All regulations begin with a law and the Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR) of the PHMSA/USDOT is no exception. The Federal hazardous materials transportation law (49 USC 5101 et seq.) directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish regulations for the safe and secure transportation of HazMat in commerce, as the Secretary considers appropriate. The applicability of the HMR (to whom and to what materials it applies and when) is defined by regulation at 49 CFR 171.1 and explained in this article.
The Secretary of Transportation is authorized to apply the HMR to persons who:
- Transport a HazMat in commerce (ie. the carrier).
- Cause a HazMat to be transported in commerce. This could be a shipper or a receiver of hazardous material. Basically anyone who enters into an agreement with a carrier to transport a hazardous material.
- Have anything to do with the design, manufacture, testing, etc. of a HazMat packaging.
- Indicates by marking or other means that a HazMat is present in transportation when it is not.
- Tampers with a HazMat packaging or one of the four Hazard Communication Methods.
While it appears in the regulations, the above is meant as guidance for the PHMSA/USDOT in developing the HMR. For the regulatory description of HMR applicability to specific persons and activities we must look at 49 CFR 171.1, which indicates that the requirements of the HMR apply to:
- Each person who manufactures, fabricates, marks, maintains, reconditions, repairs, or tests a packaging or component of a packaging to be used for the transportation in commerce of a hazardous material.
- Each person who:
- Offers a HazMat for transportation,
- Causes a HazMat to be transported, or;
- Transports a HazMat, and in addition to one of these three activities;
- Performs a pre-transportation function as described at [49 CFR 171.1(b)(1-14)]. I will write more about pre-transportation functions in a later article.
- The transportation of a HazMat in commerce and to each person who transports a HazMat in commerce. In general, a HazMat is in transportation from the moment a carrier takes physical possession of it until it is delivered to its destination. Transportation includes:
- Movement of the HazMat by rail car, aircraft, motor vehicle, or vessel.
- Loading and unloading for transport when performed by or in the presence of carrier personnel.
- Storage of the HazMat that takes place after the carrier has taken possession of it but before delivery to its destination.
Functions that are not subject to the HMR are identified at §171.1(d) and will be the subject of a later article.
In my experience the biggest obstacle to gaining compliance with the HMR for most companies is grasping the scope of these regulations and how it applies to their operations. Please contact me if you have any questions about the HMR and whether or not you are subject to it.