Once upon a time, more than a decade ago, I had two aerosol containers to classify. The outer containers, contents and release valve were all exactly the same, but the classifications were very different. Inside the container, from the release valve down into the contents, there was a narrow tube. In one container the tube was very short. It only reached down into the gaseous portion of the “gas” inside. Below the end of the tube was the liquefied portion of the “gas” inside. The other container had a long tube, almost exactly the height of the container. The long tube passed through the gaseous portion, deep into the liquefied portion. What possible effect could the tube length have on the transport classification?

In the most rudimentary analysis, it didn’t have much effect at all. Both containers were classified with the name of the gas inside and the UN identification number that matched it. The exact names of the gas and UN identification number aren’t important here. What is important is that a cost-effective operation doesn’t always just stop at the root or intrinsic transport classification, but looks for potential exceptions that may simplify shipping or save money when shipping or both—and that’s where the tube length had its effect.

When the relief valve was pushed on the aerosol-style container with the short tube, the pressure in the container forced the gaseous material up the tube and out. This flow of gas blew stuff away and carried moisture with it. Although the product was sold to dry off moist electrophoresis gels, it would have worked just fine to blow the sandwich crumbs off of my computer keyboard. The latter is a use suitable for home, which means one of the Consumer Commodity exceptions is a possibility, and sure enough, we met the rest of the required conditions, and used the ORM-D exception.

However, when the relief valve was pushed on the container with the long tube, what came up the tube was liquefied gas. Whatever this liquid landed on was immediately frozen hard, including human tissue. While this was wonderful for the intended purpose—to freeze samples of moles, warts and skin growths hard enough that they could be cut into very thin slices before viewing under a microscope—it wasn’t suitable for household use. Which, unless someone was to start a “freeze your own warts off” business, precluded use of the money-saving ORM-D Consumer Commodity exception.

poop freezex

Then, a few years later came Poop Freeze. When I share this example in a presentation or in a training course, at first people think I’m joking. Poop Freeze is sold to dog owners who have to pick up their pets’ droppings. Usually, that odious task is not a problem but, once in while, a dog may have a bowel issue and the droppings aren’t very solid. Thorough spraying with Poop Freeze renders them hard as rocks and easy to pick up. People buy it and use it and that is therefore a household use. Even better, it’s the same gas and same container style as the long-tubed, tissue-freezing product I had difficulty classifying years previously. Therefore, when the Poop Freeze product showed me a household use, the ORM-D exception came back into play for the long-tubed product and my employer started saving money on its shipments, too.

The products both sold well and eventually the marketing people decided to sell it overseas. Arrangements were made to store product in local warehouses, sell in small numbers to individual customers and resupply in large numbers via ocean-crossing boats. In the minds of the marketers, shipping domestically versus shipping internationally was a simple matter of writing a different delivery address on the documentation. Many of us know, however, that’s a gross oversimplification, especially with these two products. For example, there are no Consumer Commodities in the international ocean transport regulations (IMDG Code), nor ORM-D nor Class 9, ID8000.

We had a new classifier starting with us and she showed me her work on the IMDG Code classifications, calling them UN1950, Aerosols, 2.2 (non-flammable, non-toxic gas). Unfortunately, that’s not allowable to, from or within the U.S. It was really a great learning opportunity for the new classifier, as we compared what the IMDG Code says about aerosols (gas “with or without” something else being pushed out) with what the U.S. 49CFR says about aerosols (gas for the “sole purpose” of ejecting something else). Normally, small differences between 49CFR and international regulations aren’t a big deal, as the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) usually allows us to “just use” the international regulations. However, for some unexplained reason, the DOT put in a special prohibition against the use of the “aerosol” classification for “lone gas” or “pure gas” aerosols any time any portion of a shipment involves the U.S. or U.S. territorial waters. While both of “aerosol-style” containers were ORM-D for U.S. domestic ground shipments, neither one could be UN1950 Aerosols for international ocean shipments starting or ending in the U.S.

I learned several things from the whole process, such as how minor variations in packaging can have major effects upon classifications and how upper management often thinks our work is much simpler than it is. However, the most important lesson I learned is that just because I have (a) gas doesn’t mean I have an aerosol. How about that? Regulatory Speak (or Bureaucratish or Legalese or whatever they wrote the regulations in) isn’t the same as plain English. Who knew? SPRAY

I have trouble with my elevator speech. You know, that pitch where you tell someone else what you do during the time it takes for an elevator to reach your floor after you get on. Somewhere in my explanation I’ll inevitably mention “hazardous materials,” which is often just enough information for the recipient of my speech to think they know what I do. Sometimes, I get a response such as “Yeah, it’s really important to keep track of those hazardous wastes”. Well, yeah, but no.


Important hazardous waste (HazWaste) regulations are put out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) but they differ from those issued by the U.S. Dept of Transportation (DOT) or their international equivalents, which is what I specialize in.

On other occasions, my speech gets a response such as, “Oh, those chemicals that have material safety data sheets (MSDS)?” Well again, yeah, but no. MSDS are now just known as safety data sheets (SDS), at least around most of the globe, and they too are important. The chemicals they address are often “Dangerous Goods” (Hazardous Material or HazMat for transport), but not always, and Dangerous Goods regulations cover a lot of materials that aren’t considered “chemicals” by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) definition. Oops, the elevator doors open at our floor, and I haven’t even managed to talk about how some safety regulations regarding “hazardous” aren’t the same as transport safety regulations regarding “hazardous.”

However, at least everyone knows what kind of stuff the transport regulations deal with, right? Well, no. Everyone knows about most materials the Dangerous Goods regulations cover, but few know that they’re HazMat. There are several reasons for this. To start with, air travelers get the wrong message from our modern aviation systems. Upon checking in, almost every traveler clicks a button on a check-in screen (maybe a cell phone, or maybe at the airport) declaring that they have no, none, zip, zero HazMat with them or in their luggage. They then go through security where their carry-on stuff is peered at via X-ray, and their checked luggage occasionally has a rectangular notice that it was manually inspected, and neither type of inspection results in them being told that they lied about not having any HazMat. Because, make no mistake, you always have HazMat with you. Whether worn on your wrist, or in your cell phone, or in your key fob, or powering any of a whole range of other electronics, you’ve got batteries with you, and all batteries are HazMat (Dangerous Goods). Not to mention aerosols that are often in checked luggage, as well as the perfumes, colognes, nail polish or nail polish remover that are all similar HazMat. Because the Transportation Security Administration (TSA—who does the peering, X-raying and inspecting) isn’t interested in enforcing HazMat regulations, airline passengers inadvertently and mistakenly learn that many Hazardous Materials aren’t hazardous.

Besides, who would eat, inhale or rub HazMat into or onto their bodies? Well, anyone who drinks a bit of cough syrup and its ethanol ingredient, or puffs an asthma inhaler, or uses an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, would ingest, inhale or smear HazMat.

“Wait a moment,” you may be thinking, “I can get all those things at my grocery store, so they can’t be HazMat.” The pharmacist or cashier doesn’t give you shipping papers. The policeman issuing you a warning for that burned-out brake light doesn’t give you a further ticket for not HazMat placarding your car, so how can those spray paints, batteries, medicine and personal care products be HazMat? Not to mention the matches, drain cleaners, liquid paints, vanilla extracts and insecticides? Well, the answer is as simple as two words: “in commerce”.


