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Safety Insight - Navigating Hazardous Material Transportation Requirements

UNDOT Safety Insight

What Regulations Apply for Shipping Hazardous Materials?

There are two primary sets of regulations governing the shipping of Hazardous Materials. The first is the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) Title 49 of the Code Federal Regulations (CFR). Requirements regarding the Hazard Material shipping requirements are given in 49 CFR Parts 172 and 173. The second resource is the United Nations (UN) Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods Model Regulations. In some cases, the requirements are similar between the two resources. However, there are some nuanced differences, so it’s helpful to understand the desired region of shipping, domestic or international, to ensure the appropriate hazardous material classification . There are nine hazard classes for shipping of Hazardous Materials with a hierarchical structure that dictates the classification methodology when multiple hazards are present.

How Do I Properly Classify a Hazardous Material?

For a known substance, it is easiest to review the Hazardous Material (HM) classification table in 49 CFR 172.101. This table provides the appropriate classification for some materials. For mixtures where the constituents are known, the HM table can be used to identify the hazardous materials. The mixture should be tested to determine which, if any of these hazards are relevant for the mixture. For unknown materials, the answer to this question varies based on the form of the material (solid, liquid or gas). Flammability, thermal stability, reactivity, corrosivity and oxidizing potential may need to be determined using tests as defined in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria. For unknown materials, a Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) test is recommended. This will indicate if the material needs to be considered as a self-reactive substance and is a good screening test to determine if additional hazards need to be characterized.

While the applications to shipping hazardous materials plays a major part of material characterization, it is important to understand that these same principles apply to hazardous materials classification in the model Building and Fire Codes.

Contact a DEKRA Expert today for guidance regarding a test plan to characterize your unknown Hazardous Materials or to review the details of your current classification information.

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