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FAQs: Is it OK to identify an article or substance as a hazardous material when it is not?

FAQs: Is it OK to identify an article or substance as a hazardous material when it is not?

Common Scenario:

Package for UN2794

This had better be a Class 8 Corrosive!

ompany A has a product X they wish to ship.  Product X does not meet the definition of a hazardous material but for various reasons (e.g. Company B ships a similar product and they classify it as HazMat, product X looks like it may be a HazMat, customer of Company A thinks product X is HazMat, Company A prefers to play it safe and ship product X as HazMat despite evidence to the contrary, &etc.) Company A chooses to ship product X as a hazardous material subject to full regulation under the PHMSA/USDOT Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR).  Is that OK?

Answer:

No it is not!  Though it may seem to be a safe option to ship something as a hazardous material when it is not, “What could go wrong?  We’re ‘playing it safe’ and being overly conservative.”  the HMR makes clear at 49 CFR 171.2(k) that this is not an option:

No person may, by marking or otherwise, represent that a hazardous material is present in a package, container, motor vehicle, rail car, aircraft, or vessel if the hazardous material is not present.

In other words, it is a violation to indicate a hazardous material is present in a package or vehicle when it is not.

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