Last time I took (rather than teaching) a ground HazMat transport course, I sat next to two people from Wal-Mart. These individuals reminded me that from the manufacturer to Wal-Mart (and more importantly to them) from the Wal-Mart distribution centers to Wal-Mart stores, HazMat regulations apply because those shipments are “in commerce.” Once sold to a personal customer and transported in a personal vehicle, those same hazardous materials are no longer regulated. They’re regulated again if the person pays an airline to fly them somewhere, because that’s a “commercial” flight (although there are some regulatory breaks, such as for most personal care items in luggage). They’re still regulated, however, if a business buys them, regardless of whether paid for by “petty cash,” a company credit card or a company charge account.

For example, a drain cleaner sold to you to use at home wouldn’t be covered by HazMat regulations. A drain cleaner sold to you for use at work, however, would be considered HazMat and covered by the regulations, even if you drove it to work in your personal vehicle.

To avoid HazMat regulations for things such aerosols, flavors and fragrances, the answer is pretty simple: take it personally. When you transport them yourself, for your own use, they’re not HazMat. If you need to transport them at work or personally pay UPS or FedEx to deliver some for you as gifts, then in those situations, you’re not taking it personally—and you’d better comply with the regulations. SPRAY


Gene Sanders is the owner of W.E. Train Consulting, and a specialist in regulations regarding the transportation of Dangerous Goods (sometimes called hazardous materials in the U.S.). Sanders has degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry, and has several professional certifications including; CDGT (Certified Dangerous Goods Trainer), CDGP (Certified Dangerous Goods Professional), CET (Certified Environmental, Safety & Health Trainer) and DGSA (Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor). Sanders is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Dangerous Goods Trainers Association (DGTA). If you need “five minutes of free advice” contact Sanders at Gene@WEtrainConsulting.com or +1 (813) 855-3855.

Dangerous goods accidents and incidents caused by human error can be substantially reduced by developing, implementing and providing a robust hazardous materials transportation training program.

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s (DOT) Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) requires training for persons who prepare or transport hazardous materials for transportation in commerce. The intent of the HMR is to ensure that each hazardous material (hazmat) employee is familiar with the HMR, is able to recognize and identify hazmat, understands the specific requirements applicable to the functions he or she performs and is knowledgeable of emergency response procedures, self-protection measures and accident prevention methods. The DOT’s hazardous materials transportation training requirements are outlined in 49 CFR Part 172, Subpart H and include:

General Awareness/Familiarization

This program provides hazmat employees a familiarity with the requirements of the HMR and enables them to recognize and identify hazardous materials consistent with the hazard communication standards. All hazmat employees are required to receive general awareness/familiarization training. This training typically provides a basic understanding of the following topics:


  • Identification of Hazardous Materials
  • International Hazard Classification System
  • How to Use the Hazardous Materials Table
  • Packing & Packaging
  • Hazard Communication (marking, labeling, placarding)
  • Shipping Papers
  • Stowage & Segregation
  • Training Requirements
  • Incident Reporting


Function-Specific Training

Function-specific training provides hazardous materials employees with a more detailed analysis of the requirements of the HMR as it applies to the function(s) performed by the hazardous materials employees. Training requirements will vary depending upon the company operations and the hazardous materials employee’s responsibilities. The hazardous materials employer must identify the specific topics and extent to which topics are covered to meet its employees’ needs.


Safety Training

The DOT General Safety Training program describes the hazards presented by hazardous materials and addresses safe handling, emergency response information and methods and procedures for accident avoidance. Training that meets U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulations may be acceptable in meeting the HMR, provided it addresses DOT hazard communication requirements and the risks associated with DOT-regulated hazardous materials. All hazardous materials employees are required to receive safety training.


Topics should include:


  • Emergency Response Information
  • Emergency Response Telephone Numbers
  • Means of Egress
  • Employee Emergency Plans & Fire Prevention Plans
  • General Safety and Health Provisions
  • Employee Emergency Action Plans
  • Contract Employer Responsibilities
  • Hazardous Waste Operations & Emergency Response
  • Personal Protective Equipment


Security Awareness Training

This training program provides hazardous materials employees with a general understanding of the security risks associated with hazardous materials transportation and the methods designed to enhance transportation security. All hazardous materials employees are required to have security awareness training. Subjects that should be included in this training program are:


  • Regulatory Requirements
  • Potential Threats
  • Potential Targets
  • Prevention Tools


In-Depth Security Training

The In-Depth Security Plan Training directly relates to the company’s security plan. Specific content is dependent upon the company security plan and the employees’ responsibilities. Hazardous materials employees are required to receive training commensurate with their responsibilities. Training must include:


  • Security Objectives
  • Specific Security Procedures
  • Employee Responsibilities
  • Actions to Take in the Event of a Security Breach
  • Organizational Security Structure


Delivery Methods

There are many training delivery methods but they can generally be categorized into one of four major types:


  1. Web-based
  2. Computer-based
  3. Classroom
  4. Hands-on/Mentor


Each delivery method has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages and disadvantages of web-based and classroom training are compared and contrasted below:


Web-Based Training


Advantages Disadvantages
·         Provides standardized training ensuring a consistent message ·         Bandwidth limitations can place constraints on certain media types
·         Decreases the time employees are out of the office ·         Hazmat employees must be self-directed and comfortable using the web
·         Allows for quick updates for rapidly changing material ·         Hazmat employees may be distracted or interrupted
·         Training is more accessible to a larger audience ·         It is difficult to provide opportunities for hands-on experience
·         Cost effective way to refresh existing training ·         Some may find it difficult to engage and retain
·         Training is more convenient for employees ·         Limited interaction with an instructor
·         No travel costs ·         Difficult to assess employee progress in real time
·         Little or no cost associated with obtaining new media updates ·         Compatible equipment may not be available


Classroom Training


Advantages Disadvantages
·         Provides an instructor and a structured approach to teaching ·         Potential personality differences between the trainer and the hazmat employees
·         Allows for real time discussion and provides interaction that isn’t easily duplicated even with the most advanced technology ·         Fellow trainees can dictate the pace of the training, leaving some students behind, and others bored with a pace that is too slow for them
·         Allows for constructive team building ·         Difficult to guarantee outcomes
·         Personalized assistance from the instructor can address individual student needs ·         Scheduling based on trainer or facility availability, not employee needs
·         Leverages instructor skills and experience ·         Costs for travel, training, and the instructor
·         Easy to confirm whether hazmat employees have taken the course  
·         Easy to use evaluation tools to confirm that learning has occurred  
·         Opportunity to customize training to meet employer needs and requirements  


Training Effectiveness

An effective hazardous materials transportation training program includes a series of well-written training modules, learning assessments, a comprehensive examination and certification upon successful completion of the course material and examination(s).

An effective training program:


  • Promotes a safe workplace and appropriate safe work practices
  • Protects employees, transportation partners, the community and the public
  • Improves a company’s productivity and efficiency
  • Develops employee skills
  • May prevent or reduce civil penalty fines or other sanctions
  • Ensures the safe and secure shipment of hazardous materials
  • Reduces likelihood of a catastrophic event such as fire or explosion
  • Promotes an understanding of why compliance and safety is necessary


Facilities should give serious consideration to providing training more frequently than once every three years as these requirements are very dynamic and subject to change in the intervening three-year cycle. Web-based training programs are ideal for this type of training and for training new employees.


Instructor Qualifications

Instructor qualifications are also an important element of an effective training program. Dangerous goods instructors may have varying degrees of subject matter expertise and teaching skills. In addition to understanding the subject matter, instructors should understand the best method of delivery for the given audience and be able to effectively communicate very difficult concepts or requirements.



The hazardous materials employer is responsible for maintaining training records for each hazardous materials employee. These records must be kept for the duration of the three-year training cycle while the hazardous materials employee is employed and for 90 days after the employee changes employment. Training records must be made available by the employer for review of an audit by the regulatory authorities upon request.

