PHMSA/DOT Update: Label Border Line Thickness

HM-215N Update: Clarification on 2mm label border line thickness

2mm Label Border Requirement Changed

As most hazardous goods professionals know, HM-215N was intended to harmonize the 49 CFR regulations with the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods—Model Regulations (UN Model Regulations), International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code), and the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO Technical Instructions).

Among many other mandates, the final ruling ultimately revised §172.407 (c)(1)(iii), which changed the required width of the solid line forming the inner border of hazard class labels to a minimum of 2mm thick allowing for a transition period for domestic transportation to be in effect until December 31, 2018 in a final rule published in March of 2017.

“Approximately” vs “At Least”

Although this ruling intended to improve consistency in labeling specifications worldwide, the language has caused confusion at the international level, and The United Nations Subcommittee of Experts recently adopted new language to clarify the width of the line may be “approximately” 2 mm instead of “at least” 2mm.

As a result, earlier this year in response to the industry’s request for clarification, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) rescinded the requirement for label borders to be at least 2mm in thickness.

This action will officially take effect on January 1, 2019. However, US enforcement inspectors currently still have been referring to the Continue Reading…

HazMat box with tape gun
Am I Using the Right Tape on my HazMat Shipment? (FAQ)

Man preparing shipment

Frequently Asked Questions About Tape Being Used With UN Boxes

Often times I get questions regarding which type of tape could be used with the various packaging we sell here at ICC Compliance Center. Like many other answers to questions, most of the questions can be answered straight from the regulations. As many of us know, sometimes when it comes to packaging, the regulations may not be specific enough to the questions we have. That’s when I turn to the PHMSA Interpretations for guidance.

What are PHMSA Interpretations?

PHMSA interpretations are written explanations of the hazardous materials regulations by various members of the D.O.T. They come in in the form of letters that are answering specific questions asked by a wide variety of dangerous goods professionals. They are to be used only as a form of guidance when following the regulations.

Do keep in mind that the interpretations that are currently posted in the database reflect the current application of the 49 CFR to the specific questions and may be removed if there are changes to the regulations or deemed inaccurate. The PHMSA interpretation browser can be found on PHMSA’s website.

HazMat Shipment Tape FAQs

Q. Can I put more strips of the tape than what is referenced in the closing instructions along the seam of the box?
A. Yes. Per Interpretation Response #06-0129 at the link below, as long as the specified Continue Reading…
PHMSA
PHMSA & OSHA Make a Video Together – an Oxymoron?

Warehouse with chemicals

PHMSA vs OSHA

George Carlin will always be a favorite comedian for people of a certain age. One of his best-known bits is on oxymorons. An oxymoron, is basically a set of contradictory terms that work together. While not the greatest of explanations, let’s have George give you some examples to make the point.

This concept came to mind on the heels of the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) joint video on labeling. Those two organizations are just that, 2 different organizations, yet they released a joint video? It sounded like a setup to a bad joke. Turns out I was wrong.

The video does a great job of explaining the focus of each organization and goes a long way to clearing the air. There are references to the regulations used by each, but not a lot of time is spent on “regulatory language” or the details of either one. 

Comparing PHMSA vs OSHA

Here is my version of the comparisons between the two and how closely the align based on the video.

PHMSA OSHA Take Away
Regulates hazardous materials in transport Regulates hazardous chemicals in the workplace Both want people to be safe.
Uses the Hazardous Materials Regulation Uses the Hazard Communication Standard Both have a set of “rules”.
Defines Hazardous Material as those that pose an unreasonable risk to health, safety and property when transported in commerce Defines Hazardous Chemical as Continue Reading…
PHMSA Change Notice

Man preparing shipment

PHMSA Issues Notice of Change on Termination of M-Number and R-Number Approvals with no Expiration Date

PHMSA has made a proposal to terminate previously approved M-numbers and R-numbers that were issued without an expiration date. Unless approval holders can either show why their approvals should not be terminated as provided in 49 CFR 107.713(c)(1) or apply for a modification of their approval in accordance with 49 CFR 107.705 prior to the effective date, their M-number may be considered expired. Modified approvals will conform to the Approvals and Permits Division’s standardized format in which all approvals have a 5-year expiration date.

M Number on UN packaging

What is an M-Number?

An “M-Number” or manufacturer number is issued by the D.O.T. to a manufacturer of packaging related to hazardous goods as a means of identification. This number is used in place of the manufacturer’s name and address as authorized in 49 CFR 178.503. In addition, an “R” number was a number previously given to companies that recondition their hazardous goods packaging, but PHMSA now uses M-numbers in their place. Often times the M-number is displayed on the outside of a package (like in the above picture). Manufacturer’s symbols can come in two formats. The first format lists the manufacturers sequentially by Identification Number (M#). The second format lists each state’s manufacturers alphabetically by city and company name. The identification number, the name and address, the status, and Continue Reading…

PHMSA
49 CFR – There’s an App for that?

oCFR Regulation Smartphone app

We’ve Come a Long Way

Technology is everywhere we look now. Think about some of the advertisements on television you see for what is available today in the realm of technology. There is the refrigerator that sends you pictures of its insides and keeps your grocery list. A device that can regulate your thermostat, turn on your lights, and send you reminders about events. Cell phones can now stream videos, search the internet, pay your bills, and still make calls. All of these are just in the past year.

Think back about ten years ago. It doesn’t seem that long ago, now does it? It is around this time that the iPhone craze was starting. In 2008 the iPhone 3G was released. As the second generation of iPhone, it came preloaded with such features as a GPS, special email capabilities, and the App Store. App stands for Application. It is from the App Store that people could download various tools, games, and software. Around this time, Apple began to advertise with the slogan, “There’s an App for that”.  You can watch one of the original commercials here.

