Finally Final: PHMSA Publishes HM 215N Hazmat Harmonization Rule

Posted on 3/30/2017 by Roger Marks

To harmonize the US hazmat shipping rules with international standards, US DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) officially published its highly anticipated hazmat rulemaking HM 215N to the Federal Register today.

US DOT withdrew the HM 215N Final Rule, which was signed and set for publication in January this year, following an executive order to “freeze” all new regulations.

We covered the major changes in this Final Rule in January. Read deeper into the new and changing requirements here. Below, we’ll re-state some of the most crucial updates.

In addition to about 50 pages of updates, new entries, and changes to the Hazmat Table at 49 CFR 172.101 and the hazmat special provisions, this Final Rule (HM 215N) makes many other significant updates to the hazmat regulations that all US hazardous materials/dangerous goods shippers should be aware of.

Incorporating New International Hazmat Standards
The Final Rule incorporates by reference international regulations including, among others:
  • The 19th Revised Edition of the UN Model Regulations.
  • The 2017–18 ICAO Technical Instructions and 2017 IATA DGR.
  • Amendment 38-16 of the IMDG Code.
  • The 6th Revised Edition of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for Classifying and Labeling Chemicals.

Two More Years for New Label Specs

Earlier this week in our post Waiting for HM 215N: What Hazmat Labels Specs to Use?, we discussed new hazmat marking and label specifications adopted from international standards. This Final Rule gives shippers two more years—until December 31, 2018—to deplete their stock of “old”-style labels or pre-printed packagings.

Check out the new label size specifications here.

Hazmat label and markingNote: New minimum size requirements for the UN, NA, or ID number marking on hazmat packages, adopted by US in a previous harmonization rulemaking, are now mandatory as of January 1, 2017.
  • Larger packages must be marked in characters at least 12 mm (0.47 in.) high.
  • Packages with a maximum capacity of 30 L (8 gal.) or less, or 40 kg (66 lbs.) maximum gross weight, or cylinders with a water capacity of 60 L (16 gal.) or less must be marked with characters at least 6 mm (0.24 in.) high.
  • Packages with a maximum capacity of 5 L (1.3 gal.) or 5 kg (11 lbs.) or less “…must be marked in a size appropriate for the size for the package.”

New Lithium Battery Rules

Lithium battery Class 9 labelHM 215N also includes major updates for lithium battery ground shippers. These changes harmonize the 49 CFR rules with international lithium battery marking and labeling standards:
  • Adds a new Class 9 lithium battery label for so-called “fully regulated” battery shipments (mandatory Dec. 31, 2018).
  • Replaces the lithium battery handling label with a new, rectangular lithium battery label for shipments of “small” lithium batteries (mandatory Dec. 31, 2018).
  • Adds a size requirement for “damaged/defective” lithium battery marking.
To read more about these changes to DOT’s lithium battery rules, check out New DOT Lithium Battery Rules for 2017

New and Revised Rules for Hazmat Cylinders

The Final Rule includes a lengthy discussion of public comments and considerations PHMSA made surrounding requirements for hazmat cylinders. Many stakeholders expressed concerns about inconsistency between 49 CFR regulations and international standards for cylinders.
In the HM-215N Final Rule, PHMSA:
  • Makes technical changes to the rules for cylinders and compressed gases.
  • Amends the HMR cylinder, cargo tank repair, and equivalency certificate standards in 49 CFR 171.12 to harmonize with Canada’s TDG regulations and simplify cross-border hazmat transport.
  • Amends §107.805(a) to authorize prospective requalifiers to obtain approval by PHMSA to inspect, test, certify, repair, or rebuild TC specification cylinders, and makes other conforming changes.

Brand-new Standards for Division 4.1 Shipments

Final Rule HM 215N overhauls the rules for shipping Division 4.1 hazmat and polymerizing substances—including changing classification criteria, adding definitions and testing criteria, adding four new UN numbers for polymerizing substances, and more.

The new rules concerning polymerizing substances come with a “sunset period” of two years, meaning the requirements will expire if not extended or otherwise updated within the next two years.
For more information on the changes for Division 4.1 shippers, read our original post here.  

Rewriting the Rules for Engines and Battery-powered Vehicles

The HM-215N Final Rule also makes critical updates to 49 CFR 173.220 for internal combustion engines, battery-powered vehicles, and fuel-cell–powered equipment and machinery.
Lastly, the Final Rule makes other changes to the packaging instructions for various specific hazardous materials in 49 CFR 173.

Questions about your hazmat shipments? Contact us at today! 

Tags: hazmat, HM215N, IATA, new rules, PHMSA, shipping

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