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GHS Labels for Tanker Trucks and Rail Tank Cars

Posted on 7/22/2015 by Roger Marks

Under OSHA’s “HazCom 2012” Standard (HCS), mandatory for chemical manufacturers, processors, and distributors as of June 1, 2015, containers of hazardous chemicals must display new labels and pictograms.

For typical workplace chemical containers, the OSHA GHS container labeling requirements are relatively straightforward. Complications can arise, though, when hazardous chemicals are offered for transport by ground, air, or vessel under the US DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR). In these instances, the 49 CFR hazmat regulations require labels on packages that contain regulated materials.

When the DOT Hazmat and GHS HazCom Regulations Overlap

There are two shipping situations in which the US DOT hazmat regulations overlap with the new OSHA GHS hazard communication container labeling standards. The first is simple—a number of small chemical containers are shipped in a box. In this case, the bottles inside the box would be labeled in compliance with the GHS requirements and the outer package (the box) would feature the US DOT hazmat label elements.

GHS hazcom bulk tanks hazmat shipping

GHS Labeling for Tanker Trucks and Rail Cars

The second situation is more complex, because in some cases, the DOT “package” is the same as the OSHA “container.” Examples range from 55-gallon drums of material to much larger containers like rail or truck tanker cars. For these tank car and rail shipments of hazardous chemicals/materials, DOT and OSHA GHS standards apply at different points in the supply chain. In essence, the hazard labeling rules that apply depend on whether the tank car is functioning as a transport vessel or a workplace container. From the OSHA memo released on July 20:
  • In situations where a tank truck, rail car, or similar vehicle comprises the container for the hazardous chemical, the [GHS] labeling information may either be posted on the outside of the vehicle or attached to the accompanying shipping papers or bill of lading.
  • If a tanker truck or railroad tank car that is labeled in accordance with the DOT labeling requirements arrives at a facility and is offloaded into a storage tank, without storage of the tanker truck or railroad car, the DOT labeling would be sufficient on the tanker truck or railroad car.
  • If the tanker truck or railroad tank car is stored (wheels chocked and cab/engine disconnected from the tanker/rail car) prior to offloading, the requirements of HCS apply and the labels must comply with paragraph (f)(7). OSHA is allowing this to be labeled as a stationary process container.
  • If the tanker truck or railroad tank car becomes part of the process (e.g., hooked up to the piping system or used as a process container), it must be labeled in accordance with paragraph (f)(7). OSHA is allowing this to be labeled as a stationary process container. If the tanker truck or railroad tank car is used as a transport container in-house (e.g., internal railroad car system), paragraph (f)(7) does not apply and the container must be labeled in compliance with the workplace labeling rules in (f)(6)(i) or (ii), as the container is no longer stationary.
Can I Mail the GHS Labels to the Customer?

According to the OSHA memo on GHS enforcement, “A label may not be shipped separately, even prior to shipment of the hazardous chemical, since to do so defeats the purpose of providing an immediate hazard warning.

Mailing labels directly to purchasers bypasses employees involved in transporting and handling the hazardous chemical. (Note the exemption in (f)(4)(i) for solid metals, plastic items, shipments of whole grain, and solid wood (i.e., untreated lumber)).”

GHS Hazard Communication for Hazmat Shippers

Find out how the now mandatory GHS hazard communication standards will affect the way your company ships hazardous chemicals and make a plan for ongoing compliance. Designed exclusively for hazmat shippers, the GHS Compliance for Hazmat Shippers Webinar details how the complex DOT and OSHA GHS labeling and documentation standards overlap and what it means for your shipping operations. The next live, instructor-led webinar session will be presented on August 18, from 1–3 p.m. ET. Sign up now to keep your chemical shipments safe, compliant, and on schedule.

Tags: DOT, GHS, hazmat shipping, marks and labels, osha

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