When you are at the stage of offering hazardous materials for shipment you are taking responsibility for properly classifying and packaging your material with the correct hazard communications (e.g., marks, labels, shipping documentation, etc.). While these are just general steps and are only meant to provide a brief overview of the hazmat shipping process you will need more in-depth training of all of the regulations found in 49 CFR. This list is not a substitute for training or reviewing applicable regulations so if you are involved in shipping hazardous materials within the U.S then make sure to check out our online DOT Hazardous Materials Shipping courses. We offer courses that will certify you to ship via ground, air and sea.
Step 1: Classify the hazardous material and look it up in the DOT hazmat table
Let’s begin by looking up the product’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS). Most products that come from reputable manufacturers will have a SDS that includes a transportation hazard classification for the product. This classification provides a four-digit ID number, a proper shipping name, the hazard class, and the packing group for the product. Use this information to identify the correct entry on the Hazardous Materials Table.
The Hazardous Materials Table contains references to the appropriate packaging sections, certain quantity limitations, and any special provisions or exceptions. The table also contains the label codes and basic description for the hazmat. Obtaining the correct hazard classification is the most important part of getting started with shipping hazmat. All other requirements, including packaging, marks, labels, and shipping paper requirements, will be based on the hazard classification of a product. The DOT hazmat regulations provide classification criteria that manufacturers, shippers, and others can use to classify hazardous material.
Step 2: Determine quantities and select packaging
Select the proper packaging based on the amount of hazmat you are looking to ship. Then, depending on the hazmat and quantities, performance packaging (UN Standard or DOT-Specification packaging) may be required. PHMSA has created a guide to identifying and understanding performance packaging markings.
Step 3: Package your material
Package your hazmat according to the packaging requirements in the regulations. If performance packaging is required, you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to assemble and close the packaging. Deviating from the manufacturer’s instructions could compromise the integrity of the packaging and result in spill.
Step 4: Mark and label you package
Apply the appropriate hazard communication to your package. Examples include – orientation arrows, shipper’s information, identification number and proper shipping name markings, and hazard class labels.
Step 5: Prepare the shipping document
If it is required, prepare a shipping paper that contains a description of the hazmat, including the UN identification number, proper shipping name, hazard class, and packing group, quantity, number and type of packages, emergency contact information, a shipper’s certification, etc.
Step 6: Offer your package for shipment
Be sure to work closely with your preffered carrier to identify any additional carrier requirements. The goal is to make sure that your hazmat package arrives at its destination quickly and safely as possible.