Hazmat Airbag Recall Now Affects 34 Million Vehicles

Posted on 5/20/2015 by Roger Marks

In a defect report filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), major air bag supplier Takata has acknowledged defects in its air bag inflators, leading NHTSA to expand an ongoing recall effort which will now affect nearly 34 million vehicles fitted with defective safety devices. When deployed, these defective airbags can rupture and spray metal shards into the car, injuring passengers. The defect is now blamed for six deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide.

NHSTA has received recall notifications from BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and other auto manufacturers. To provide the public with information on the NHTSA recall, US DOT has set up a dedicated Website.

Hazmat Regulations for Shipping Auto Parts

The US Department of Transportation regulates the transport of airbags under its Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR). The United Nations categorizes these products under two different UN ID numbers: UN 0503 and UN 3268. The UN ID number used for a shipment depends on how the device is initiated (i.e., by “explosive propellant” or electronically).

airbag recall affects 34 million cars
New Names for Airbags and Seatbelt Pretensioners by Air

Until 2015, shippers were required to use one of three Proper Shipping Names (PSNs) to identify these auto products on hazmat shipping papers: “air bag inflators,” “air bag modules,” or “seatbelt pretensioners.” In the latest edition of its Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), IATA replaced these previously accepted shipping names with new names for both explosive and electronically initiated auto safety devices.

As of January 1 this year, the following PSNs apply to the products above:

UN 0503 – “Safety devices, pyrotechnic”

UN 3268 – “Safety devices electrically initiated”

US DOT Proposed Changes

In August 2014, the US DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) proposed a similar revision to its rules for naming certain shipments of automotive safety devices, found at 49 CFR 172.101. If and when the rule change is finalized, the new DOT standards will apply to all ground shipments. for naming certain shipments of automotive safety devices, 

Training for Shipping Hazmat Auto Parts

US DOT requires all employees who prepare airbags inflators for transport (defective or not) complete adequate training once every three years. Parts dealers, service operations, and dealerships affected by the airbag recall must train employees on the rules for classifying, packaging, marking, labeling, and documenting the defective products for transport. Overlooking the US DOT requirements for hazmat shipping can result not only in costly civil penalties (as high as $75,000 per violation), but also in incidents in transit and injury to workers—especially given the defective nature of the recalled airbags.

The Shipping Hazmat for Auto Parts and Service Operations online course is designed specifically for employees involved in shipping hazardous auto industry articles like airbags. Designed to satisfy the US DOT’s training requirement for hazmat employees at 49 CFR 172.704(c), the course also covers the latest rules for shipping common automotive hazmat products like batteries, engines, paints, seatbelt pretensioners, and more. The cost for the online course is $179 per student. Parts managers can enroll their employees at or call Lion Technology at 888-546-6511 to register.

Tags: airbags, hazmat, shipping, Takata

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