Training records must include the following:

  • The hazardous materials employee’s name
  • The most recent training completion date
  • A description of, copy of or reference to the training materials used to meet the training requirements
  • The name and address of the person providing the training
  • A certification that the person has been trained and tested as required


For questions regarding hazmat transportation training, contact the DOT Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration at (800) 467-4922 or the author at steve@shipmate.com or (310) 370-3600.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has incorporated a number of changes into its 58th Edition of the Dangerous Goods Regulations (IATA DGR). This edition will become effective on Jan. 1, 2017. There is also a two-year transition period, until Dec. 31, 2018, for the new lithium battery mark. Following are synopses of the significant changes and amendments to the 58th Edition, grouped by topic:

1 – Applicability

Section 1.4 – Operator Responsibilities. The requirements of Section 1.4.3 have been completely revised to allow for operators to develop a performance-based notification system to advise passengers that reflect the operator’s own capabilities and operations. The details of this notification system must be documented in the operator’s operations or other applicable manual.

Section 1.6 – Adequate Instruction. A new paragraph has been added that outlines the requirements for shippers of Section II lithium batteries to meet the conditions for “adequate instruction” of employees who are responsible for the preparation of packages of lithium batteries offered for air transport.

2 – Limitations

Section 2.6 – Dangerous Goods in Excepted Quantities. The packing provisions have been revised to allow for the absorbent material to be either in the intermediate packaging or the outer packaging for liquid dangerous goods.

Section 2.8 – Operator Variations. There are a number of additions, deletions and amendments to variations submitted by operators.

3 – Classification

Section – A new paragraph has been added to set out the provisions for where a shipper identifies, by testing, that a listed substance has a subsidiary hazard not identified in the list of dangerous goods. The new provision identifies that the shipper must, with the approval of the appropriate national authority, either use a “n.o.s.” (not otherwise specified) entry or ship the substance under the listed entry with the addition of the subsidiary hazard.

Sections 3.2.6, 3.3.6, and 3.8.4 – New provisions have been added to address substances in Class 2, Class 3, Division 6.1 and Class 8, respectively, that may polymerize during normal conditions of transport.

Section – Provisions have been added for the classification of polymerizing substances. The provisions are analogous to those for self-reactive substances.

4 – Identification

4.2 – List of Dangerous Goods. Amendments to the List of Dangerous Goods include:

  • revision to a number of the entries for aerosols to consolidate all aerosols into packing instructions 203 and Y203;
  • addition of special provision A209 against entries with “stabilized” in the proper shipping name;
  • all entries of “engines” have been deleted from UN 3166. UN 3166 in Class 9 now only applies to the proper shipping names “vehicles.” Engines are now assigned to UN 3528 – UN 3530 in Division 2.1, Class 3 or Class 9, based on the classification of the fuel that powers the engine. Also assigned to UN 3528 – UN 3530 are proper shipping names for “machines,” which are also based on the classification of the fuel used to power the machines;
  • UN 3480, Lithium ion batteries has been amended to show “forbidden” across columns I/J to identify that these batteries are now restricted to Cargo Aircraft Only. This change became effective April 1, 2016 through an addendum to the 57th edition of the DGR. There is no change to the entries for UN 3481, lithium ion batteries packed with equipment or lithium ion batteries contained in equipment;
  • all entries for lithium batteries, UN 3090, UN 3091, UN 3480 and UN 3481 have been revised to identify that the hazard label has changed to now be the lithium battery Class 9 label. A new Special Provision A206 has also been assigned to reinforce this new requirement; and,
  • four new entries, UN 3531–UN 3534 have been added for polymerizing substances.

4.4 – Special Provisions. Special Provisions that have changed include:

  • A21 and A134 – Have been revised to address the changes to UN 3166 and the new entries for engines and machinery;
  • A88 – Which applies to prototype or small production run lithium cells and batteries has been revised to now refer to PI 910 in the Supplement to the ICAO Technical Instructions;
  • A104 – Which was assigned to UN 1230, Methanol, and which allowed packages containing methanol to not bear a Toxic hazard label, been deleted. All packages containing methanol must now bear a Division 6.1 hazard label in addition to the Class 3 label;
  • A112 – Has been revised to identify that ID 8000, Consumer commodity can now also include aviation regulated substances, UN 3334 and UN 3335; and
  • A181 – Has been revised to more clearly describe the requirements for packages that contain both lithium batteries packed with equipment and lithium batteries contained in equipment.
  • A331 – Is a new special provision assigned against UN 3480, Lithium ion batteries to identify the possible requirements for a shipper to meet to obtain an approval to ship lithium ion batteries at a state of charge in excess of 30% of the rated capacity of the battery.

5 – Packing

Section – Dangerous goods in unit load devices and freight containers. The provisions have been revised to allow for unit load devices (ULD) that contain UN 3373 or ID 8000 to also contain dry ice as a refrigerant.

Section – New provisions have been added to allow, with the approval of the authorities of the States of origin and of the operator, for the use of UN specification large packagings for articles that weigh in excess of 400 kg.

Several Packing Instructions including the following have been updated:

  • PI 200 – Has been revised to include new provisions for liquefied gases charged with a compressed gas to require the shipper to take both components into account when calculating the internal pressure in the cylinder. There are also additional provisions to require that shippers when charging cylinders must use qualified staff;
  • PI 203 and PI Y203 – These packing instructions have been revised to incorporate the provisions in PI 204;
  • PI Y204 and PI 212. These packing instructions have now been deleted;
  • PI 220 – Is a new packing instruction added for engines and machinery powered by a flammable gas;
  • PI 378 – Is a new packing instruction added for engines and machinery powered by a flammable liquid;
  • PI 459 – Has been revised to include polymerizing substances (UN 3531 and UN 3532) with self-reactive substances;
  • PI 965 – PI 970 – Section IB of PI 965 and PI 968 and Section II of all of the lithium battery packing instructions have been revised to remove reference to the need for an additional document to accompany consignments of Section II lithium batteries. As of Jan. 1, 2017, this document is no longer required. The lithium battery handling label, which is required on packages, has been replaced by a new lithium battery mark. The dimensions and color of the new lithium battery mark are the same as for the lithium battery handling label, but all words have been removed and the UN number(s) is required to be applied. There is a two-year transition period until Dec. 31, 2018 to allow shippers to implement the lithium battery mark; and
  • PI 972 – Is a new packing instruction added for engines and machinery powered by a fuel classified only as environmentally hazardous.

6 – Packaging Specifications and Performance Tests

Section 6.4.2 – This subsection has been revised to bring in reference to new International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards and also to identify the period during which the ISO standards may be applied for manufacture and also after which time the standards may no longer be used.

7 – Marking & Labeling

There are numerous editorial amendments to change the word “marking” or “markings” to read “mark” or “marks”. This reflects the correct English usage where what is applied to a package is a “mark”, whereas “marking” is the act of applying the mark. However, the greatest number of these editorial changes is in Section 7.

Section – Are the new provisions that set out the requirements for the lithium battery mark. The specification of the lithium battery mark is shown as Figure 7.1.C in the IATA DGR 58th Edition. The new mark comes into effect as of Jan. 1, 2017 with a two-year transition period during which time either the lithium battery mark or the lithium battery handling label may be applied to packages containing lithium batteries prepared in accordance with Section IB or Section II of the lithium battery packing instructions.

Section – The provisions on additional text on hazard labels have been revised to identify that for the new Class 9–Lithium Battery hazard label the only information permitted in the bottom half of the label is the pictogram and the class number.

