Citing an increased frequency of liquid spills in the mail network, the United States Postal Service (USPS) proposed new requirements for packages containing liquids
—including liquid hazardous materials—on July 9, 2018. If finalized, the proposed rule will add new requirements for packaging and marking packages containing liquids for transport by mail.
Learn the unique USPS rules for shipping hazardous materials by mail with the Hazmat Postal Shipper Online Course. If you ship items like aerosols, cosmetics, lithium batteries, oils, or many others via USPS, you must know the regulations that apply to avoid delays, re-packaging, and fines from US DOT.
Liquid Spills in the USPS System
Even non-hazardous liquids spilled in small quantities can cause equipment shutdowns, damage other mail pieces, and otherwise disrupt the mail delivery process. When oily or viscous substances like lotions and oils spill in the mail, the effects are even worse.
The new USPS regulations, found in 39 CFR Part 111, would add the following general requirements for shipping liquids by mail:
- Require descriptive markings on outer containers containing liquids.
- Require orientation arrows as per Publication 52, section 226.
- Require the use of screw-on caps with a minimum of one and one-half turns, soldering, clips, or similar means to close primary containers containing liquids.
- Encourage the use of locking rings or similar devices when mailing containers with friction-top closures (i.e., “push-down tops”).
New Requirements for Nonmetal Containers (and Some Metal Containers)
In addition, USPS is adding requirements for all nonmetal containers and metal containers with friction-top or “push-down” closures.
This includes plastic
containers. USPS says in its proposal that shippers often consider plastic containers “unbreakable” and therefore do not take precautions to prevent or mitigate a release of liquids during transport, e.g., adding absorbent material or using a secondary container.
For these containers, USPS will require that liquids shipped by mail be “triple-packaged” as follows:
- Cushion the primary container with absorbent materials capable of absorbing all of the liquid in the container in case of breakage.
- Place the primary container inside of another sealed, leakproof container, like a watertight can or plastic bag.
- Use a strong and securely sealed outer mailing container durable enough to project the contents and withstand normal processing in the USPS network.
USPS believe these additional requirements will reduce the frequency of liquid spills in the postal system. Fewer spills, USPS says, should cut down on time and money spent cleaning up spills and decontaminating mail and equipment.
Comments on the proposed rule are due by August 8, 2018. Get more information in the Federal Register here.
How to Ship Hazmat by USPS
For small businesses and e-commerce shippers, USPS can be a cost-effective choice to deliver goods to customers around the world. Businesses that ship small quantities of hazardous materials must have the knowledge and procedures in place to ensure safe delivery—both USPS and US DOT have the authority to issue hefty penalties for violations of hazmat regulations. In addition, improper packaging, markings, labels, or shipping papers can all result in rejection, lost time, missed deadlines, and upset customers.
Check out the Hazmat Postal Shipper Online Course
and find out what you need to know to offer hazmat for transport by USPS.