Q. Our pick-and-pack operation ships lots of different kinds of hazardous materials in many arrangements. Some of our boxes have up arrows, some do not. When do we need to use up arrows? Is there any time we can’t use them?
A. Orientation arrows, or “up arrows,” are required whenever you ship hazardous materials in one of these packages:
- Cryogenic receptacles
- Vented single packagings
- Non-bulk, combination packagings containing liquid hazardous materials
Whenever a package requires orientation arrows, the shipper must ensure that the arrows appear on two opposite vertical sides of the package, with the arrows pointing upwards. The arrows must be red or black on a white or suitable contrasting background. And while a rectangular border is optional, placing a line below the arrows is not.
The following packages do not require orientation arrows:
- A non-bulk package whose inner packagings are
- Cylinders, or
- Hermetically sealed
- Limited quantities of flammable liquids
- For air shipments, inner packagings cannot be more than 120 mL (4 fluid oz.), and absorptive filling is required
- For all other shipments, inner packagings cannot be more than 1 L
- Liquids contained in leak-tight manufactured articles (e.g., thermometers)
- Liquid infectious substances in primary receptacles not more than 50 mL (1.7 oz.)
- Class 7 radioactive materials in Type A, IP-2, IP-3, Type B(U), or Type B(M) packages.
Unlike other hazmat markings, the Department of Transportation permits orientation arrows on packages even when they are not required [see PHMSA Interpretation #03-0238].
In order to simplify matters, many shippers purchase packages with pre-printed orientation arrows and use them for all hazmat shipments, whether they are solids or liquids.