Section 7.3.18 – The specification of the new Class 9–Lithium Battery hazard label has been added as a new Figure 7.3.X. The new hazard label comes into effect as of Jan. 1, 2017 with a two-year transitional period during which time either the existing Class 9–Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods hazard label or the new Class 9–Lithium Battery hazard label may be applied to packages containing lithium batteries prepared in accordance with Section I, IA or IB of the lithium battery packing instructions.

8 – Documentation

Section – A note has been added to identify that notwithstanding the change to the UN numbers and division/class for “engines,” shippers may still consign engines as UN 3166 in Class 9 until March 31, 2017.

Section – Clarification has been added on how the identification number for multiple overpacks should be shown.

Section, Step 9 – The list of special provision numbers that are required to be shown in the “authorizations” area of the Shipper’s Declaration has been revised.

Section – The paragraph identifying that for shipments of lithium batteries prepared under Section IB of PI 965 and PI 968 that the information required on the additional document may be included on the Shipper’s Declaration or may be on an additional document has been deleted as the additional document is no longer required.

Sections and – Have each been revised to remove the mandatory requirement for title of the signatory and the place that the Shipper’s Declaration was signed. This information may still be provided, but is no longer mandatory.

9 – Handling

Notes have been added under 9.0 to reference Annex 19–Safety Management Systems and the ICAO Safety Management Manual. All operators are required to implement a Safety Management System (SMS) and the carriage of dangerous goods is included within the scope of the operator’s SMS.

Section – A new paragraph has been added to require that the operator must be able to identify the person who performed the acceptance check.

Section – The provisions for acceptance of a shipper loaded unit load device (ULD) containing dry ice have been revised to also allow UN 3373 or ID 8000 to be in the ULD with dry ice. 9.1.9 – A new paragraph has been added recommending that operators conduct a safety risk assessment for the transport of dangerous goods.

Section – The information required on the written information to the pilot-in-command (NOTOC) has been revised to clarify that for ID 8000 the gross weight of each package may be the average gross weight when this is what has been declared on the Shipper’s Declaration.

Section 9.8.2 – The acceptance checklist retained on file must now include identification of the person who performed the acceptance check.

For questions regarding the new IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations, contact steve@shipmate.com or +1 (310) 370-3600, or contact IATA’s Dangerous Goods Section at dangood@iata.org.

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) refers to “strong outer packaging” and “conditions normally incident to transportation” throughout Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), subchapter C Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR). In particular, 49 CFR §173.306, the section applicable to aerosols and limited quantities of compressed gases, refers to “strong outer packaging” fourteen times. I counted the term “conditions normally incident to transportation” in the HMR no fewer than 30 times.

Interestingly enough, one term is used to define the other. Regulation 49 CFR §171.8 defines a “strong outer packaging” as:

…the outermost enclosure that provides protection against the unintentional release of its contents. It is a packaging that is sturdy, durable, and constructed so that it will retain its contents under normal conditions of transportation. In addition, a strong outer packaging must meet the general packaging requirements of subpart B of part 173 of this subchapter but need not comply with the specification packaging requirements in part 178 of the subchapter. For transport by aircraft, a strong outer packaging is subject to §173.27 of this subchapter. The terms “strong outside container” and “strong outside packaging” are synonymous with “strong outer packaging.”

Curiously, however, DOT never defines the term “conditions normally incident to transportation.”

Strong Outer Packaging
A “strong outer packaging” must be…sturdy, durable and constructed so that it will retain its contents….and meet the general packaging requirements…of 49 CFR 173 subpart B and, for transport by air, meet the requirements of 49 CFR §173.27.

49 CFR §173.24 (General requirements for packagings and packages), section 173.24(b) requires that:

There will be no identifiable (without the use of instruments) release of hazardous materials to the environment;

The effectiveness of the package will not be substantially reduced. For example, impact resistance, strength, packaging compatibility, etc. must be maintained for the minimum and maximum temperatures, changes in humidity and pressure, and shocks, loadings and vibrations, normally encountered during transportation;

There will be no mixture of gases or vapors in the package which could, through any spontaneous increase of heat or pressure, significantly reduce the effectiveness of the packaging; and

There will be no hazardous material residue adhering to the outside of the package during transport.

Certainly, requirements (a), (c) and (d) listed above seem logical and Item (b) seems reasonable, as well. However, it is much harder to quantify the minimum and maximum temperatures, changes in humidity and pressure, and shocks, loadings and vibrations that are normally encountered during transportation.

Transportation by Air
Regulation 49 CFR §173.27(c) requires that packagings be designed and constructed to prevent leakage that may be caused by changes in altitude and temperature during transportation aboard aircraft. These provisions also require that:

Packaging for which retention of liquid is a basic function must be capable of withstanding without leakage the greater of:

 (i)         An internal pressure which produces a gauge pressure of not less than 75 kPa (11 psig) for liquids in Packing Group III of Class 3 or Division 6.1; or 95 kPa (14 psig) for other liquids; or

 (ii)        A pressure related to the vapor pressure of the liquid to be conveyed, determined by one of the following:

 (A)       The total gauge pressure measured in the receptacle (i.e., the vapor pressure of the material and the partial pressure of air or other inert gases, less 100 kPa (15 psia)) at 55°C (131°F), multiplied by a safety factor of 1.5; determined on the basis of a filling temperature of 15°C (59°F) and a degree of filling such that the receptacle is not completely liquid full at a temperature of 55°C (131°F) or less;

 (B)       1.75 times the vapor pressure at 50°C (122°F) less 100 kPa (15 psia); or

 (C)       1.5 times the vapor pressure at 55°C (131°F) less 100 kPa (15 psia).

Regulation 49 CFR §173.27(d) requires the body and closures of any packaging to be constructed such that they will adequately resist the effects of temperature and vibration occurring in conditions normally incident to air transportation. There it is again: normally incident to transportation.

Conditions Normally Incident to Transportation
I poured through the plethora of U.S. DOT interpretations trying to find a definition of the term “conditions normally incident to transportation” and found nothing. Interesting enough, however, I did find a more quantitative definition of the elusive term in the unlikeliest of places—10 CFR §71.71 are regulations that apply to shipments of radioactive material. Title 10, Code of Federal Regulations, section 71.71 defines Normal Conditions of Transport as:


Heat An ambient temperature of 38°C (100°F) in still air.
Cold An ambient temperature of -40°C (-40°F) in still air and shade.
Reduced External Pressure An external pressure of 25 kPa (3.5 psi) absolute.
Increased External Pressure An external pressure of 140 kPa (20 psi) absolute.
Vibration Vibration normally incident to transport.
Water Spray A water spray that simulates exposure to rainfall of approximately 5cm/h (2in/h) for at least one hour.
Free Drop A free drop through the distance specified below onto a flat, essentially unyielding, horizontal surface, striking the surface in a position for which maximum damage is expected.
Corner Drop A free drop onto each corner of the package in succession, or in the case of a cylindrical package onto each quarter of each rim, from a height of 0.3m (1ft) onto a flat, essentially unyielding, horizontal surface.
Compression The package must be subjected, for a period of 24 hours, to a compressive load applied uniformly to the top and bottom of the package in the position in which the package would normally be transported. The compressive load must be the greater of the following:

The equivalent of five times the weight of the package; or

The equivalent of 13 kPa (2psi) multiplied by the vertically projected area of the package.

Penetration Impact of the hemispherical end of a vertical steel cylinder of 3.2cm (1.25in) diameter and 6kg (13lbs) mass, dropped from a height of 1m (40in) onto the exposed surface of the package that is expected to be most vulnerable to puncture. The long axis of the cylinder must be perpendicular to the package surface.

