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The Materials of Trade Exception

Posted on 4/17/2012 by James Griffin

Q. I was told I can move hazardous materials in my own vehicle (like cans of paint, jugs of gasoline, batteries, etc.) without being subject to DOT’s hazmat regulations. Is this true?
A. Absolutely! Based on what kind and how much hazardous material you are moving, you may be able to take advantage of the Materials of Trade (MOT) exception [49 CFR 173.6]. This rule allows you to transport small amounts of certain low hazard materials by motor vehicle without having to comply with the bulk of the Hazardous Materials Regulations.
Definition of Material of Trade
Let’s start with the definition of a material of trade. A MOT is “… a hazardous material, other than a hazardous waste, that is carried on a motor vehicle:
  1. For the purpose of protecting the health and safety of the motor vehicle operator or passengers (such as a fire extinguisher in case of fire);
  2. For the purpose of supporting the operation or maintenance of a motor vehicle (such as extra gasoline in the truck in case you run out); or
  3. By a private motor carrier (including vehicles operated by a rail carrier) in direct support of a principal business that is other than transportation.”
The first two criteria are largely self-explanatory, and rarely contentious. Most questions are about the third kind of material carried “in direct support of a principal business.” The classic example is fuel, fertilizer, cleaning supplies, and paint carried in a gardener’s van to a job site.
Supporting a principal business can also include a sales rep carrying product samples in their personal vehicle, a technician taking a quality control sample to a laboratory, or even local deliveries.
Materials of Trade
Materials NOT Allowed as MOTsSmall Materials of Trade Containers
Some materials are too dangerous to be allowed as materials of trade; they include:
  • Class 1 explosives,
  • Division 2.3 poison gases,
  • Self-reactive materials (Division 4.1),
  • Division 4.2 spontaneously combustible materials,
  • Division 4.3 dangerous when wet materials at the Packing Group I level,
  • Poison by inhalation materials (Division 6.1),
  • Class 7 radioactive material; and
  • Hazardous wastes.
Shipping Materials of Trade
Once you know you have a material of trade, there’s still more to do than tossing it in the trunk and heading out. While MOTs are largely exempt from the hazmat regulations, there are still a few basic requirements. And, while MOTs don’t require UN specification packaging or hazmat shipping papers, they do require alternative hazard communications. You must also abide by strict quantity limits.
Learn More About Materials of Trade
Lion’s Transporting Materials of Trade Online Course will teach your employees to understand what materials qualify for the MOT exception and what they must do to comply with the DOT rules when shipping these materials. The online course is one hour long, and satisfies the U.S. DOT’s function-specific training requirement for MOT shippers (49 CFR 173.6(c)(4).

Tags: DOT, hazmat shipping

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