DOT HM-181 Hazmat Training Explained

Posted on 4/18/2024 by Lion Technology Inc.

Need DOT hazmat training?

We recommend Hazmat Ground Shipper Certification (DOT) training.

[Updated: 05/15/2024. Added video, HM-181 Hazmat Training Explained

What is DOT HM-181 Hazmat Training?

What is HM-181 hazmat training? How does the term “HM-181” relate to the US DOT Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR)? Find out how, when, and why this rulemaking docket number became industry jargon for hazmat employee training—and why that may not change anytime soon.

See all videos at


HM-181 and DOT Hazmat Training

Q: "Someone told me that I need “HM-181 training” to ship or receive hazardous materials. Does Lion offer this type of training?"

A: Yes—Lion offers this type of training. "HM-181” is commonly used as shorthand for the US DOT hazmat training requirements found in 49 CFR Part 172.704. Lion offers hazmat employee training to help organizations satisfy these US DOT/PHMSA requirements. 

(Related: What is HM-126F?)

hazmat handling training banner

What is “HM-181”?

US DOT often works on dozens of rulemaking actions at the same time. To organize all of these rules and prevent mix-ups, DOT assigns a “docket number” to each one. Docket numbers make it easier for the public to track new regulations throughout the rulemaking process, which can last for years or even decades.

HM-181 is a docket number that has been assigned to many rulemakings related to hazmat transportation safety and employee training over the years. 

The most noteworthy HM-181 rule was published in December of 1990. That rule completely overhauled the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to align or “harmonize” US rules with international standards. This rule had a tremendous impact on the domestic hazmat shipping standards. HM-181 was a game changer.

If you worked in the field of hazardous materials transportation in the 1990s, the HM-181 rulemaking loomed large. The rule required re-thinking shipping procedures, packaging, training, hazard communication, and more. Entire organizations had to get familiar with the updated rules, and that required a lot of training.

That’s why many people in industry still use “HM-181” to refer to hazmat training today. 

View the HM-181 rule in the December 21, 1990 Federal Register through the Library of Congress.  
[55 Fed. Reg. 52402. December 21, 1990.]

Other HM-181 Hazmat Rules

Two other important hazmat-related rules assigned to docket number HM-181 were a 1993 Rule that revised the regulations to require training within 90 days of employment and a 1996 Rule that, among other things, created a three-year timeframe for re-training hazmat employees.

HM-181 Links to Hazmat History  

Use of docket number HM-181 dates back more than thirty years. The fact that the term is still used to discuss hazmat training shows what a monumental affect it had on professionals across the supply chain.

In 1990, the HM-181 Final Rule affected nearly every person and business involved in any phase of hazmat transportation. It's no wonder the label has survived so long!

For professionals starting a career in hazmat transportation today, recognizing the term HM-181 and understanding why people use it allows you to communicate more clearly with colleagues and business partners, and to identify potentially relevant training.

More: Hazmat Training FAQ.

DOT HM-181 Hazmat Training Explained


Tags: hazmat training, HM-181

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

The instructor was very knowledgeable and provided pertinent information above and beyond the questions that were asked.

Johnny Barton

Logistics Coordinator

This was the 1st instructor that has made the topic actually enjoyable and easy to follow and understand. Far better than the "other" training providers our company has attended!

Lori Hardy

Process & Resource Administrator

The price was reasonable, the time to complete the course was manageable, and the flexibility the online training allowed made it easy to complete.

Felicia Rutledge

Hazmat Shipping Professional

The instructor made the class enjoyable. He presented in a very knowledgeable, personable manner. Best class I've ever attended. Will take one again.

John Nekoloff

Environmental Compliance Manager

I really enjoy your workshops. Thank you for such a great program and all the help Lion has provided me over the years!

George Chatman

Hazardous Material Pharmacy Technician

The instructor was very engaging and helped less experienced people understand the concepts.

Steve Gall

Safety Leader

The instructor was very patient and engaging - willing to answer and help explain subject matter.

Misty Filipp

Material Control Superintendent

This is the best RCRA training I've experienced! I will be visiting Lion training again.

Cynthia L. Logsdon

Principal Environmental Engineer

The instructor was very dedicated to providing a quality experience. She did her best to make sure students were really comprehending the information.

Stephanie Venn

Inventory Control Specialist

Much better than my previous class with another company. The Lion instructor made sense, kept me awake and made me laugh!

Marti Severs

Enterprise Safety Manager

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

Find out what makes DOT hazmat training mandatory for employees who sign the hazardous waste manifest, a “dually regulated” document for tracking shipments.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.