Arguably, their definition of heat seems too low given that cities such as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Yuma and Palm Springs have average highs over 100°F (38°C) during the summer months. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the official highest recorded temperature is now 56.7°C (134°F), which was measured on July 10, 1913 at Greenland Ranch, Death Valley, CA. The average daily maximum temperature in the hottest inhabited place on Earth (Dallol, Ethiopia) is 41.1°C (106°F).

Nevertheless, we all know, intuitively, that the average temperature inside a closed freight container or tractor trailer in the summer is closer to 130°F. Maybe this is why the reference temperature of +55°C (131°F) is used throughout the HMR? Therefore, shippers would be wise to consider the term “Heat” to include temperatures of up to +55 °C (131°F).

With respect to “Reduced External Pressure,” 10 CFR §71.71 defines it as being as low as 3.5psia. However, most commercial aircraft are limited to a maximum altitude of 45,000 ft. Temperatures at these altitudes are typically around -40°C (-40°F). At that reference temperature and altitude, the ambient air pressure would actually be 1.21 psi. Indeed, the U.S. DOT’s HMR refers to a 95 kPa pressure differential test being required for the inner packagings of combination packagings tendered for air transport. A pressure drop of 95 kPa at max altitude would mean an ambient air pressure of less than 1.0 psia. Therefore, shippers should also consider that “Reduced External Pressure” could be as low as 0.74 psia (or -70°C at 45,000 ft).

With respect to vibration, I would recommend that shippers consult 49 CFR §178.608, which outlines requirements for the vibration test performed on UN-approved fiberboard boxes. Since the regulations state that non-specification packagings must be capable of passing the prescribed tests, it stands to reason that we refer to the test criteria in the vibration standard.

Vibration Test
Three sample packagings, selected at random, must be filled and closed as for shipment. The three samples must be placed on a vibrating platform that has a vertical or rotary double-amplitude (peak-to-peak displacement) of one inch. The packages should be constrained horizontally to prevent them from falling off the platform, but must be left free to move vertically, bounce and rotate. The test must be performed for one hour at a frequency that causes the package to be raised from the vibrating platform to such a degree that a piece of material approximately 1.6mm (0.063 inch) thickness (such as steel strapping or paperboard) can be passed between the bottom of any package and the platform.

Pass/Fail Criteria
A package passes the above tests if there is no rupture or leakage from any of the samples. No test sample should show any deformation that could adversely affect transportation safety or any distortion liable to reduce packaging strength.

Certainly, if the conditions outlined herein were considered, one could argue that the packaging to be used was capable of meeting the “conditions normally incident to transportation,” and would, therefore, be defined as a “strong outer packaging” and approved for the transport of these types of dangerous goods.

For additional information on strong outer packagings and conditions normally incident to transportation, you may contact the U.S. DOT PHMSA website at http://phmsa.dot.gov/hazmat or call ShipMate, Inc. at (310) 370-3600.


I recently returned from a trip to Falkirk, Scotland. Although I have traveled to more than 100 countries across the globe, I had never been to Scotland. The purpose of my visit? No, not the Single Malt Scotch nor the golf either! I traveled over 4,600 miles to take an exam. I sat for the Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor certification exam under the watchful eye of the Scottish Qualifications Authority. Although the test was also offered in Germany and China, my Chinese and German language skills are not quite up to par. Frankly, neither is my Scottish!

I figured that, having had 25+ years experience in the transport of dangerous goods by all modes, I would be able to quickly brush up on the standards of the European Agreements on the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) and Inland Waterways (ADN), take the “short” exam, receive my credentials and then I would enjoy the beautiful countryside in the midlands and highlands for the balance of my short trip.

How wrong I was; the exam was not short at all. There were four exams in total, each two hours in length. I found the exam to be extremely challenging, consisting of approximately 50 questions, all based on a typical shipping scenario. Much of the exam was comprised of essay questions, not the expected true/false and multiple choice questions that I’ve been accustomed to on other professional accreditation tests.

After completing the grueling 10-hour day, I reflected on the test I had just completed. It occurred to me that it was the same test required for all Dangerous Goods Safety Advisors, which the European authorities require each company to have in order to transport dangerous goods in other than limited quantities.

Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor 

Within Europe and other ADR countries, shippers, carriers and other businesses involved with the transport of dangerous goods must usually appoint a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor [Adviser] (DGSA) in order to comply with ADR and/or national regulations.

The DGSA has three main duties per the UK’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE):

  • monitoring compliance with rules governing transport of dangerous goods;
  • advising their business on the transport of dangerous goods; and
  • preparing an annual report to management on the business’ activities in the transport of dangerous goods.

To become a DGSA, candidates must generally receive training from a specialized training organization and then sit for the various modal examinations. The DGSA qualification lasts five years. The examining body in the UK is the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

The rules involving the transport of dangerous goods are complex and each mode of transport (e.g., surface, air and ocean) has its own set of regulations. The various sets of regulations are based upon “Recommendations on the transport of Dangerous Goods: Model Regulations,” known as “The Orange Book,” issued by the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transportation of Dangerous Goods and the Globally Harmonized System of Classification & Labeling. Although there are many similarities with respect to hazard communication, packaging and documentation, there is enough difference between the different modes that it really takes a well-trained person to understand the modal requirements in order to be fully compliant.

I thought to myself, why aren’t the U.S. standards the same as those of Europe? How can a person in the U.S. take a 30-minute online hazmat course and be “qualified” to offer dangerous goods for transportation in commerce? Why doesn’t the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) require each company to have a designated and “qualified” person, such as a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor, at each location that offers hazardous materials for transport?

The DOT requires that all hazardous materials employees, as defined in 49 CFR 171.8 to receive training, be tested and “certified” by the hazmat employer in the following areas:

  • General Awareness & Familiarization
    General awareness/familiarization training is designed to provide familiarity with the requirements of 49 CFR subchapter C, and to enable the employee to recognize and identify hazardous materials consistent with the hazard communication standards of the DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).


  • DOT General Safety
    Every hazmat employee is also required to receive safety training concerning: (a) emergency response information required by 49 CFR, part 172, subpart G; (b) measures to protect the employee from the hazards associated with dangerous goods to which they may be exposed in the work place, including specific measures the hazmat employer has implemented to protect employees from exposure; and (c) methods and procedures for avoiding accidents, such as the proper procedures for handling packages containing hazardous materials.


  • Hazardous Materials Security Awareness
    Each hazmat employee must also receive training that provides an awareness of security risks associated with hazardous materials transportation and methods designed to enhance transportation security. This training must also include a component covering how to recognize and respond to possible security threats.


  • Function-Specific
    Each hazmat employee must be provided function-specific training concerning requirements of 49 CFR subchapter (or exemptions or special permits issued thereunder) that are specifically applicable to the functions the employee performs. As an alternative to the function-specific training requirements of the subchapter (49 CFR subchapter C), training relating to the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Technical Instructions and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code may be provided to the extent that such training addresses those functions authorized by 49 CFR part 171, subpart C.


  • Professional Accreditation
    However, unlike Europe, the DOT does not require each dangerous goods shipper to employ an accredited hazardous materials professional. The DOT only specifies that the training provided to its hazardous materials employees be relevant and of sufficient length to meet the minimum regulatory requirements specified in 49 CFR § 172.704.

Because of the complexity of the HMR, companies should consider reducing the number of hazardous materials employees and assign those functions to a smaller group, which is then provided more detailed hazardous materials transportation training. Companies are also encouraged to consider funding the training for one or two individuals that seek professional accreditation.

