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How to Comply with Hazardous Material Regulations

Dixie Somers

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Hazardous material (hazmat) refers to everything from household chemicals to fuel or potentially infectious biological substances like medical waste. All hazardous materials must be handled with extra care to ensure the safety of workers and the public. Special regulations have been put in place by state and federal authorities, particularly the DOT and OSHA. Here are some tips to make compliance easier.

Reference for Regulations

These regulations must be followed by manufacturers, shippers, truckers, distributors, and end-use companies, including all employees of the above. Failure to comply can cost you some heavy fines. In the U.S., instructions for handling hazardous goods are covered by the rules outlined in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Known as 49 CFR, this set of guidelines covers nine different volumes. Those covering transport fall under Parts 100 through 185. All companies and individuals engaged in hazmat shipping are expected to understand these regulations and follow updates as they occur.

Summary of 49 CFR

The information found here covers:

  1. Description of hazardous materials by class, such as explosives, poisons, radioactive substances, corrosives, and so on.

  2. Types of packaging and containers permitted, and testing procedures for containers, as well as the amount of each hazmat substance allowed per container and in total shipment volume.

  3. Documentation, including shipping manifests, proper labels/placards, and MSDS (material safety data sheets).

  4. Safety and training requirements and equipment.

Staying in Compliance

  • Although you’ll have to follow every 49 CFR requirement, here are some important tips to help avoid mistakes:

  • Use the United Nations 4GV labels when shipping variations on common goods such as lithium batteries.

  • Every container shipped must conform to the exact configurations given for each tested container type, including how it’s sealed.

  • Use leak-proof bags and plenty of absorbent cushioning to minimize the chance of spills and damage. These are required for some materials.

  • Make sure there are thorough declarations of everything in each load.

  • Train employees to earn hazmat certifications and keep up training to ensure those certifications stay current.

Check with Insurers

One way to ensure you’re staying compliant is to check with your insurance carrier and follow their guidelines. Hazmat shipments require insurance by law, and your insurance company will do what they can to help you stay compliant. Experts in hazmat insurance requirements will be experts in 49 CFR shipping requirements. Metropolitan Insurance Service Consultants, for instance, will take the steps necessary to see that you, your truck, and your cargo are protected, including regulatory compliance.

Title 49 was created to protect the environment as well as people. Hazardous spills can have severe and long-lasting effects. For these reasons, failure to comply can involve stiff fines.


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