US DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and OSHA recently issued a joint guidance document to help industry comply with overlapping hazard communication, or “HazCom,” rules for chemicals in the workplace and in transportation.
The guidance may be useful to those who offer or transport hazmat shipments by rail or highway tanks, rail cars, and other bulk containers. It is intended to clear up confusion about conflicting statements in DOT’s 49 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations and the text of GHS with regard to hazard labels on bulk shipments. See the full joint guidance memo here.
Conflicts Between DOT and OSHA Hazardous Chemicals Labeling
DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), found at 49 CFR 100–185, include a statement that appears to explicitly prohibit
the use of GHS and DOT hazmat labels on the same package or container: “No person may offer for transportation and no carrier may transport a package bearing any marking or label which by its color, design, or shape could be confused with or conflict with a label prescribed by this part.”
[49 CFR 172.401(b)]
But if we look to the next paragraph in the HMR, 49 CFR 172.401(c), we see that this prohibition does not apply to packages labeled in conformance with GHS standards
. Building on this, the memo states: “As such, the display of a marking or label not required by DOT’s HRM, but conforming to OSHA’s HCS 2012 and consistent with GHS is not a violation of the HMR.”
Background on GHS for Hazmat Shippers
Both US DOT and OSHA set requirements for labeling hazardous chemicals. DOT’s rules apply to the transportation of hazardous chemicals. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, found at 29 CFR 1910.1200, is intended to inform employees of the chemical hazards they face in the workplace. OSHA adopted elements of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) its Hazard Communication Standard in 2012. Read more about GHS hazard communication and hazmat shipping requirements here.
Keep Shipments in Compliance with 49 CFR and GHS
Want to learn more about how GHS labeling rules affect your chemical shipments? On November 17, join a full-time Lion instructor for the GHS for Hazmat Shippers Webinar.
The webinar will help you make sense of the complex, overlapping OSHA and DOT labeling rules for hazardous chemicals. Make sure you know how these rules work together and which labels belong on which shipments, and why. Effective training is crucial to protect your staff and avoid hazmat fines as high as $77,114 per day, per violation.
New Course! Shipping Hazmat by Rail
If you offer or transport hazmat rail shipments, Lion’s new Hazmat Ground Shipper—Additional Rail Requirements
online course will help you build on your hazmat highway knowledge to keep your rail shipments in compliance. Learn the special considerations and requirements that apply to this unique mode of hazmat transport—loading, unloading, and transloading; segregation, separation, and position-in-train requirements, tank car inspection responsibilities, and special rules for Class 3, 2, 2.1 and 6.1 materials. Sign up now!