In the U.S., there are several organizations that offer professional accreditations including the Institute of Hazardous Materials Managers (IHMM), the Dangerous Goods Trainers Association (DGTA), and the Board of Certified Safety Professionals through which you can earn the Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), Certified Dangerous Goods Professional (CDGP), Certified Dangerous Goods Trainer (CDGT), Certified Environmental Health & Safety Trainer (CET) or Certified Safety Professional (CSP) designations. Each board certified accreditation requires that candidates have minimum educational and/or work experience, written letters of recommendations from peers and successful completion of a series of written exams.

To receive more information about professional safety and hazardous materials accreditations, contact ShipMate, Inc. at +1 (310) 370-3600 or contact any of the following organizations:


Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM)  

11900 Parklawn Dr., Suite 450

Rockville, MD 20852-2624

Phone: 301-984-8969

Fax: 301-984-1516

E-mail: info@ihmm.org


Dangerous Goods Trainers Association, Inc. (DGTA) 

1138 N. Germantown Pkwy

Suite 101, #356

Cordova, TN 38016

Phone: +1 (901) 290-2270 International / +1 (888) 400-4953 toll-free (North America only)

E-mail: info@dgta.org


Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) 

2301 W. Bradley Ave.

Champaign, IL 61821

Phone: +1 217-359-9263

Fax: +1 217-359-0055

One of the most significant advantages of shipping dangerous goods as limited quantities is that expensive United Nations (UN) Performance Oriented Packaging (POP) is not required.
The provisions of the 49 CFR subchapter C Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Technical Instructions for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code each offer substantial regulatory relief from the use of packaging that has been subjected to very stringent and expensive design qualification testing, including drop, vibration and stacking tests. In lieu of using UN POP, shippers may use strong outer packaging.

Strong Outer Packaging
Strong outer packaging is defined as “…the outermost enclosure that provides protection against the unintentional release of its contents. It is a packaging that is sturdy, durable and constructed so that it will retain its contents under normal conditions of transportation.”

Strong outer packaging must meet the general packaging requirements of 49 CFR part 173, subpart B but need not comply with the specification packaging requirements prescribed in part 178 of the HMR. Strong outer packaging intended for transport by aircraft are also subject to §173.27 of the HMR.

To qualify as a strong outer packaging, the packaging must meet the following requirements:

  • Be designed, constructed, maintained, filled, its contents so limited, and closed, so that under conditions normally incident to transportation, there will be no identifiable release of hazardous materials to the environment;
  • The effectiveness of the package is not substantially reduced;
    It has sufficient impact resistance, strength, and is capable of withstanding minimum and maximum temperatures, changes in humidity and pressure, and shocks, loadings and vibrations, normally encountered during transportation;
  • It is compatible with its lading, particularly with respect to corrosivity, permeability, softening, premature aging and embrittlement;
  • There is no significant chemical or galvanic reaction between the materials and contents of the package; and
  • Any closure is leakproof and secured against loosening.

Packaging used for solids, which may become liquid at temperatures likely to be encountered during transportation, must be capable of containing the hazardous material in the liquid state.

Air Transportation
Packaging hazardous materials for transport by aircraft is usually more restrictive than for ground transport. In addition, many carriers may also require a higher level of packaging safety than required by the U.S Dept. of Transportation (DOT) due to its unique system of moving packages.
Strong outer packaging that is intended for the transport of limited quantities of dangerous goods by air must also conform to the applicable provisions of 49 CFR §173.27. When a limited quantity of hazardous material packaged in a combination of packaging is intended for transportation aboard an aircraft, the inner and outer packaging must conform to the quantity limitations outlined in 49 CFR §173.27(f)(2) Table 3 (shown below).

Other Standards for Strong Outer Packaging
Packaging that meets the requirements of International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) Procedure 3A test requirements may qualify as “strong outer packaging.” ISTA Test Procedure 3A is a general simulation test for individually packaged products shipped through small parcel delivery systems. This test is appropriate for four types of commonly distributed parcels, transported by ground or air, including standard, small, flat and elongated packages.

ISTA Procedure 3A includes an optional test combining Random Vibration Under Low Pressure (which simulates high altitudes). This test procedure tests the container’s ability to hold a seal or closure and the retention of the liquids, powder or gaseous contents without leaking.
Some carriers, such as United Parcel Service of America, Inc. (UPS), require packages containing limited quantities of hazardous materials to have a minimum burst strength of 200 lbs, or qualify as a 32 Edge Crush Test (ECT) certified box. The box must also be of sufficient strength to protect the

Click Image to Enlarge

Click Image to Enlarge

contents while in transit.

Any non-specification package that displays the ISTA seal indicating the package has been tested and certified to ISTA Procedure 3A is not subject to the minimum ECT or burst strength requirements.
Regardless of what standard is used, shippers have a responsibility to ensure that the packaging used for the carriage of dangerous goods in limited quantities are capable of withstanding the forces that are typically encountered in transportation.

For additional information on limited quantity packaging, contact the U.S. Dept. of Transportation Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) website at http://phmsa.dot.gov/hazmat or ShipMate, Inc. at (310) 370-3600. Spray



The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced on Sept. 10 its final rule (HM-233E) detailing the agency’s new approach to processing hazardous materials transportation special permits and approvals. The intent of the rule is to streamline the hazmat special permits and approvals application process by incorporating new procedures for evaluating applications into the Hazardous Materials Regulations.

The rulemaking attempts to provide clarity on the application requirements for obtaining a hazardous material special permit and describes an online application process that is available to submit applications, all designed to ensure completeness of the applications submitted. The amendments to the Hazardous Materials Regulations (Part 107) include: (a) standard operating procedures to support the administration of the special permit and approval programs; and (b) criteria to support the evaluation of applications for special permits and/or approvals.

However, upon closer inspection, it is clear that the final rule does not change the requirements that apply to the petitioner. Rather, this administrative rule change simply describes the procedure the agency will take when reviewing applications for new approvals, requests for modification to existing permits and approvals and petitions for reconsideration for applications that have been denied.

PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez stated that “…these changes are consistent with PHMSA’s agency-wide initiative to identify opportunities to modernize, clarify and reduce burdens associated with our regulations while continuing to raise the bar on safety…”

It appears to me, however, that the only burden PHMSA’ Special Permits & Approvals Division will be reducing is its own.
PHMSA states in the preamble to the Final Rule:
“…[although the agency] continuously strives to improve the efficiency of its special permit and approval processing operations, it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure his or her application is correct and complete. PHMSA receives approximately 30,000 special permit and approval applications annually. One of the most effective ways to ensure efficient processing of an application is that it is complete. Past attempts by PHMSA to delay processing incomplete applications until it received the missing or corrected information from applicants resulted in significant application processing delays. If applicants are permitted to submit incomplete applications without any negative consequences, there is no incentive for applicants to submit complete and conforming applications. Requiring applications to be complete prior to processing will enhance PHMSA’s ability to process the applications in a timely manner.”

