Hazardous Materials Introduction
Hazardous materials are products that pose a risk to health, safety, and property during transportation. The term often is shortened to HAZMAT, which you may see on road signs, or to HM in government regulations. Hazardous materials include explosives, various types of gas, solids, flammable and combustible liquid, and other materials. Because of the risks involved and the potential consequences these risks impose, all levels of government regulate the handling of hazardous materials.
The Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) is found in parts 100 – 185 of title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The common reference for these regulations is 49 CFR 100 – 185
The Hazardous Materials Table in the regulations contains a list of these items. However, this list is not all-inclusive. Whether or not a material is considered hazardous is based on its characteristics and the shipper’s decision on whether or not the material meets a definition of a hazardous material in the regulations.
The regulations require vehicles transporting certain types or quantities of hazardous materials to display diamond-shaped, square on point, warning signs called placards.
This section is designed to assist you in understanding your role and responsibilities in hauling hazardous materials. Due to the constantly changing nature of government regulations, it is impossible to guarantee absolute accuracy of the materials in this section. An up-to-date copy of the complete regulations is essential for you to have. Included in these regulations is a complete glossary of terms.
You must have a commercial driver license (CDL) with a hazardous materials endorsement before you drive any size vehicle that is used to transport hazardous material as defined in 49 CFR 383.5. You must pass a written test about the regulations and requirements to get this endorsement.
Everything you need to know to pass the written test is in this section. However, this is only a beginning. Most drivers need to know much more on the job. You can learn more by reading and understanding the federal and state rules applicable to hazardous materials, as well as, attending hazardous materials training courses. Your employer, colleges and universities, and various associations usually offer these courses. You can get copies of the Federal Regulations (49 CFR) through your local Government Printing Office bookstore and various industry publishers. Union or company offices often have copies of the rules for driver use. Find out where you can get your own copy to use on the job.
The regulations require training and testing for all drivers involved in transporting hazardous materials. Your employer or a designated representative is required to provide this training and testing. Hazardous materials employers are required to keep a record of training for each employee as long as that employee is working with hazardous materials, and for 90 days thereafter. The regulations require that hazardous materials employees be trained and tested at least once every three years.
All drivers must be trained in the security risks of hazardous materials transportation. This training must include how to recognize and respond to possible security threats.
The regulations also require that drivers have special training before driving a vehicle transporting certain flammable gas materials or highway route controlled quantities of radioactive materials. In addition, drivers transporting cargo tanks and portable tanks must receive specialized training. Each driver’s employer or his or her designated representative must provide such training.
Some locations require permits to transport certain explosives or bulk hazardous wastes. States and counties also may require drivers to follow special hazardous materials routes. The federal government may require permits or exemptions for special hazardous materials cargo such as rocket fuel. Find out about permits, exemptions, and special routes for the places you drive.