Finding Out More About the Hazardous Material Regulations

Posted on 6/21/2011 by James Griffin

There are 34 pages in the Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety and Security Reauthorization Act of 2005 [HMTA; Pub. L. 109-59] and 1,105 pages in the Hazardous Material Regulations [HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180] to enforce that law. These laws and rules govern every element of hazardous materials transportation safety and security. Have you ever read or skimmed through them? Do you know where to find a copy?
The HMTA and HMR, like most Federal government documents, are published by an agency called the Government Printing Office (GPO) and are available for free online at the following links: HMTA & HMR.
The rest of the United States Code and the Code of Federal Regulations are also available online.
But what if your situation isn’t quite covered in the law or rule? The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the sub-unit of the Department of Transportation that writes and enforces the regulations, also publishes letters of interpretation, guidance documents, and other sources of information that can help you stay in compliance.
Letters of Interpretation
From time to time, the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety writes clarifications of the Hazardous Material Regulations in the form of “letters of interpretation,” which reflect the government’s current perspective of the rules as they apply to specific situations. These letters to do not by themselves create rules, but they provide guidance to the regulated community on how to follow the rules.
To see a list of the past ten years’ worth of interpretive letters, arranged by date and by regulatory citation, click here.
Other Guidance
The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety also publishes a variety of regulatory compliance guidance documents. This includes safety advisiories for unsafe packagings; plain-language explanations of hazard classification and regulatory compliance; and brochures on specialized topics, including materials of trade and radioactive materials. All of these documents can be accessed through the Office’s online library.
Hazardous Materials Information Center
And if none of those documents answers your question, you can always call the Hazardous Materials Information Center (HMIC) at 1-800-HMR(467)-4922 for help on the use of the Hazardous Materials Regulations. You can also call the HMIC to order copies of their publications or to report violations of the HMR.
In addition to these resources, Lion’s own regulatory experts provide valuable hazmat compliance insight to Lion Members. All attendees of Lion’s hazmat shipping workshops receive one full year of access to Lion’s Transportation Special Bulletin e-mail alerts, downloadable compliance reference materials, and Lion’s expert regulatory Finder Service.

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