Moving hazardous materials (HAZMAT) around America and around the world is an essential part of everyday life.
Despite the name, HAZMAT-labelled items are essential for medicine, industry, the economy, and just about anything else you can think of. That’s why safe and orderly HAZMAT transportation is essential, for the safety of people and the environment.
Despite this, the number of transportation spills involving hazardous materials has doubled over the past decade. The human and social costs of such spills can be devastating.
That’s why we all have a responsibility to understand the essentials of transporting hazardous materials. Here’s what you need to know.
HAZMAT regulations are both global and national. At a global level, the United Nations (UN) and the International Standards Organization (ISO) govern how HAZMAT is moved around the world.
They agree on frameworks for moving, storing, labeling, and documenting these materials.
They also decide which materials count as “hazardous” at this level. In the US, HAZMAT safety regulations are determined by the Department of Transport (DOT).
Specifically, DOT regulations are drawn up and overseen by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
So, what regulations are we talking about here? The most important ones concern the packaging and labeling of hazardous materials, so people know what they are handling.
There are universal, consistent labels and icons for different types of HAZMAT. There are symbols that communicate the exact type of hazard a material poses to health or the environment.
There are also strict rules about the materials and HAZMAT can be stored inside. Then there are rules about the conditions HAZMAT can be held in. All of these must be followed to the letter.
People have an essential role to play when moving HAZMAT. This is why mandatory training is a huge part of all regulations in this area. For example, anyone transporting HAZMAT by air should complete DOT aviation HAZMAT training online.
This covers all of the training needed to safely move all hazardous materials across the US by air routes.
It is essential not just for pilots, but for anyone involved in checking manifests, working on the tarmac, and acting as personnel in any capacity during the journey.
This underscores that, when it comes to HAZMAT transportation, everyone has an important role to play.
Hazardous materials don’t just pose a danger from accidental spillage. They can also fall into the wrong hands. Thieves or terrorists can use HAZMAT to wreak havoc. This is why security and stringent inspections are built into HAZMAT regulations.
Regulatory agencies have full power to protect and inspect HAZMAT shipments at any time and can do so when armed. They will also frequently run background checks on personnel involved in large shipments.
On top of this, DOT can enforce compliance through fines, sanctions, and even jail time for those who jeopardize security.
HAZMAT transportation might seem like a hidden challenge for other people.
However, this is not the case. HAZMAT incidents affect everyone, and anyone who comes into contact with HAZMAT has a role to play in its safe transportation.
While incidents have been on the rise, regulatory agencies are constantly looking for solutions. The challenges might be as old as time, but a world where HAZMAT is not a threat is possible.
To stay on top of the emerging solutions to industry challenges, we have got you covered. Make sure to consult our expertly-curated Business pages for the low down on how industries are surviving and thriving in 2023 and beyond.