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SafeCargo

SafeCargo

Know before you ship

More than 3 billion tons of regulated hazardous materials (hazmat)--including explosive, poisonous, corrosive, flammable, and radioactive materials--are transported in the United States each year.

When these materials are properly packaged, labeled, and stowed, they can be transported safely, but when they are not, they can pose significant threats to transportation workers, emergency responders, the general public, and the environment because of the potential for accidents and incidents.

Still looking for answers? Review our Frequently Asked Questions.

How to Ship Hazardous Materials

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Before offering a hazardous material to an air carrier for shipment, the Hazardous Materials Regulations require YOU, the shipper, to properly classify, package, mark and label the package to identify the hazard.

When shipping hazardous materials (e.g., lithium batteries or battery powered devices, aerosols, oxygen cylinders) or flammable liquids (e.g., perfumery products or alcoholic beverages) please follow these steps to ensure your package is correctly packed and marked:

Step 1: The Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is a good starting point for determining if an item you are shipping might be a hazardous material. Typically, you can obtain an SDS from the manufacturer of the products that you plan to ship by air, and check the transportation information section. Pay particular attention to the specific information that pertains to shipments by air.

  • A hazardous material is defined as a substance or material that the Secretary of Transportation has determined is capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce, and has designated as hazardous under section 5103 of Federal hazardous materials transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5103). The term includes hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, marine pollutants, elevated temperature materials, materials designated as hazardous in the Hazardous Materials Table (see 49 Code of Federal Regualtions (CFR) § 172.101), and materials that meet the defining criteria for hazard classes and divisions in Part 173 of [the Hazardous Materials Regulations].

Step 2: If you determine that an item is a hazardous material, the FAA recommends that you perform a needs assessment analysis to determine which employees at your company will be performing a hazmat function and identify the level of training that is needed by the regulations.

Step 3: For most employees, training will include general and security awareness, safety, and function-specific training. Under the 49 CFR, a hazmat employee is required receive recurrent training every three years.

  • The lCAO Technical Instructions provide that the recurrent hazardous materials training requirements prescribed in Part L, Chapter 4, Section 4.2.3, "must take place within 24 months of previous training to ensure knowledge is current."
  • Hazmat employee is a person employed by a hazmat employer, or person who is self-employed, and who directly affects hazmat transportation safety including a person who:
    • loads, unloads, or handles hazmat;
    • designs, manufactures, fabricates, inspects, tests, reconditions, repairs, modifies, marks, or otherwise represents packagings as qualified for use in the transportation of hazmat;
    • prepares hazmat for transportation;
    • is responsible for safety of transporting hazmat; or
    • operates a vehicle used to transport hazmat.

Step 4: Have a trained employee look up the material in the Hazardous Materials Table to determine the authorized quantities permitted to be shipped, labels required, and the allowable packaging as per the 49 CFR Part 173 and the packing group.

Step 5: Determine the quantities and corresponding packaging requirements for your shipments. Depending on the packing group assigned to the hazardous material, UN-Specification packaging may be required.

  • The Packing Group is a grouping according to the degree of danger presented by hazardous materials. The performance level identifies the performance standard to successful testing of the packaging:
    • X – For packaging meeting Packing Group I, II and III test. (Packing Group I – Great Danger)
    • Y – For packaging meeting Packing Group II and III test. (Packing Group II – Medium Danger)
    • Z – For packaging meeting Packing Group III test. (Packing Group III – Minor Danger)

Step 6: If UN-Specification packaging (PDF) is required, read the package closure instructions carefully and obtain all the materials listed in instructions, such as tape, zip ties, poly bags, etc. Be sure to follow the information closely. Packages meeting UN specifications are tested with the materials listed in the closure instructions. Any variation from the manufacturer's instructions is a violation and could compromise the integrity of the package.

Step 7: Once you have the proper packaging, obtain the appropriate hazard communication, i.e., markings, labels, and shipping paper/shippers declaration. Generally, the Proper Shipping Name, the UN Number, and the shipper or consignees name and address are required to be marked on the package on the same surface as the label.

Step 8: Mark and label the package.

Step 9: If you are using a combination package, place the material in its inner packaging in accordance with the closure instructions. Then place the inner packaging in its authorized outer packaging and seal the package in accordance with the package closure instructions.

Step 10: Fill out the Shipper's Declaration (PDF) and affix it to the outside of the package in an unobstructed area. Be careful not to cover up any of the markings or labels.

Step 11: Your package is ready to be shipped.

Step 12: Keep the Shipper's Declaration on file for a period of two years.

Undeclared Hazardous Materials

The phrase "hazardous material" means a substance or material which has been determined by the Secretary of Transportation to be capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce.

The phrase "undeclared hazardous material" means a hazardous material that is required to be shipped with a shipping paper, marks, labels, or other hazard communication, but is shipped without any visible indication that a hazardous material is present in the package, freight container, vehicle, or on a shipping document.

