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Rules and Regulations

The Department of Transportation has a detailed classification system of materials that are dangerous when they are transported, which are known as the DOT hazard classifications. But how do DOT hazardous material transport regulations affect you? Simply as a member of the public, the regulations designed to keep the US up to par with international HazMat laws are a necessity. As a member of the medical profession, the changes that have occurred over the last several years affect your transport and disposal of medical waste products. Disposing, recycling, transporting disposal, and recycling techniques for medical waste of all types are intrinsically dependent on the transportation of hazardous materials in many cases.

The types of disposal techniques available may depend on the transport of hazardous or anatomical waste products and the state and federal rules and regulations governing this. Starting with knowledge of classifications and regulations from disposal to transport and then assessing the best disposal techniques in terms of safety, efficiency, and cost are vital. There are many intricate details of compliance regarding the transport of waste, medications, and other hazardous materials that can alter the way in which you transport these items.

Class Acts

Classes of materials have also been revised overall. To learn how many DOT hazard classes are there, read is an overview of each DOT hazard classification and their respective explanations and examples.

Hazard Class 1 represents explosives and has been split up into six different varieties. These DOT hazardous materials include:
The first division includes mass explosion hazards, such as blasting explosives and dynamite.
Projection-based explosives that aren’t mass explosions, including hand grenades.
Fire hazards like fireworks, flash powder, and similar products.
Explosives that aren’t significant blast hazards, which include consumer-grade fireworks and the motors for model rockets.
The fifth division consists of insensitive explosives that can be a mass explosion hazard, like certain fuel oil mixtures.
Incredibly insensitive explosive substances that don’t have a mass explosion hazard.

Hazard Class 2, compressed gasses, are also divided into different divisions. These three include: Propane, spray paint, and other flammable gases that burn in the air. Cryogenic liquids or liquified gasses such as helium that are non-flammable.
Poisonous gasses that are toxic to humans who ingest them, like carbon monoxide.

Hazard Class 3 Flammable Liquids, which have a flashpoint, or temperature of ignition, of less than or equal to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Such combustible liquids include paints, perfumes, gasoline, ethanol, and more.

Hazard Class 4 represents flammable solids. Their three divisions include: Matches and solid desensitized explosives comprise flammable solids. Substances that are prone to spontaneously combust, which means they can be ignited without heat from external sources. They include materials like oily rags. The third category of flammable solids are substances that emit flammable gases when wet, such as Barium, making them highly dangerous near water.

Hazard Class 5, Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides, which are divided into two categories: Materials and substances that can oxidize other substances, like calcium chlorate or hydrogen peroxide. Organic peroxides such as Ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which are composed of both an oxidizing material and an organic material, making them thermally unstable and dangerous.

Hazard Class 6, Toxic Materials, are poisonous hazards that have been split up into two varieties: A solid or liquid that is toxic to humans when inhaled or ingested orally or dermally. This can include recreational drugs like nicotine or medication that is toxic in high doses, like coumadin. The second section of toxic materials consists of materials that are known or expected to harbor a pathogen, including medical waste and virus test samples.

Hazard Class 7, Radioactive Material, with subheadings for classification purposes of Radioactive I , Radioactive II, and Radioactive III. While these can include radioactive substances like uranium, many everyday items can also contain radioactive materials, such as x-ray equipment or exit signs.

Hazard Class 8 pertains to Corrosive Material that can cause destruction of the human skin while being either of a high PH or a low PH. Such materials include degreasers and battery acid.

Hazard Class 9 refers to miscellaneous material that can present a shipping hazard but doesn’t meet the definitions of the other classes. As this is meant to address substances that don’t fit into any of the previous categories but still induce pain and cause discomfort during transportation, those who wish to learn how many dot hazard classes are there will be grateful that Class 9 includes so many niche hazards, as the list of potential classes would extend far beyond just nine.

Regardless of the type of DOT hazard classification, if a shipment contains hazardous material, Hazmat General Shipping Procedures must be followed. And what are these? First, one must determine if the chemicals being shipped or offered for shipment are listed in Hazmat Table 49 CFR Subpart B, 172.101. In this document, all hazardous waste is defined as “A substance or material that the Secretary of Transportation has determined is capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce, and has designated as hazardous under section 5103 of the Federal Hazardous Materials Transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5103).” Hazardous Material Table Next, the task is to refer to the information contained in the hazardous materials table, indicating the mode of transportation, descriptions and proper shipping names, class and division, as well as UN/NA identification number. The packing group, labels, special provisions, and packaging requirements are also described. There is also information referring to air or land transportation.

Packaging systems approved by the United Nations Transportation Board must also be used as they’re designed to prevent any hazardous material from escaping during transport. And correct markings and labeling are required for hazardous material shipment. If proper packaging and labeling are not employed? Well, naturally, the package may not be delivered to their destination, but there are worse possibilities afoot, other than the obvious health hazards for those handling or transporting the packages. For example, senders could be subjected to fines or even prison sentencing. Personal liability for any health risks that occur in transport is also possible.

Learn and Stay Safe

That’s a substantial risk for shippers to be taking, and arguably no one would undertake such a risk or create such a hazard willingly. However – that’s the risk medical shippers take if staff is not properly trained in compliance measures, which of course is where MedTrainer can help. No time to instruct on numeric hazard class or packing techniques? Then MedTrainer’s proven teaching strategies can provide uniform training for all staff and cover both compliance and safety issues in one fell swoop. Just the correct completion of shipping papers required for hazardous shipments can take some getting used to. Certainly, DOT shipping descriptions may be a given, but did you know that includes items such as dry ice? Yes, dry ice is a class 9 miscellaneous hazard that is classified by both DOT and IATA as a material that includes explosion, suffocation, and contact hazard. As a class 9 hazard, dry ice is another material that requires a hazardous material declaration form to be attached to any shipment regardless of what else that shipment contains. And dry ice packaging must allow the release and venting of the gaseous carbon dioxide the ice contain – styrofoam box, cardboard outer cover, with a label indicating dry ice enclosed. All of this plus any required markings if the dry ice accompanies another hazardous material.

Now you may feel that some of this labeling, categorizing, packaging, and more are onerous tasks, but they are designed for safety. The reason for fines and for the necessary compliance in the first place is to protect shippers, senders, handlers, and receivers from the hazards transported products may contain. In the same way, hazardous waste transporters themselves must follow their own requirements in order to be allowed to treat, recycle, store, or dispose of hazardous materials.

Safety First

The Department of Transportation regulations for the transport of hazardous materials is critical for safety across the board, and stringent adherence to DOT guidelines and regulations is monitored. That means medical, dental, pharmacological, and veterinary staff members responsible for shipping hazardous materials, whether a medical product or a waste product, are also going to be carefully monitored. It’s now a federal requirement that anyone preparing hazardous materials for transport must be trained before doing so and retrained every three years.

To prevent problems from health hazards to fines and monitoring, the best path is getting staff up to speed on DOT requirements and changes in regulations that have taken place in recent years. An active compliance plan isn’t just another path to be followed here. It’s a necessity for the health and safety of your business and co-workers. Proper training and an effective compliance plan is a way of life where DOT regulations are concerned.