DOT Labeling Requirements and Updates You Need to Know

Identify Hazard- Transport

To protect transporters and motorist, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires the use of shipping markings, labels, and placards to ensure safe handling of hazardous materials.

Drivers transporting dangerous goods are required to identify hazardous contents to protect people sharing the road with them - including first responders. Per U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) DOT 49 CFR 172.504(a) “… each transport vehicle and freight container containing any quantity of a hazardous material must be placarded on each end and each side with the type of placards specified…”

The DOT requirements include the proper identification and classification of hazardous materials during transporting and shipping. These regulations (HM-181 & HM-206) can be further explored on The U.S. Department of Transportation website.

The Hazardous Materials Marking, Labeling, and Placarding Guide recently made changes per Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to DOT Chart 16:

  • Effective December 31, 2018 - Addition to the Lithium Battery (Class 9) handling marking old and new, and the transition date of for the old version.
  • Effective January 2019 - Addition of the Class 9 Label for Lithium battery handling.
  • Replacement of the yellow Organic Peroxide 5.2 Placard with red and yellow Organic Peroxide 5.2.

The DOT labels and placards identify the material within the proper classification. For complete information on labeling regulations, see 49 CFR, Part 172, Subpart E, or view the information here.

What are the nine hazard classifications used for identifying dangerous materials in transport vehicles?
The nine main hazard classifications have mandated color schemes, symbols, words, and numbers to identify the hazardous material. These DOT hazard labels and placards are printed in a square diamond format.
The nine hazard classifications are:

  • Hazard Class 1 = Explosives and Blasting Agents
  • Hazard Class 2 = Gases, Poison, Flammable, and Non-Flammable
  • Hazard Class 3 = Flammable Liquids
  • Hazard Class 4 = Flammable Solids
  • Hazard Class 5.1 = Oxidizer
  • Hazard Class 5.2 = Organic Peroxide
  • Hazard Class 6 =  Poisonous and Infectious Substances
  • Hazard Class 7 = Radioactive
  • Hazard Class 8 = Corrosive
  • Hazard Class 9 = Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods

Are drivers required to be trained on specific hazards prior to transporting them?

According to Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) officials, the requirements to have hazardous materials endorsement (HME) on your license are triggered by placarding. PHMSA requires yearly registration for anyone who offers or transports hazardous materials.

Additionally, transporters of class 9 hazmat must receive hazmat training. Per the Environmental, Health, and safety (EHS), the training must include general awareness, function-specific, safety, and security awareness training under PHMSA regulations as well as driver training in the applicable Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations and the procedures necessary for the safe operation of motor vehicles.

Please note: The PHMSA document is for general guidance only and should not be used to determine compliance with 49 CFR, Parts 100-185.

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