A Guide to HAZMAT Trucking Responsibilities

HAZMAT trucking is defined as the transportation of radioactive, flammable, explosive or even poisonous materials. However, did you know these items are hidden in plain sight? From designer paint brands to batteries and household cleaners, their journey from the manufacturer to the end consumer was anything but simple. 

According to federal regulations, all HAZMAT goods must be labeled, classified, defined, marked and prepared for transport. Today, we’ll explore some common HAZMAT trucking requirements and outline the key responsibilities between shippers and carriers.


1. Shipping Papers

If you’re transporting hazardous materials, DOT and PHMSA require shipping papers. A shipping paper is a document that fulfills the requirements outlined by Subpart C and is accompanied by a “basic description.” This description includes the identification number, proper shipping name, hazard class and packing group when applicable.

It’s important to note that some shipments require a specific type of shipping paper. For example, the transportation of hazardous waste would require a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest.


2. Markings

Carriers refer to markings when transporting goods to ensure proper handling. Just like labels, markings provide information on the goods being transported and the safety precautions that need to be taken during transit

Markings identify a material using proper shipping names, UN numbers or other descriptions. Unlike labels, though, markings aren’t specific to a certain style. However, they must be 49 CFR compliant and not be obscured by any other markings or labels.

Depending on the hazardous material, there may be additional HAZMAT trucking requirements. For example, for non-bulk packaging, technical names must be marked in parenthesis in association with the proper shipping name.


3. Labels

Labels are standard HAZMAT identifiers designed to meet federal regulations and placed on UN certified packaging and overpacks. Labels further clarify handling requirements and inform carriers where to place packages on the trucks. Emergency responders also use labels during accident or evacuation scenarios.

There are nine classes of hazardous materials and each label differs in size, shape and color. They should be attached, as close to the proper shipping name and UN number as possible – ever folding around the corner or obstructed. The UN number must also be present on the documents as well.


4. Placards

In contrast, placards are larger than labels and usually placed on bulk packages or transport vehicles. They inform the general public of the safety hazards on board during transportation. In an accident scenario, if shipping papers aren’t available, a placard helps emergency responders identify the material involved.

If you’re shipping hazardous materials, you’re responsible for providing the carrier with the proper placards unless they already have the correct ones on the vehicle. HAZMAT placards must measure 250mm on all sides, include the class number in the bottom corner and be placed on all four sides of the vehicle.

Now that you have a better understanding of the required documents involved in HAZMAT trucking, you may be wondering, “Who’s in charge of what?” Generally, a shipper refers to the person or business transporting the materials while the carrier is the one handling and transporting HAZMAT freight to the final destination. Here are the key responsibilities of each party outlined by FMCSA.

HAZMAT Shipper Responsibilities

  • Proper shipping name
  • Class/division
  • Identification number
  • Hazard warning label
  • Packaging
  • Markings
  • Employee training
  • Shipping papers
  • Emergency response information
  • Certification
  • Compatibility
  • Blocking and bracing
  • Placarding
  • Security plan
  • Incident reporting
  • Loading and unloading
  • Blocking and bracing

HAZMAT Carrier Responsibilities

  • Shipping papers
  • Placarding
  • Markings
  • Incident reporting
  • Security plan
  • Employee training


In Summary

In summary, labels are HAZMAT identifiers used to meet certain specifications and are placed on packages or overpacks. Placards are placed on outer containers, trucks and cylinders while markings are used to further describe the package.

Whether you’re hiring a HAZMAT trucking company or managing a fleet of your own, it’s important to have deep understanding of the documents and responsibilities involved in transporting hazardous materials.

For more information about HAZMAT trucking and the regulations involved with shipping your goods, we invite you to reach out to us today at (847) 789-7132 or here to request a freight quote.


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The Ultimate Guide to Managing HAZMAT Freight