Clearly, PHMSA intends to reduce its backlog simply by denying applications, marking them as “incomplete.” Consequently, this will have a significant impact on applicants whose applications are deemed “incomplete,” for they will have to start all over again. This will result in further delays as it typically takes 180 days or more to process a routine request for a Special Permit. If the process must be started again, it may take a year or more to obtain the regulatory relief required.
In one of the many comments submitted by the Sporting Arms & Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, Inc. (SAAMI), it recommended that existing approvals be permitted to be modified slightly without having to “…go to the bottom of the stack with an additional 180-day waiting period,’’ as is currently required. They recommended that PHMSA resolve its recordkeeping problems ‘‘…rather than making companies resubmit complete data packages’’ as described in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) preamble. PHMSA responded that it does not currently have the resources to institute a separate processing method for routine and editorial revisions but would consider changes of this type as resources become available.
In several articles previously published (see “If You’re Planning on a Special Permit…Plan Early,” Spray, April 2013; and “Changes in the Approval Process,” Spray, June 2015), I warned that companies should be vigilant, plan accordingly and then submit only applications that are complete.
It’s probably appropriate to reiterate what the requirements for a complete application are: [reprinted from SPRAY, June 2015]

For Special Permits, applicants should provide the following:

  • Table of Contents;
  • Attached supporting documentation;
  • The Individual’s or Company’s Name, mailing address, physical address(es) of all known locations where the special permit would be used, e-mail address (if available), and telephone number of the applicant for the Technical Point of Contact;
  • Name of the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or President, or ranking officer;
    The Dun & Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (D-U-N-S) identifier;
  • A signed letter (on company letterhead) from foreign applicants designating a U.S. agent, which includes the full contact information for the agent;
  • For manufacturing permits, the name and street address of each of the facilities of the applicant where manufacturing under the special permit will occur and the symbol of the packaging manufacturer (“M” number), if applicable.
  •  For companies requiring registration with PHMSA, the registration number, or the name of the company to which the registration number is assigned, if it is different from the applicant.

The application must also include information required in sections 49 CFR §107.105(c) and (d) including a description of special permit proposal and a detailed justification of special permit proposal.
Competent Authority Approvals
For Competent Authority Approval application, consider providing all of the information described herein for special permits, as well as the following:

  • Identify the section of the chapter under which the registration, report or application is made;
  • If a report is required by an approval, a registration or a special permit, identify the approval, registration or special permit number;
  • Provide the name, street and mailing addresses, e-mail address optional, and telephone number of the person on whose behalf the registration, report or application is made and, if different, the person making the filing;
  • If the person on whose behalf the filing is made is not a resident of the United States, provide a designation of agent for service in accordance with 49 CFR §105.40;
  • Provide a description of the activity for which the registration or report is required; and
  • Provide additional information as requested by the Associate Administrator, if the Associate Administrator determines that a filing lacks pertinent information or otherwise does not comply with applicable requirements.
  • In addition, the applicant must provide the following:
    A description of the activity for which the approval is required;
  • The proposed duration of the approval;
  • The transport mode or modes affected, as applicable;
  • Any additional information specified in the section containing the approval; and

For an approval which provides exceptions from regulatory requirements or prohibitions:

  • Identification of any increased risk to safety or property that may result if the approval is granted, and specification of the measures that the applicant considers necessary or appropriate to address that risk; and
  • Substantiation, with applicable analyses or evaluations, if appropriate, demonstrating that the proposed activity will achieve a level of safety that is at least equal to that required by the regulation.

The final rule can be viewed at the Federal Register link here:
https://goo.gl/NbEC1K Spray

topicsThe terrible tragedy that occurred last August in Tianjin, China highlights the need for companies to take a critical (but careful) look at the storage and handling of hazardous materials within their manufacturing sites and warehouses. Rapid growth, lack of oversight and lax safety procedures are being blamed for the blasts that killed more than 150 people and injured hundreds of others. Additionally, there are growing concerns regarding the extent and level of soil and water contamination that may have long lasting negative consequences for the environment.

A number of reports suggest that hundreds of metric tons of flammable gas, water reactive chemicals, toxic solids, strong acids, flammable liquids and perhaps even high explosives may have been stored in the port complex. Calcium carbide, which was reported to have been stored in large quantities at the Rui Hai International Logistics warehouse, is water-reactive and produces highly flammable acetylene gas. The facility also stored as much as 700 tons of sodium cyanide, a highly toxic solid which, when mixed with strong acids, reacts rapidly to create hydrogen cyanide, an extremely toxic gas.

Although the exact cause of the initial and subsequent blasts are not known, chemical incompatibility, coupled with an excessive quantity of dangerous substances stored in the warehouses and port facilities, may be the culprit. If not the cause, it certainly worsened the disaster.

Rui Hai International Logistics warehouse“Extremely Profound Lessons”
China’s President Xi Jinping has urged Chinese safety officials to learn “extremely profound lessons” from this and other accidents. Perhaps we should heed his advice as well.

The loss of so many lives should cause us to reflect on the lessons to be learned. Unfortunately, many of these lessons are learned the hard way. Do you remember the Bhopal Incident or what happened on board ValuJet Flight 592? How about more obscure incidents such as the 1982 K-Mart fire in Falls Township, NJ?

Granted, the readers of this article are probably not shipping or storing highly toxic solids, water-reactive materials or even corrosive liquids. More likely than not, however, readers will use or store highly flammable liquids or flammable gases under pressure. As such, an accident of this magnitude is extremely unlikely, but aerosols and flammable liquids can be dangerous nonetheless.

Therefore, I suggest that aerosol manufacturers, distributors and storage facilities take a hard look at their operations, equipment and practices. Are you prepared? Are you properly equipped? Do you store quantities of compressed gases and flammable liquids in excess of that amount allowed by the fire marshal? Do you have adequate fire protection? Are incompatible materials stored in close proximity to your goods?  Have your fire alarms, equipment and gas house protection devices been properly inspected and calibrated?

Companies are urged to closely review their Tier II chemical inventory, review and exercise their Emergency Response Plans, conduct a detailed fire and life safety audit of their facility and draft a Housekeeping Plan or Chemical Management Plan if not done already. Readers are also urged to review the requirements of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 30B as well. For example, NFPA 30B requires segregated storage of Level Two and Three aerosols in general purpose warehouses, special fencing around these materials, separation from other combustible materials, sprinkler systems that extend beyond the storage area, automatic self-closing doors and other requirements to prevent a dangerous chemical reaction or fire and to control it, if one does occur.

State fire codes, the International Building Code and NFPA 30B include provisions for the storage and display of aerosols. Chapter 28, Section 2806.3.3 of the Oregon Fire Code, for example, states that “Level Two and Level Three aerosol display and merchandising areas shall be separated from each other by not less than 25 feet,” and that Level Two and Level Three aerosol display and merchandising areas shall be separated from flammable and combustible liquids storage and display areas by a minimum distance of 25 feet horizontally, or separated by a noncombustible partition that extends 18 inches above the merchandise.

Unfortunately, however, these codes do not include detailed instructions on the separation required from oxidizers, acids or other incompatible dangerous goods. A facility might then look to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s (DOT) Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) for guidance. Although the HMR governs transportation, the term “transportation” is defined as including “storage incident to transportation.” Consequently, the wise safety manager should consider reviewing the segregation requirements outlined within this important reference. A quick review of the segregation table in 49 CFR §177.848 reveals that flammable gases of Class 2.1 (which includes most Level Two and Level Three aerosols) may not be loaded, transported or stored together in the same transport vehicle or storage facility during the course of transportation with high explosives of Divisions 1.1, 1.2 or 1.3; Blasting Agents of Division 1.5; and certain toxic gases of Class 2.3. Additionally, these materials may not be loaded, transported or stored together in the same transport vehicle or storage facility during the course of transportation unless separated in a manner that, in the event of leakage from packages under conditions normally incident to transportation, commingling of hazardous materials would not occur.

Sounds easy enough. However, when you review the requirements of 49 CFR §176.83(b), the segregation requirements for ocean transport are a bit more restrictive. Class 2.1 flammable gases must be stowed “away from” or three meters (10 feet) from dangerous goods of Class 4.1 (flammable solids) and Class eight (corrosive liquids and solids). These articles must be stowed “separated from or six meters (20 feet) from dangerous goods of Classes 1.4, 1.6 (low explosives), 4.2 (spontaneously combustibles), 4.3 (water reactive materials), 5.2 (organic peroxides), and radioactive materials of Class seven. Flammable gases must be stowed 24 meters (80 feet) from incompatible dangerous goods in Classes 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 1.5 (high explosives and blasting agents), and 6.2 (infectious substances).

