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Proper Placement and Orientation of Labels for the Transportation of Hazardous Materials in Non-Bulk Packaging

Proper Placement and Orientation of Labels for the Transportation of Hazardous Materials in Non-Bulk Packaging

Pursuant to the PHMSA/USDOT Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR) at 49 CFR 172.400, each person who offers for transportation or transports a hazardous material in any of the following packages or containment devices shall label them as specified in Column 6 of the hazardous materials table at §172.101:

  • A non-bulk package.
  • A bulk packaging, other than a cargo tank, portable tank, or tank car, with a volumetric capacity of less than 18 m3 (640 cubic feet), unless placarded in accordance with subpart F of this part.
  • A portable tank of less than 3,785 L (1000 gallons) capacity, unless placarded in accordance with subpart F of this part.
  • A DOT Specification 106 or 110 multi-unit tank car tank, unless placarded in accordance with subpart F of this part.
  • An overpack, freight container or unit load device, of less than 18 m3 (640 cubic feet), which contains a package for which labels are required, unless placarded or marked in accordance with §172.512 of this part.

The purpose of this article is to reveal an interpretation of the HMR that allows for some variability in the placement and orientation of HazMat Labels on non-bulk packages.

Pursuant to 49 CFR 172.406 each HazMat Label on a non-bulk packaging must be:

  • Printed on or affixed to a surface (other than the bottom) of the package or containment device containing the hazardous material.  Top surface is OK.
  • Located on the same surface of the package and near the proper shipping name marking, if the package dimensions are adequate.
  • A label may be printed on or placed on a securely affixed tag, or may be affixed by other suitable means to:
    • A package that is smaller than the label as long as it contains no radioactive material.
    • A cylinder.
    • An irregular package where a label cannot be satisfactorily affixed.
  • Each label must be printed on or affixed to a background of contrasting color, or must have a dotted or solid line outer border.
  • When primary and subsidiary hazard labels are required, they must be displayed within 6 inches of one another.
  • Duplicate labeling – more than one label per package – is not required unless it contains a Class 7 Radioactive material.
  • A label must be clearly visible and may not be obscured by markings or attachments.

So, is this OK?

Orientation of a label on a HazMat packaging

Is this OK for the orientation of a HazMat Label?

The answer is yes.  Pursuant to a letter of interpretation from 1994 (LOI 94-0142):

The requirements of 49 CFR 172.406 do not prohibit the placement of labels in an orientation where the square-on-point label is located with its flat sides parallel to the sides of the package.

This interpretation represents an aspect of the HMR that continues to interest me.  Such an interpretation means little to 99% of the HazMat Shippers out there, but to those few who need it, the ability to turn the HazMat Label on its side allows them to use a smaller package which could result in a substantial cost-savings.

Are you saving all the money you can on HazMat transportation?  Are you in compliance with the HMR?  Especially the requirement at 49 CFR 172, Subpart H to provide initial (within 90 days of hire) training with another full training within 3 years for all HazMat Employees?

Don’t hesitate to contact me for a free training consultation.

Daniels Training Services

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