Guide to Shipping Hazardous Materials
There are many pitfalls you can encounter when attempting to ship hazardous materials. The most common mistakes people make is not understanding shipping regulations and best practices. Negligence is not an excuse when it comes to shipping hazardous materials—you will face massive fines, lost production time, and extensive shipping delays. The best way to avoid these shipping problems is to understand what causes them, so you can avoid them at all costs. Below, we will introduce how to safely and legally ship hazardous goods so that you continue to operate smoothly.
Hazardous Materials Shipping RegulationsBecause hazardous materials can be dangerous when handled by unsuspecting mail handlers and laypeople, the government enforces serious regulations when shipping them. These regulations apply to everything from nail polish to heavy-duty chemicals. Depending on where you’re planning to ship your goods, you will have to follow the appropriate hazardous shipping regulations exactly.
49 CFRIf you’re planning to ship your goods only within the United States, you need to familiarize yourself with the guidelines in the 49 CFR volume. It’s part of the Code of Federal Regulations which governs the shipping of hazardous materials to, from, and within the United States. 49 CFR is managed by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, a subset of the Department of Transportation. 49 CFR contains guidelines for everything from packing, shipping, and handling to receiving shipments containing hazardous materials. The guide starts with an introduction to hazardous material classification and an explanation of different hazardous material classes like explosives, flammable materials, and corrosive agents. It then goes on to explain the number of hazardous materials that can be shipped per package and how each material class needs to be packed, prepared, and labeled to be handled safely.
United National Model RegulationsThe UN Model Regulations provide strict guidelines for shipping hazardous materials outside of the United States. There are differentiating factors between the domestic regulations in 49 CFR and the international regulations in the UN Model, so it’s important to understand the differences between the two. These regulations were created and are managed by the Transport of Dangerous Goods Sub-Committee of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. While these regulations do not adhere to every country’s specific hazardous material shipping requirements, they are widely accepted by most countries. Like 49 CFR, the UN Model Regulations focuses on preparing, packaging, labeling, and shipping of all classes of hazardous materials.
Shipping ComplianceBecause there are so many rules and regulations when shipping hazardous materials, it would be impossible for us to cover every aspect of 49 CFR and the UN Model Regulations. That’s why we are focusing on compliance with 49 CFR. For those shipping internationally, you should still follow the compliance tips below, just know the specifics might be a little different when adhering to the UN Model Regulations.
Employees Should Be Trained and Certified in 49 CFREmployers involved with hazardous materials (Hazmat Employers) are required to train all employees in 49 CFR standards and regulations. Any employee involved in the loading, handling, or preparing hazardous goods for transport needs to be certified in 49 CFR. Additionally, any employee involved in operating a vehicle that’s shipping the hazardous materials needs to be certified. To become 49 CFR certified, there are five types of training the employee will need to complete:
- General Awareness Training: This introductory training explains the identifying factors of hazardous materials and ensures employees can properly categorize them.
- Function-Specific Training: This course focuses on the specifics of an employee’s position. For example, an employee involved in packing hazardous materials will take a different course than one who drives a vehicle that transports them.
- Safety Training: A general safety overview for anyone who directly or indirectly works with hazardous materials.
- Security Awareness Training: This training explains common security threats employees who are shipping hazardous goods might face. Specifically, this course dives into recognizing security threats and the best ways to handle them.
- In-Depth Security Training. This course builds off the security basics introduced in the Security Awareness Training course and expands on company-specific security procedures.