The use of the more restrictive segregation table in 49 CFR §176.83(b) may offer some good guidance on separating incompatible goods, thereby preventing dangerous interactions and possible catastrophes like the one that so unfortunately occurred in August.

For questions regarding the segregation of dangerous goods in storage or transit, or to receive a copy of these segregation tables, contact the author by e-mail: steve@shipmate.com or by phone at (310) 370-3600.

topicsIn the October 2014 issue of Spray, I described the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, HM-253, published on Aug. 11, 2014 (79 FR 46748), which proposed revisions to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) for return shipments of certain hazardous materials by motor vehicle, commonly referred to as the “Return Logistics Rule.”

In this proposal, PHMSA defined “reverse logistics” for dangerous goods that are intended to be returned to, or between, a vendor, manufacturer, distributor or other person for the purpose of returning for credit, recalling product, replacement or other reasons. PHMSA proposed the creation of a new section within the HMR (49 CFR §173.157—Reverse Logistics—General Requirements & Exceptions) that would provide an exception for certain hazardous materials that are transported in a manner that meets the definition of “reverse logistics.”

However, it appears that some companies may have assumed, erroneously, that the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was, in fact, a Final Rule and have prepared shipments for return to manufacturers and distributors under the relaxed rules.

I recently intercepted a fairly large shipment of aerosol cans that were intended to be shipped back to the supplier under these provisions. Fortunately, they were not put into the transportation chain and are still awaiting disposition pending the approval of the DOT Final Rule, which is not expected until the third or fourth quarter of this calendar year.

A word of caution here: know the Golden Rule! The Golden Rule is it’s not a rule until it’s a final rule.

It typically takes a year or more for a proposed rule to become a final rule. The DOT is generally required (with a few limited exceptions) to publish an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), followed by a comment period, after which the DOT takes into account comments from the regulated industry and public, petitions for reconsideration, or letters in support of the proposed rule.

Following that, the agency will then publish a Proposed Rule that takes into account the comments received, additional proposed changes and harmonized codes (if any). Another comment period is generally offered following the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and then the Final Rule is published. In most cases, the DOT will offer a generous “phase in period” of between six months and three years. In the case of the changes to the Consumer Commodity, ORM-D requirements, the DOT offered a very generous extension of time (eight years) until the mandatory compliance date.

Current Regulations
Currently, the HMR do not provide any specific exceptions for shipments made in the reverse logistics supply chain. Consequently, all hazardous materials shippers should be forewarned that consignments from a retail outlet back to the distribution facility are subject to the same requirements as when they were originally shipped. The retail outlet is responsible for ensuring that the goods are properly marked, labeled, described, packed, packaged, stowed, segregated and declared for transport.

The penalties for violating these rules can be quite substantial. Although one might be able to successfully argue that it is the intent of the DOT to relax these rules, a civil penalty may still be assessed. Any penalties under the current guidelines would, presumably, be mitigated downward, but not dismissed outright. In other words, if you jump the gun, you can still be disqualified.

Reverse Logistics Rule Summary
Even though the proposed rule was already published in Spray, I would encourage readers to go back to that October 2014 article and review the proposed Reverse Logistics Rule. I’ve offered a quick summary of the rulemaking below just in case.

PHMSA will create a new section, 49 CFR §173.157—Reverse Logistics—General Requirements & Exceptions, which authorizes a limited number of hazardous materials, including:

(1) Division 1.4S and 1.4G fireworks, flares and signals and ammunition;

(2) A Class 3, 8, 9, Division 4.1, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1, 6.2 material contained in a packaging having a gross mass or capacity in each inner packaging not exceeding:

(i) 0.5 kg or 0.5 L for a Packing Group I material;

(ii) 1.0 kg or 1 L for a Packing Group II;

(iii) 5kg or 5L for a Packing Group III, or ORM–D material;

(iv) 30 L for a diluted mixture, not to exceed 2% concentration, of a Class Three, Eight or Nine material or a Division 6.1 material;

(3) A Division 2.1 or 2.2 material in a cylinder or aerosol container with a gross weight not over 30kg. For the purposes of this section, a cylinder or aerosol container may be assumed to meet the definition of a Division 2.1 or 2.2 materials, respectively, even if the exact pressure is unknown; and

(4) A Division 4.3 material in Packing Group II or Ill contained in a packaging having a gross capacity not exceeding 1L.

All packaging must be leak tight for liquids and gases, sift-proof for solids, and be securely closed, secured against shifting and protected against damage. All Inner packaging must be secured against movement within the outer package and protected against damage under conditions normally incident to transportation. For liquids, the inner packaging must be leak-proof, and the outer packaging must contain sufficient absorbent material to absorb the entire contents of the inner packaging. For solids, inner packaging must be sift-proof.

In addition, each material must be packaged in the manufacturer’s original packaging if available, or a packaging of equal or greater strength and integrity. Outer packaging is not required for receptacles (e.g., cans and bottles) that are secured against shifting in cages, carts, bins, boxes or compartments. Compromised receptacles must be placed in an inner packaging or outer packing that will prevent spillage in transportation.

Aerosols must be packed to prevent inadvertent discharge of the contents from the aerosol packaging during transport. Each aerosol container must be secured with a cap to protect the valve stem. Other cylinders or pressure vessels containing a Division 2.1 or 2.2 materials, such as DOT–39 cylinders and cylinders containing limited quantities of compressed gases, must conform to the packaging, qualification, maintenance, and use requirements of the HMR.

Hazard Communication
The outer packaging, other than a cylinder shipped as a single packaging, must be marked with a common name or proper shipping name to identify the hazardous material it contains.

PHMSA will require that each person who offers or transports a hazardous material under the reverse logistics exception must be familiar with the requirements of 49 CFR §173.157.

Employees that prepare reverse logistics shipments, as defined in 49 CFR §171.8 of the HMR, subject to the exceptions in this new section, are not subject to the training requirements of this subchapter provided:

(1) The employer has identified the hazardous materials subject to the reverse logistics rule, has verified compliance with the appropriate conditions and limitations and has provided training and supervision to persons preparing or offering these shipments for transportation, or transporting shipments in reverse logistics to make the provisions of this rule effective.

(2) The employee has received appropriate training applicable to the material to be offered in transport in accordance with the provisions of this rule. The training must enable the employee to recognize the hazardous materials, identify the hazards associated with the applicable material and prepare the shipment as provided by this section.

(3) The employer must maintain a record of those employees receiving the training required by this section; and

(4) The operator of a motor vehicle that contains a reverse logistics material must be informed of the presence of the hazardous material and must be informed of the requirements of this section.

Other Requirements & Exceptions
A reverse logistics material may be transported by motor vehicle with other hazardous materials without affecting its eligibility for the exceptions provided by this rule.

Hazardous materials that may react dangerously with one another may not be transported in the same outer packaging. However, different hazard classes of materials in reverse logistics may be transported in the same cargo transport unit provided that they are adequately separated to prevent commingling of materials that may result in a dangerous reaction in the event of an accidental release during transport.

Shipments made under the Reverse Logistics Rule are still subject to the incident reporting requirements in 49 CFR §171.15, but shipments prepared, offered for transportation or transported under this exception are not subject to any other requirements of the DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations.

Again, it’s wise to remember the Golden Rule…it’s not a rule until it’s a final rule.

For questions regarding this rule, its implementation or impact, or to obtain a copy of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, or to receive a notice when the Final Rulemaking is published, contact the author by e-mail: steve@shipmate.com or by phone at +1 (310) 370-3600.