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Are You Purchasing Hazmat and Don't Know It


Robert J. Truck, CECM, CHP
Robert J. Truck, CECM, CHP, President and CEO, Logistical Outsourcing Group, Fairless Hills, PA 19030, 800/220-1091,

85th Annual International Conference Proceedings - 2000 

(Hazardous Materials Transportation Act Key Definitions)

Abstract: In this hazardous materials safety training workshop, Department of Transportation (DOT) rules and regulations concerning the handling, storage, and transportation of hazardous materials will be presented. With special emphasis is placed on identifying what constitutes hazardous materials, the goal of this workshop is threefold:

  • Increase your awareness of the purpose of Hazardous Materials Regulations and the hazard classification requirements.
  • Ensure that everyone involved in the transportation of hazardous materials utilizes uniform procedures.
  • Promote the highest degree of safety in the transportation of hazardous material.

Many state and federal regulations and agencies are actively concerned with protecting employees. The involvement of so many agencies results in a variety of practical definitions for the same word. This is especially true of the term "hazardous." Understanding the differences in terminology is essential. This Proceedings paper outlines the key definitions in the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.

Hazardous Materials are materials the Secretary of Transportation finds that the transportation of a particular quantity or form may pose an unreasonable risk to health and safety or property. The materials may include, but are not limited to1 explosives1 radioactive materials, etiologic agents, flammable liquids or solids, combustible liquids or solids, poisons, oxidizing or corrosive material, and compressed gases.

Hazmat Employee means an individual employed by a Hazmat employer and who in the course of employment works directly with hazardous materials. This, at a minimum, includes those who

  1. load, unload, or handle hazardous materials;
  2. recondition or test containers, drums, and packages represented for use in the transportation of hazardous materials:
  3. prepare hazardous materials for transportation:
  4. are responsible for the safety of the transportation of hazardous materials; and/or
  5. operate a vehicle used to transport hazardous materials.

Hazmat Employer - means a person

  1. (i) who transports in commerce hazardous materials,

    (ii) who causes to be transported or shipped in commerce hazardous materials, or

    (iii) who reconditions or tests containers, drums, and packages represented for use in the transportation of hazardous materials; and

  2. who utilizes one or more of its employees in connection with such activity. Such term includes an owner-operator of a motor vehicle which transports in commerce hazardous materials... any department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States, a State, a political subdivision of a State, or an Indian Tribe.

Person means an individual, firm, co-partnership, corporation, company, association, joint-stock association, including any trustee, receiver, assignee, or similar representative thereof, or government, Indian tribe, or agency or instrumentality of any government or Indian tribe. The term does not include the United States Postal Service or... any agency or instrumentality of the Federal Government.

Transport or Transportation means any movement of property by any mode, and any loading, unloading, or storage incidental thereto.

Preemption General Rule: Except as provided in this regulation and unless otherwise authorized by Federal law, any law, regulation, order, ruling, provision, or other requirement of a State or political subdivision thereof or an Indian tribe, which concerns a subject listed in subparagraph (B) and which is not substantively the same as any provision of this Act or any regulation under such provision which concerns such subject, is preempted.


DOT Participation in International Forums - Subject to guidance and direction from the Secretary of State, the Secretary shall participate in international forums that establish or recommend mandatory standards and requirements for the transportation of hazardous materials in international commerce.

Consultation - The Secretary may consult with interested agencies to assure that regulations issued shall be consistent with standards adopted by international bodies applicable to the transportation of hazardous materials.


Mandatory Filings - Each person who carries out one or more of the following activities shall file with the Secretary a registration statement in accordance with the provisions of this subsection.

  1. Transporting or causing to be transported or shipped in commerce highway-route controlled quantities of radioactive materials, more than 25 kilograms of class A or class B explosives in a motor vehicle, rail car, or transport container, or more than I liter per package of a hazardous material which has been designated by the Secretary as extremely toxic by inhalation.
  2. Transporting or causing to be transported or shipped in commerce a hazardous material in a bulk package, container, or tank as defined by the Secretary if the package, container, or tank has a capacity of 3,500 or more gallons or more than 468 cubic feet.
  3. Transporting or causing to be transported or shipped in commerce a shipment of 5,000 pounds or more of a class of a hazardous material for which placarding of a vehicle, rail car, or freight container is required in accordance with the regulations issued under this title.



Any person who is determined by the Secretary, after notice and an opportunity for a hearing, to have knowingly committed an act which is a violation of a provision of this title, or order, or regulation issued under this title, shall be liable to the Untied State for a civil penalty. Whoever knowingly commits an act which is a violation of any order or regulation, applicable to any person who transports or causes to be transported or shipped hazardous materials, shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $27,500 and not less than $250 for each violation, and if any such violation is a continuing one, each day of violation or any order or regulation applicable to any person who manufactures, fabricates, marks, maintains, reconditions, repairs, or tests a package or container which is represented, marked, certified, or sold by such person for use in the transportation in commerce of hazardous materials shall be subject to a civil penalty of no more than $27,500 and not less than $250 for each violation.