So, why all the history? Because there is a new app available from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). This app called “oCFR” (Online Code of Federal Regulations), which allows access to a simplified, mobile version of Continue Reading…

Anatomy of an ERG

Emergency Response Guidebook

Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG)

The North American Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) is a tool developed by the US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Transport Canada, and the Secretaria de Comunicaiones Y Transportes (SCT).

Every 4 years, millions of copies are distributed, free of charge to firefighters and other emergency personnel. The purpose is to provide guidance to first responders during the initial phase of a transport incident involving dangerous goods.

There are Six Sections in the ERG

The white pages are informational. They contain the guidance and explanation on the following:

  • A flow chart provides information on how to use the Guide.
  • Basic safety information for use when responding
  • Hazard classification system
  • Rail car identification
  • Introduction to GHS pictograms
  • International Identification numbers
  • Hazard Identification numbers
  • Pipeline transportation, including pipeline markers

The Yellow Pages are chemicals listed by UN number. The responder would find the chemical by UN number, then follow orange and green pages accordingly. This section is also a handy tool to look up chemical names when you only have the UN number, without having to pull out a 49 CFR!

The Blue Pages are chemicals listed by chemical name. The responder would find the chemical by name, then go to the orange and green pages for instructions. This section is also a handy tool to look up UN numbers when you only have the chemical Continue Reading…

OSHA & PHMSA Working Together

OSHA & PHMSA Issue Joint Guidance Memorandum

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a joint guidance memorandum that is intended to provide clarity on the applicability and relationship between, DOT’s labeling requirements under the HMR and OSHA’s labeling requirements for bulk shipments under the HCS 2012.

PHMSA’s hazardous materials regulations require labeling of hazardous materials in transportation, while OSHA requires labeling on containers in the workplace.

When OSHA released its Hazcom 2012 (29 CFR Part 1910.1200) revisions, Appendix C.2.3.3 stated that “If a label has a DOT transport pictogram, the corresponding HCS pictogram shall not appear.” The Hazardous Materials Regulations state “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 Part 172.401(b)).

This raised many questions with stakeholders, and shortly thereafter, OSHA published a brief that stated that PHMSA does not view the pictograms as a conflict, and both may appear. OSHA continues on in the brief to state they intend on revising C.2.3.3, but in the meantime, they will allow both to appear. This new guidance document further confirms this position.

The Joint Guidance Memorandum can be found at https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/joint_phmsa_memo_09192016.html


ICC is your source for compliant DOT/OSHA Continue Reading…

Training … Are You Up to Speed?

Training is needed in everything we do. Whether it is work, play or home we are constantly learning or being trained on something. We train our children for adulthood. We train our athletes how to run plays or moves. We are trained at our places of employment on how to do our jobs properly. Training in all aspects of life is in place to help us do things properly, help us succeed and help keep us safe.

In the workplace, how do we know just what type of training we should be getting? Obviously, it is going to change from site to site based on the type of business you work for. Regardless of the type of business, all workplaces are required by the OSH Act to provide a safe place to work. As per OSHA there are relevant types of training needed for different types of industry. These industries listed below with their appropriate regulation could be required:

If an industry doesn’t fall under a specific regulation like construction, they would follow the general industry standard. OSHA just updated their “Training Requirements in OSHA Standards” booklet. In this booklet OSHA gives a guide to all training requirements for employers, safety and health professionals, training directors and others to comply with Continue Reading…

When an Ordinary Box Isn’t so Ordinary After All (HazMat Box)

We have all used a fiberboard (or cardboard as most people call it) box to ship something. It may have been a box of gifts for a friend or family member, or a package of merchandise for a client at work. Most of the time, you probably didn’t give much thought to the box other than to make sure it was sturdy enough and big enough to contain what you were shipping. For these typical kinds of shipments, that ordinary box will do just fine. HazMat (or dangerous goods) shipments, however, aren’t ordinary and neither is the box that they need to be shipped in.

The packaging industry is a science in itself, with ever evolving processes, techniques, materials, treatments, and regulations. HazMat packaging is a specialized area of packaging technology, and it has some very specific requirements that must be followed. Even though a HazMat box may look identical to a standard shipping carton, there are some significant “behind the scenes” differences between them!

  1. Material matters! When dealing with HazMat boxes, there are specific tolerances for manufacturing. The combination of materials used to make up the fiberboard has very little wiggle room once the design has been approved and certified. Changes in the material may invalidate the certification and make the boxes non-compliant.
  2. Proven performance! HazMat boxes have to be put to the test before they can be Continue Reading…
Single Packaging
The Importance of Packing Instructions

Simon Says . . . It’s All About Following Directions

An experienced shipper knows that in order to be compliant for HazMat or Dangerous Goods shipping, packaging designs have to be subjected to performance testing. In fact, this should be something that even new shippers learn during their training. This testing is meant to simulate conditions that the package could encounter during typical transport operations.

Did you know that there are requirements to be followed even after the testing is complete and the packaging is marked as meeting the appropriate specifications? In a game of Simon Says, all players must do whatever Simon says. Packaging manufacturers are like Simon, they must provide proper instructions to customers so that they are able to assemble and use the packaging correctly. The packaging must be assembled in the same manner as it was during the testing process. If not, the shipment could be considered non-compliant.

The certification provided for the packaging is only good for the exact configuration that was tested. This is especially critical for combination packagings which can have numerous parts necessary to make a complete package. Making even minor changes to that configuration means there is no way to know for sure if it would still pass the testing criteria. Using specification packaging is much like a game of Simon Says . . . one wrong move and you Continue Reading…