Placarding is a vital part of the hazardous materials shipping process. Anyone who has ever driven down a highway has probably noticed trucks, tankers or freight containers with placards that resemble large hazard labels.
These placards are meant to communicate the hazards being transported and such information is extremely useful to emergency responders in the event of an incident involving a hazardous material and how they must proceed if something happens to the vehicle bearing them.
More than one million shipments containing hazardous materials are made each day in the United States. Placarding is important for the overwhelming majority of them. Here is some information on the federal regulations and rules regarding placarding requirements.
When Do Placarding Requirements Apply?
Sub-part F of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR) outlines the placarding requirements that hazmat shippers must follow. According to Section 172.500, this sub-part applies specifically to each person who offers for transportation or transports any hazardous material subject to 49 CFR’s hazardous materials regulations.
Section 172.506 also states that if a vehicle transporting dangerous goods on the road does not have them, the operators is responsible for providing the necessary hazmat placards. In most cases, each bulk packaging, freight container, unit load device, transport vehicle, or rail car containing any quantity of a hazardous material must be placarded on each side and each end with the type of placards specified by the U.S. DOT.
When a transport vehicle or freight container contains less than 1,001 pounds of aggregate gross weight of hazardous materials, placards are not required.
When Do the Regulations For Placarding Not Apply?
Naturally, exceptions do exist for placarding and other hazardous material transportation requirements. People classify dangerous goods into nine distinct classes (some with further subdivisions) based on the specific hazards they present. Placards must show the class of the goods being transported.
Hazardous materials placarding requirements delineated under Section 172.500 (b) do not apply to:
- Infectious substances
- Hazardous materials classed as ORM-D
- Hazardous materials authorized by the regulations to be offered for transportation as a limited quantity when identified as such on a shipping paper
- Hazardous materials prepared in accordance with § 173.13
- Hazardous materials that are packaged as small quantities under the provisions of § 173.4
- Combustible liquids in non-bulk packagings
Learning the Rules
As part of their job, hazmat employees must know and abide by the specific rules regarding the placarding requirements. The information on this part of the process must be included in the mandatory training that each employee receives.
Operated by the Bureau of Dangerous Goods, “Hazmat University’’ (www.hazmatuniversity.com) offers online training regarding rules regulating placarding.