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Waiting for 215N: Which Hazmat Label Specs To Use?

Posted on 3/27/2017 by Roger Marks

Update 03/27/2017: Reputable sources for hazmat news are reporting that PHMSA may officially publish Final Rule HM 215N to harmonize the 49 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) with international standards as early as this week. 

In January 2013, US DOT finalized a hazmat harmonization rulemaking that, among other things, adopted new size requirements for hazmat labels and markings from international standards like the ICAO Technical Instructions, IMDG Code, and UN Model Regulations.

In that Final Rule, DOT allowed for a two-year transition period to allow shippers to deplete their stock of “old” labels and pre-printed packagings. Now, as of January 1, 2017, shippers are required to mark and label packages in line with new size requirements. 
DOT intended to extend this compliance deadline further—until December 31, 2018—in rulemaking HM 215N. But with HM 215N now awaiting the approval of the new DOT Administrator due to the President’s executive order “freezing” new regulations, shippers are left in limbo.

Minimum Size Requirements for Hazmat Markings as of 1/1/17

Hazmat marking on packageThe 2013 DOT Final Rule amended the HMR to harmonize with international standards by mandating minimum size requirements for markings on non-bulk packages as follows:

  • 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.”
 [78 FR 987; January 7, 2013]

Minimum Size Requirements for Hazmat Labels as of 1/1/17

Hazmat label requirementsThe minimum size specifications for hazmat labels adopted in the 2013 Final Rule are as follows:
  • Each diamond label must be at least 100 mm on each side, and
  • Each side must have a solid line inner border 5 mm inside and parallel to the edge, and
  • The width of the solid inner border line must be at least 2 mm.

Which Labels to Use Now?

For air shipments or vessel shipments prepared under the IATA DGR or IMDG Code, respectively, shippers must use the new label specifications described above and already in effect.

For domestic transport, the transition period during which shippers were authorized to use “old” style labels officially ended on December 31, 2016. While PHMSA issued guidance promising leniency for shippers properly following the IATA DGR or IMDG Code for air or vessel shipments (respectively), it is unclear whether PHMSA plans to enforce the new label specifications for domestic ground shipments.

Once HM 215N is officially approved and finalized, we expect it will still include a provision to extend the compliance deadline for use of new specification labels until December 31, 2018. Until that happens, shippers must either use the new labels for domestic shipments or “roll the dice” by continuing to use the old labels in hope that PHMSA inspectors will use their discretion and hold back enforcement action until rule HM 215N is officially in place.  

Next Month: DG Shipper Training in Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, and more!

Don’t miss expert-led 49 CFR, IATA DGR, and IMDG Code training when it comes to your area in April. Build a step-by-step process for keeping your hazmat shipments in compliance with the latest requirements. Whether you ship hazmat every day or just once in a while, knowing your responsibilities is crucial to avoid rejection, costly customs delays, and DOT fines now as high as $77,114 per day, per violation.

The Complete Multimodal Hazmat Shipper Certification Workshops will be presented in Denver on April 3-6, Kansas City on April 24-28, and Chicago on May 2-5.

Tags: hazmat, HM215N, marks and labels, new rules, shipping

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