What is Hazmat?

July 17, 2020

Written By: Translogistics

  • The Department of Transportation defines a Hazardous Material as any substance or material that could adversely affect the safety of the public, handlers or carriers during transportation
  • As these products can be very dangerous to handle, there are strict regulations as to how these products are handled by shippers and trucking companies
  • Each product that is considered hazardous is identified by a UN number, which is a number from UN0001 to UN3500
  • While some hazardous products possess unique qualities and are classified under their own UN number, other products that are similar in qualities may be classified under the same UN number – as an example, Flammable Liquids, not other specified, share the UN1993 number
  • Each UN number also has a Hazard Identifier associated with it – A Hazard Identifier is a collection of Hazardous classes and subdivisions that identify why a product is hazardous and what regulations are associated with handling the product – some are much more dangerous than others, such as Class 7 Radioactive Materials, and are very highly regulated - there are 9 general Hazardous Classes as identified in the table below:
  • Shippers of Hazardous Materials must follow strict guidelines when handling and preparing shipments for transportation – they must also complete a Shipper’s Declaration for Hazardous Goods.
  • Drivers who handle Hazardous Materials MUST be Hazmat Certified to transport the materials – they must pass a very thorough background check by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in addition to passing a difficult test from the Department of Transportation to become a HazMat certified driver
  • All trailers that contain Hazardous Materials must have a placard on the side of the trailer indicating what Class of Hazardous Material is being transported – a placard is a diamond shaped metal plate that is affixed to the side of the trailer – examples of placards are below:
  • There are more rules and regulations in place when a shipment is considered Hazardous Waste – although it sounds much more frightening, Hazardous Waste is nothing more than Hazardous Material that has been used or went through some sort of manufacturing process
  • An example is motor oil – when it is manufactured and shipped, it is classified as a Hazardous Material – when it was used in an engine and drained during an oil change, it becomes Hazardous Waste

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