PHMSA Hazmat Enforcement Discretion on Packaging Tape
Citing supply chain challenges, US DOT PHMSA announced a policy of enforcement discretion for shippers who close a hazardous materials package with an adhesive tape other than the tape called for in the package manufacturer’s closure instructions.
By “enforcement discretion,” the Agency means that inspectors are unlikely to cite shippers for violating the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) by using a non-specified brand or type of tape—provided the tape used demonstrates an equal or better level of safety.
If a shipper cannot obtain the tape called for by the manufacturer’s instructions due to supply chain disruptions, alternative tape may be used. The shipper must document any deviation used to close and secure the packaging and keep that notation on file with the manufacturer’s written packing instructions. Instructions for closing the package with the alternative tape must be included.
The notice of enforcement discretion is effective through August 31, 2022.
In PHMSA’s words:
“PHMSA will exercise regulatory enforcement discretion for an individual who, due to the supply chain shortages identified above, affixes to a packaging of hazardous materials a non-specified adhesive tape closure on UN Performance Oriented Packagings, provided the non-specified tape is:
[05/02/22] Notice of Enforcement Discretion Regarding Packaging Tape
- The same material as the tape in the original packaging test report;
- is capable of demonstrating no diminished capabilities in yield strength, thickness, ductility, width, length, or adhesive properties; and
- is compatible with the packaging. “
Why The Type of Tape MattersUN rated packages are subject to rigorous testing before they can be marked with an approved UN marking. To ensure the package performs up to its tested rating, manufacturers provide detailed closure instructions with every package.
The Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) require shippers to follow those closure instructions, down to the last detail. That sometimes includes using the exact type of adhesive tape that the manufacturer used during package testing.
Why? Because the package passed performance testing using a specific type of tape. If a different type of tape had been used, the package may have failed the test. To ensure the package performs up to its rated capacity during transportation, shippers must use the same tape the manufacturer used.
Is Wider Tape a “Change in Design”?The tape used to close the package is part of the package design. Therefore, using a type of tape not specified in the manufacturer instructions can constitute a “new package design.”
If a package calls for a two-inch-wide strip of “XYZ tape” to secure the box, then using a one-inch-wide strip of XYZ tape is a violation of the packaging rules. Even using two one-inch-wide strips is a violation.
But what if a shipper uses a four-inch-wide strip of XYZ tape? In 2018, PHMSA released an interpretation to clarify that using a wider strip of tape is not necessarily a violation of the HMR.
“Increasing the width of the tape from that specified in the packaging test report and closure notifications does not constitute a change in design,” PHMSA said in 2018, “provided the tape is otherwise of the same specification originally tested.” [Letter to Ben Barrett, 5/16/18].
To summarize: When you ship a hazardous material in a fiberboard box, the box must stay closed during the entire cycle of transportation. To make sure the package is securely closed, and stays closed, packaging manufacturers provide detailed closure instructions with every UN rated package.
Until August 31, shippers struggling to obtain the exact right type of specified tape for a UN rated package may use an alternative tape. The alternative tape used must provide an equal or better level of transportation safety, and any variation from the manufacturer’s instructions must be documented.
Instructor-Led DOT Hazmat Training
Join a workshop or webinar for live, instructor-led training to ship hazardous materials in full compliance with the latest US and international regulations for ground, air, and vessel shippers.
The two-day Hazmat Ground Shipper Certification (DOT) Workshop comes to Cincinnati, St. Louis, San Diego, Denver, Nashville, Orlando, Dallas, and Houston this year,
|Hazmat Ground Shipper Certification (DOT)||May 17–18|
|Hazmat Vessel Shipper Certification (IMDG)||May 4|
|Shipping Lithium Batteries||June 28|
Prefer to train at your own pace? Choose an interactive, mobile-ready online course to ship hazardous materials, manage hazardous waste, prepare for emergencies, and comply with OSHA workplace safety regulations. Visit Lion.com/Online.
Find a Post
Lion was very extensive. There was a lot of things that were covered that were actually pertaining to what I do and work with. Great Job. I will be coming back in three years!
Hazmat Shipping Professional
Lion's information is very thorough and accurate. Presenter was very good.
Best course instructor I've ever had. Funny, relatable, engaging; made it interesting and challenged us as the professionals we are.
Given the choice, I would do all coursework this way. In-person courses go very fast without the opportunity to pause or repeat anything.
Chemical Laboratory Manager
The instructor's energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge of the subject make the class a great learning experience!
Convenient; I can train when I want, where I want.
Hazmat Shipping Professional
Lion does a great job summarizing and communicating complicated EH&S-related regulations.
Sr. Environmental Engineer
The instructor was very dedicated to providing a quality experience. She did her best to make sure students were really comprehending the information.
Inventory Control Specialist
I have over 26 years of environmental compliance experience, and it has been some time since I have attended an environmental regulations workshop. I attended this course as preparation for EHS Audits for my six plants, and it was exactly what I was looking for.
Director of Regulatory Affairs
The instructor was very patient and engaging - willing to answer and help explain subject matter.
Material Control Superintendent
Download Our Latest Whitepaper
Some limited quantity reliefs are reserved for specific modes of transport. Use this guide to identify which reliefs you can capitalize on, and which do not apply to your operations.