49 CFR 177.834(a) requires packages of hazardous materials to be secured against shifting within the vehicle and between the packages under normal transportation conditions. If you offer a hazardous material for transportation (a shipper) to be transported by another company (a carrier), you may be surprised to learn that the shipper may be fined instead of or along with the carrier if the shipment of HazMat is found to be improperly secured.
This is because any person who performs, or is responsible for performing, a regulated function – such as loading and securing packages of hazardous materials on a truck – is responsible for compliance with all the applicable requirements of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).
Example: Employees of Company A (the shipper) load packages of hazardous materials on a truck as an employee of Company B (the carrier) looks on. After loading the Company B employee secures the load, while Company A employees confirm the vehicles readiness for transportation. Since both the shipper and the carrier were involved in the loading operation, both are responsible for compliance with all applicable requirements of the HMR, including 49 CFR 177.834(a). Refer to PHMSA interpretation letter 04-0082 for more information on this point.
What, then, are the regulatory requirements for securing a load of hazardous materials in a motor vehicle? Unfortunately, a specific method is not defined in the HMR. Agency interpretations indicate the regulatory requirements,”are met when the packages of hazardous materials are secured in a manner that precludes their movement within the transport vehicle, and between the packages themselves, under conditions normally incident to transportation.” (02-0044) Lacking a specific explanation of the proper methods in the HMR, the regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) at 49 CFR 393.100-106 includes general requirements for the protection of shifting cargo.
If you are concerned about your responsibility to secure hazardous materials in transportation and need more information I suggest you contact the PHMSA in writing to request an interpretation for your specific situation. 10-0046 is an example of just such a letter you may use as a guide for yours. You can read here for the PHMSA requirments for the submittal of a letter requesting an interpretation.
If you are interested in topics such as this, then you must be a HazMat Employer with HazMat Employees to train. I provide HazMat Employee training and RCRA training for hazardous waste personnel in open enrollment events held nationwide and year round and on-site. Please contact me for a free consultation of your training needs.