Handle With Care: What You and Your Carrier Need to Know About Shipping Hazardous Materials

Safety is and will always be our top priority – both for the goods we transport, and the people who move them. That’s why we go to great lengths to ensure that we conform to all federal and state regulations whenever we’re moving hazardous materials.

But as we all know, ensuring safety is a team sport, and requires the help of everyone involved – from start to finish. Is your carrier aware of their requirements for shipping your goods? Are they making you aware of your responsibilities as a shipper? What you don’t know could put you at risk for serious fines or even criminal penalties, so make sure that you’re up-to-speed on what you need to know to move your materials.

What Your Shipper Needs to Know

First and foremost, the shipper needs to ensure that the transport company has all the information they need to move the materials safely. Their role is to correctly and thoroughly package, label, and describe the contents, as well as to provide and retain records of all necessary and relevant documentation, as per Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides an overview of relevant information on their website, but here are some key points:

  • The employer and any staff who are involved in transporting hazardous materials (including preparing shipments for third parties and anyone who advises as to how to prepare or package such shipments) must have completed the necessary training in handling hazardous materials.
  • The shipper must determine whether the material being shipped meets the definition of “hazardous material.”
  • The shipper must provide the proper shipping name for the material, its hazard class/division , its identification number, its hazard warning label, proper packaging, all necessary and/or relevant markings, shipping papers, emergency response information, emergency response telephone number, certification, compatibility, blocking and bracing, placarding, and incident reporting.

What Your Carrier Needs To Know

The carrier’s responsibilities overlap those of the shipper, in many ways because both need to work together to ensure the safety of the delivery. Additional oversight is a key part of the checks-and-balances protocol. Again, FMCSA’s website provides a thorough overview of all requirements, but here is a brief overview of some of the key points for carriers:

  • Carriers of hazardous materials are responsible for: shipping papers, placard and markings for their vehicle, loading and unloading, compatibility, blocking and bracing, incident reporting, security plan, and employee training.
  • Just like the employee and employees shipping the goods, the carrier must be certified to transport hazardous materials by having completed all necessary training and certification.
  • Carriers must also ensure that their vehicle is in proper mechanical and physical condition to safely transport the goods, and check to make sure that the shipper has properly and adequately packaged and described the contents of the shipment.
  • Ensuring safe transport is a job in which the shipper, carrier, and receiver play an important role. Are you equipping your carrier with the information and resources they need to ensure safety, and are they doing their part?

    Steve Wadhams

    Steve Wadhams

    As Co-owner and President, Steve oversees three trucking divisions, 700 employees, and 300+ trucks. The dedication, integrity, and personal touch that helped his father succeed remain the cornerstone of Wadhams Enterprises. By the 1980s, he and his brother had taken over an active leadership role, focusing on acquisitions and purchasing assets and operating authorities. They have seen the company grow from $4 million to $96 million in 2014. To fulfill Wadhams’ mission to be the “Carrier of Choice, Employer of Choice,” Steve actively seeks out opportunities for continue growth and improvement for his people and his fleet.