Hazmat labels play a monumental role in the safe transportation of hazardous materials. US DOT’S Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) 49 CFR regulations require hazmat shippers to properly mark and label all packages containing regulated hazardous materials.
These hazmat labels provide critical information about what’s inside of a bulk or non-bulk package. Emergency responders, supply chain personnel, retailers, and all employees who handle packages rely on hazmat labels to call out the hazard of the material. When everyone is informed about what’s in your package, they are better prepared to handle, store, and transport it safely and in compliance with applicable regulations.
Two Hazmat Label Rules Every Employee Should Know
When it comes to affixing hazmat labels to packages containing hazardous materials, there are two major rules that shippers must follow. These are not
the only rules for hazmat labels—but if these two things are not done properly, the whole process is compromised.
Every worker who is responsible for marking and labeling hazmat packages—or accepting hazardous materials for transport—should know these first two rules by heart.
Scroll down for the hazmat label rules that every hazmat employee should know.
Hazmat labels must be printed on or affixed to a surface OTHER THAN THE BOTTOM of the package or containment devices containing the hazardous material
(49 CFR 172.406(a)(1)(i)).
If hazmat labels are affixed to the bottom of a package, they won’t be seen by the supply chain workers who need them. Personnel may not even know that the package contains a hazardous material—which could lead to problems during transportation and storage. If two incompatible packages of hazardous materials are placed too close to each other in a truck or a warehouse, a release could cause them to mix and catalyze a dangerous and deadly chemical reaction.
Hazmat labels must be located on the same surface of the package and near the proper shipping name marking, if the package dimensions are adequate (49 CFR 172.406(a)(1)(i)).
The goal here is for all critical information about the contents of the package to appear together
. No one should have to rotate your package like a Rubik’s Cube to see the hazmat labels and markings needed to transport or store it safely.
Placing all hazmat labels and markings on the same face of the package make it possible to process this information quickly. That can be absolutely critical in an emergency situation.
That’s Not All: More Rules for Hazmat Labels
While these two must-know requirements are arguably the most important, hazmat labels are subject to many other requirements
DOT lays out size specifications, design elements, and rules for properly placing labels in 49 CFR Part 172, Subpart E. We will cover all that and more in Hazmat Labels Basics Part 2.