The thought rarely crosses our minds, but many of the goods we use on a regular basis are actually hazardous materials. Without a doubt, hazardous materials are essential to our daily lives. From urgent medical samples and medicines, to cosmetics and personal care products. The most frequently shipped undeclared hazardous materials are consumer products (lithium batteries and devices, aerosols (e.g., spray adhesives, spray paints, hair spray, cleaners) and flammable liquids (e.g., acetone, perfume, certain paints)).

Do you own a company that ships consumer products? Do you mail holiday or birthday presents? Do you sell products online on e-commerce sites? If the answer is yes, then it is time for you to determine whether or not the products that you're shipping are hazardous.

More than 3 billion tons of regulated hazardous materials—including explosive, poison, corrosive, flammable, and radioactive materials—are known to be transported in the United States each year. When these materials are properly manufactured, packaged, labeled, handled and stowed, they can be transported safely; however, if they are not, they pose a risk to property, transportation workers, emergency responders, the general and traveling public and the environment because of the potential for accidents and incidents.

Shipping undeclared hazardous materials by air poses a significant risk. To mitigate the risk, shippers must know the hazards associated with the items they are offering. A good starting point for determining if your product might be hazardous is by obtaining a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) from the manufacturer and checking the Transportation Information section. This can provide valuable information on the transport risks related to your materials.

The Department of Transportation requires function-specific training and has developed a system of hazard communication which includes: visual markings and labels, which identify the potential hazards of a shipment; shipping papers and notices to pilots, which allow for proper segregation of potentially reactive chemicals and critical emergency response information; and specific packaging that is tested to withstand conditions typically encountered during transportation.

An improperly prepared shipment increases the risk to everyone in the supply chain. Lives, safety, property, and the environment all rely on the safe transportation of hazardous materials. No person or business wants the negative repercussions resulting from a hazardous materials aviation incident. Take the time to evaluate whether or not your shipment is hazardous and learn how to ship it safely. Federal Hazardous Materials experts believe that the most frequent explanation for undeclared shipments is a shipper's lack of knowledge--an unawareness or misunderstanding of the requirements for properly declaring and transporting Hazardous Materials.

If a shipment isn't properly classed, described, packaged, marked, labeled, and in condition for shipment as required or authorized; dot may issue civil penalties up to $77,114 or $463 for training violations. Frequent or knowingly violating the regulations may result in criminal prosecution. Criminal violations may result in fines, imprisonment, or both.

Examples Include:

  • Explosives
  • Gases
  • Flammable Liquids
  • Flammable Solids
  • Oxidizing Substances
  • Toxic & Infectious Substances
  • Radioactive Material
  • Corrosives
  • Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods

Learn more about these classes of HazMat (PDF).

Lithium Batteries

Before offering a hazardous material to an air carrier for shipment, the Hazardous Materials Regulations require YOU, the shipper, to properly classify, package, mark and label the package to identify the hazard. In addition, you may be subject to hazardous materials training under the regulations.

The intent of this guide is to provide a resource on what materials are considered hazardous and how to properly identify and package those materials and--once packaged, how to properly mark and label the package prior to offering the material to an air carrier. This guide is not intended to replace the regulatory requirements. It is for general guidance only and does not create any legally-enforceable rights or obligations.

Aerosols

Before offering a hazardous material to an air carrier for shipment, the Hazardous Materials Regulations require YOU, the shipper, to properly classify, package, mark and label the package to identify the hazard. In addition, you may be subject to hazardous materials training under the regulations.

The intent of this guide is to provide a resource on what materials are considered hazardous and how to properly identify and package those materials and--once packaged, how to properly mark and label the package prior to offering the material to an air carrier. This guide is not intended to replace the regulatory requirements. It is for general guidance only and does not create any legally-enforceable rights or obligations.

Flammable Liquids

Before offering a hazardous material to an air carrier for shipment, the Hazardous Materials Regulations require YOU, the shipper, to properly classify, package, mark and label the package to identify the hazard. In addition, you may be subject to hazardous materials training under the regulations.

The intent of this guide is to provide a resource on what materials are considered hazardous and how to properly identify and package those materials and--once packaged, how to properly mark and label the package prior to offering the material to an air carrier. This guide is not intended to replace the regulatory requirements. It is for general guidance only and does not create any legally-enforceable rights or obligations.

Resources

Hazmat Questions? For questions about hazardous materials (chemicals, batteries, battery-powered devices, gases, aerosols, flammables, etc.) you may contact the FAA Office of Hazardous Materials Safety via e-mail at hazmatinfo@faa.gov.

Below are links to some additional resources that can provide assistance:

Download and view lithium battery testing videos:

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This page was originally published at: https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/safe_cargo/