites that will be included in this year’s targeting plan are those that have reported 11 or more injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work, restricted work activity, or job transfers for every 100 full-time employees.

OSHA also will randomly select and inspect about 175 workplaces with 100 or more employees that reported low injury and illness rates for the purpose of reviewing how well they actually comply with OSHA requirements, the release said.  

PHMSA has been very active in enforcement of hazmat (49CFR parts 100-185) regulations concerning the shipment of hazardous materials in commerce.  DOT’s current maximum civil penalty is $50,000 per violation.  Considering a shipment may have multiple vioaltions this amount can increase rapidly.  The number 1 fined incident is lack of current training.

So you better be good and you better be nice or OSHA/PHMSA might fine you twice.

Hazmat PlacardsYou know The Compliance Resource Center does not often write about products, but there are times when something comes along which our readers might find interesting and/or useful.  Here is one of those products. 

If you ship hazardous materials you might want to consider the new software program by EZHAZMAT.  This new software walks you through the process of correctly shipping hazardous materials in compliance with 49CFR part 100-185.  The program identifies the correct shipping name, gives the shipper the correct markings on the package, creates a bill of lading and more. 

However, this is NOT a substitute for the training requirement in 49CFR part 172.700 or the security plan part (HM-232).  Training is still required every 3 years for ground shipping and every 2 years for air and ocean shipping.  Also all new employees involved with the loading or unloading of hazardous materials must be trained within 30 days.  

There are other software programs that will help you ship hazardous materials such as UPS’s WorldShip, and others. If you go to the EZHAZMAT site you might also want to take the hazmat quiz and test your knowledge.

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