Act Knowingly

For purposes of this section, a person shall be considered to have acted knowingly if-

  1. such person has actual knowledge of the facts giving rise to the violation, or
  2. a reasonable person acting in the circumstances and exercising due care would have such knowledge.


A person who knowingly violates section 105(f) of this title or willfully violates a provision of this title or an order or regulation issued under this title shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.


Designates the hazards class and/or division of each proper shipping name, or the word


If forbidden, the material may not be offered for transport unless diluted, stabilized, or incorporated in a device and classed according to the definitions in the Hazardous Materials Regulations.

Class 1 (49 CFR 173.50) includes explosive substances - materials which can detonate or are subject to very rapid combustion. Class I products include dynamite, fireworks, and ammunition Class I is divided into six divisions:

Division 1.1 - Explosives with a mass explosion hazard

Division 1.2 - Explosives with a projection hazard

Division 1.3 - Explosives with predominately a fire hazard

Division 1.4 - Explosives with no significant blast hazard

Division 1.5 - Very insensitive explosives; blasting agents

Division 1.6 - Extremely insensitive detonating substances

Class 2 (49 CFR 173.115) includes gases and is comprised of three divisions

(4 in Canada):

Division 2.1 - Flammable Gases (i.e. propane)

Division 2.2 - Non-flammable Compressed Gases (i.e. nitrogen)

Division 2.3 - Poisonous Gases (i.e. chlorine)

Class 3 (49 CFR 173.120) includes both flammable and combustible liquids.

Flammable Liquids have a flashpoint of not more than 141 degrees Fahrenheit (i.e. gasoline and acetone).

Combustible Liquids have a flashpoint greater than 141 degrees Fahrenheit, up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (i.e. fuel oil).

Certain flammable liquids with a flashpoint of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more may be reclassed as combustible liquids, and certain combustible liquids in non-bulk packaging are not subject to these regulations.

Class 4 (49 CFR 173.124) is comprised of three divisions:

Division 4.1 - Flammable Solids (i.e. nitrocellulose)

Division 4.2 - Spontaneously Combustible (i.e. phosphorous)

Division 4.3 - Dangerous When Wet (i.e. sodium and calcium carbide)

Class 5 (49 CFR 173.127 & 173.125) has two divisions and includes materials which cause or enhance the combustion of other materials.

Division 5.1 - Oxidizer (i.e. hydrogen peroxide)

Division 5.2 - Organic Peroxide (i.e. benzoyl peroxide)

Class 6 (49 CFR 173.132 & 173.134) is comprised of two divisions:

Division 6.1 (1 & II) - Poisonous or Toxic Materials are liquids or solids which are known to be so toxic to humans as to afford a hazard to health during transportation (i.e., sodium cyanide). Materials in Packing Groups I and II require the skull and crossbones POISON label.

Division 6.1 (III) - materials need a Harmful, Keep Away from Foodstuffs label.

Division 6.2 - Infectious Substances are materials which may cause disease in humans or animals (i.e. regulated medical waste).

Class 7 (49 CFR 173.403) includes radioactive materials which can cause burns and other injuries (i.e. cobalt and uranium).

Class 8 (49 CFR 173.136) consists of corrosive liquids and solids which cause visible destruction or irreversible alternations in human skin tissue at the site of contact, and liquids that have a severe corrosion rate on steel or aluminum (i.e. sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide)

Class 9 (49 CFR 173.140) includes materials which have an anesthetic, noxious, or other similar property which could cause extreme annoyance or discomfort to flight crew members so as to prevent the correct performance of assigned duties certain hazardous substances or hazardous wastes; certain marine pollutants; certain elevated temperature materials.

Other Regulated Materials (ORM-D) (49 CFR 173.144) means a material such as a consumer commodity, which, although otherwise subject to the regulations of this subchapter, presents limited hazard during transportation due to its form, quantity, and packaging. It must be a material for which exceptions are provided in the §172.101 Table. Each ORM-D materials and category of ORM-D material is listed in §172.101 Table.


Lists the 4-digit ID number assigned to that proper shipping name.

These 4-digit numbers provide quick identification of hazardous materials. It is critical to emergency responders that the numbers are accurate and that they are correctly written and legibly displayed.

  1. "1UN" indicates that the material is appropriate for international and domestic transportation.

  2. "NA" indicates that the material is appropriate for domestic transport only.


Specifies the packing group. The Department of Transportation requires the assignment of a Packing Group for most hazardous materials. Some materials are assigned to more than one PG; in which case, the shipper must determine the correct PG for the hazardous materials.

There are three Packing Groups, each of which denotes a level of danger.

  • Packing Group I (PG I)  - Great Danger

  • Packing Group II (PG II)  - Medium Danger

  • Packing Group Ill (PG III)  - Minor Danger

Class 2 and Class 7 and ORM-D materials do not have Packing Group designations.


Specifies the hazard warning labels required to be applied to each package of hazardous material(s), unless excepted.

If two labels are listed, the first is the primary hazard and the next is the subsidiary hazard.

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