hazardous material

Whether you are shipping hazardous goods for commercial reasons or on a personal scale, there are certain rules and regulations that should be applied. Taking the right precautions and protecting yourself and your recipients are essential. Being aware of the proper methods for packaging and labeling hazardous materials will not only protect you from breaking the law but will also prevent you from being held liable for any injuries that may occur in the shipment process.

What Is Hazardous Material?

Companies like CL Smith help individuals safely ship hazardous materials, so harm does not occur during the process. Hazardous material can be an item or agent that has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment. These materials can cause harm due to exposure. There are different types of hazardous materials, including the following.

  • Biochemical
  • Chemical
  • Physical
  • Radiological

All hazardous materials are defined and fully regulated at the federal level of the United States. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) handles much of the regulation of hazardous materials. Other agencies involved in the regulation include the Department of Transportation, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The hazardous material definition of OSHA is the following. A hazardous material is defined as any chemical or substance that is a health hazard or physical hazard. Some of the hazardous materials are those that contain carcinogens, sensitizers, irritants, and toxins.

Laws Regarding the Shipment of Hazardous Materials

There are certain laws that have been put in place when shipping hazardous materials. There are different rules put in place for shipment by highway, water vessel, or air. When shipping hazardous materials, hazmat training is necessary. With training, individuals will learn about 49 CFR and why it is so critical to shipping all types of hazardous materials.

49 CFR is one of fifty different Code of Federal Regulations. A failure to follow the hazardous materials shipping guidelines can result in serious fines. The following steps should be taken by employees who work with hazardous materials that must be shipped around the country or world.

  1. Obtain data safety sheets on all hazardous materials.
  2. Determine the proper means of labeling and packaging.
  3. Ensure the package has been thoroughly tested.
  4. Ensure the package has been certified.
  5. Use the package according to proper standards.
  6. Properly declare the package with the carrier.
  7. Protect all shipping records.

Choosing the Right Packaging Materials

There are many rules and regulations that have been put in place to ensure hazardous materials are safely and effectively shipped. Improper packaging offers very little protection and humans, animals, and the environment can be negatively impacted.

There are companies that specialize in hazardous material shipping supplies. These materials can be used to safely ship fireworks, chemicals, batteries, and special permit items, among others. It is imperative the right sized package is used, along with the proper protective elements, to ensure leaks and exposure do not occur while the materials are being shipped.

Important Information on Marking Hazardous Material Shipments

It does not matter if you are shipping commercially or as an individual, knowing how to properly mark all hazardous material shipments is crucial for following the law and preventing needless harm to humans, animals, or the environment.

Marking and labeling are two of the most important steps outside of properly packing the hazardous material. The marking and labeling requirements may slightly vary among methods of shipment and the destination. It is your responsibility to ensure you are taking the proper steps for labeling and marking, so you do not violate any hazardous shipping laws. The following steps should be taken for marking.

  • The marking must be in English and should be durable, so it will not wear off or become illegible during the shipping process.
  • The marking must be displayed on a background that is strikingly contrasting in color.
  • The marking must not be obscured by any labels or attachments placed on the shipping container.
  • The marking must also be placed in an area that is not adjacent to any other markings that could lead to confusion in the warning.
  • There are specific markings that are used for different types of hazardous materials, including liquids. The specific marking requirements can be found in 49CFR, Part 172, Subpart D.

Instructions for Properly Labeling Hazardous Material Shipments

There are a few rules to remember when it comes to properly label hazardous material shipments. Although marking and labeling may appear to be the same, they are different parts of the process of shipment and both are required when preparing a hazardous material shipment.

Labels are used to identify all the hazards of the material, including the primary and subsidiary ones. The methods used to communicate the hazards include using specific colors, images, and codes, so the content hazards are clearly identifiable.

  • The label must be placed in an explicit manner and can never be placed on the bottom of the package.
  • To adhere to the law, the label should be near the mark.

Adhering to the laws for proper packaging, marking, and labeling will prevent you from being fined due to breaking the law. These labels and marks help shipment employees and recipients know how to properly handle the shipment to protect against harm.


Understanding the laws that govern the shipment of hazardous materials is essential. Without the right packaging, marking, and labeling of your hazardous material shipments, you could be fined or even held liable for any harm that occurs as a result.

Careful consideration must be taken when shipping and handling all types of hazardous materials. Many people consider getting professional help, especially when they are consistently shipping hazardous materials.

It is wise for individuals to go through training to learn about the laws that are involved in regulating the shipment of hazardous materials across the country. With a full understanding of the federal laws, you can ensure you are taking the proper steps to ship all types of hazardous goods responsibly, so violations can be avoided.


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