Why Hazardous Materials Labels and Packages Matter

October 25, 2022

Transporting hazardous materials is dangerous as many things can go wrong with spillage, leaks, breakage, and handling. Even properly packaged and labeled hazardous material still needs care as extremely hot or cold temperatures can also lead to danger.

Federal Government Regulations for HAZMAT Labels and Packages

As a result, the U.S. Department of Transportation has created the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA) as codified in 49 U.S.C. CFR for Performance-Oriented Packaging for labeling hazardous material packaging. These rigorous standards are in place to ensure the safe transporting and handling of HAZMAT.

Per the regulations, HAZMAT labels must use correct wording, conform to the DOT’s specifications, and be durable so nothing can scratch them or cause them to fall off.

U.S. DOT categorizes hazardous materials into nine classes:

  • Explosives
  • Gases
  • Flammable liquid
  • Flammable solids
  • Oxidizing substances; organic peroxides
  • Poisonous (toxic) and infectious substances
  • Radioactive material
  • Corrosives
  • Miscellaneous dangerous goods

Clearly, HAZMAT packages can contain dangerous items.

Why HAZMAT Need Proper Labels and Packages

Every hazardous material has different requirements for its safe and proper handling and transporting. Hence, they need correct identification, labeling, and packaging.

Incorrect labels can cause the following:

  • Delays in shipping
  • Injuries
  • Fines
  • Civil and criminal penalties

If a label gets destroyed or falls off during transportation, the handlers won’t know how to properly manage the package. That is why it’s important for labels to meet the stringent requirements and withstand peeling, fading, and harsh environments.

This is an area where you want to spend your money’s worth and avoid cutting corners. Failing to comply comes at a far higher cost than having the right labels and packaging.

Where to Learn More About HAZMAT Labeling and Packaging

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a useful article on how to comply with federal hazardous materials regulations and provides a guide on hazardous materials markings, labeling and placarding with images of how the labels should appear.

Companies needing to transport hazardous materials can obtain packaging materials and labels through commercial resources. If you have questions about transporting hazardous materials, contact the Hazardous Materials Information Center.