Determining a HazMat Expect the Unexpected
May 1, 2013 | Our contact with hazardous materials (HazMat for short) and dangerous goods may be more frequent than expected. The Department of Transportation defines a hazardous material as, “a substance or material capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, or property, when transported in commerce.” But did you know that many other federal agencies have their own definition for determining when a material is hazardous?
The DOT’s regulations (found in 49 CFR) decide what is hazardous for transportation. The EPA’s regulations can be found in 40 CFR, OSHA’s regulations can be found in 29 CFR, and the CPSC regulations are found in 16 CFR. Because different agencies have their own regulatory standards, a broad spectrum of items are considered hazardous for a variety of different reasons. From diving sticks to perfumes, baby rattles and bouncers to doll accessories, flashlights to computer parts, and more – some of the most unassuming items are considered hazardous. If these everyday items are unexpected HazMats, the list of items containing chemicals would also seem to be vast. After all, they actually contain materials we would expect to be hazardous.
When these items are shipped, they are subject to a series of regulations. Because the DOT governs how items are stored, shipped, and transported, their regulations affect manufacturers, distributors, and yes, even retailers. But why are they subject to transportation regulations? If their products (in the event of an accident) cause a hazard, the effects could be detrimental; therefore, they must be stored, packed, and shipped properly.
Because many everyday items are considered HazMats, it is important to familiarize ourselves with these items, their material make-up, and how they need to be treated. Material Safety Data Sheets/MSDS (soon to be called Safety Data Sheets/SDS) are good indicators of the safety requirements for processes and procedures for work involved with HazMats.
By knowing the chemical makeup of the item, the hazards of the material, and how the item should be shipped, the responsible party (supplier, manufacturer, retailer) is able to comply with regulations and take the necessary steps toward achieving compliance.
This classification process is something our experts do in house. The bulk of the process involves identifying the product, researching the MSDS, determining the hazard class and packaging/shipping requirements.
This is a critical component of the shipping process and knowing exactly what products pose hazards when stored and in transport. If you are not familiar with products you ship, get familiar today – expect the unexpected when considering the types of hazards that are posed by items you come in contact with every day.