How To Stay Within Hazmat Compliance

| By: Mitchell Schena

When it comes to shipping hazardous materials and dangerous goods, there is absolutely no room for error. Many of the materials that are being shipped, whether by plane or truck, are extremely dangerous and, if not handled correctly and within the confines of hazmat compliance, can lead to disastrous accidents potentially costing lives.

That is why there are so many rules and regulations that are in place to make sure that everything is in order and everything is up to code. If not, your shipment will be rejected and your shipment will not reach it’s destination.

Staying with hazmat compliance

The hazardous materials regulations instilled by the Department of Transportation (DOT) is not only wordy and intricate, it needs to be followed in order for a smooth shipping process. Staying within the confines of hazmat compliance is critical for shipping companies to get their client’s cargo to where it needs to.

It is very common, however,  for shipping companies to make mistakes without realizing it that leads to rejection.

From not being aware of the differences of between regulations for shipping via land versus air to failing to correctly label a package, mistakes are going to happen.

Here are some tips that will help you stay within hazmat compliance:

Identify the mode of transportation and know the ins-and-outs

First and foremost, it is pivotal for the shipping employees to recognize and abide by the differences that each mode of transportation requires.

Assuming anything without being completely certain is a recipe for disaster in the shipping industry as it can easily lead to safety issues or legal troubles that could possibly cost the life of your business.

There are unique risks associated with each mode of transportation and ensuring that each employee knows what those are will better your chances of not being rejected.

For example, something that might be able to be shipped via land might have completely different regulations over sea, and vice versa.

A list of documents that are necessary for making sure your shipment is within hazmat compliance with codes and regulations are as followed:

  • Ground: 49 CFR Parts 100-185 including specific provisions of Part 177
  • Domestic Air using non-IATA operator: 49 CFR Parts 100-185 including specific provisions of Part 175
  • Domestic Air using an IATA operator: IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations
  • International Air:  ICAO Technical Instructions or IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (if operator policy)
  • Domestic water:  49 CFR Parts 100-185 including specific provisions of Part 176
  • International Water:  International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Regulations
  • Rail:  49 CFR Parts 100-185 including specific provisions of Part 174


hazmat compliance explosive sign


Assuming that an “everyday” item is safe & not hazardous

It’s fairly reasonable to assume that not everyone is aware of the hazard level of every substance and every material.

It’s also fair to assume that some of those people are responsible for deciding whether or not a shipment is deemed hazardous or dangerous.

That is why shipping employers must make sure their employees are properly trained so they are able to recognize and act accordingly.

Again, it is NEVER okay to assume ANYTHING in the shipping industry, especially with dangerous goods, because it can lead to horrific accidents.

Here is a list of consistently overlooked items that are indeed hazardous:

  • Patient specimens
  • Genetically-modified micro-organisms and organisms
  • Environmental samples for analysis
  • Dry ice
  • Batteries (lithium, button, or gel cell)
  • Scientific instruments with compressed gas cartridges/canisters/cylinders
  • Equipment with compressed air chambers or pistons
  • Electronic devices/ computer equipment with lithium ion or lithium metal batteries installed
  • Contaminated medical equipment and devices
  • Pneumatic accumulators
  • Charged capacitors
  • Magnetized materials
  • Devices with fuel cells
  • Engines with fuel


workers repackaging for hazmat compliance


Handling Returns

Storing, handling, and transporting hazardous materials can entail regulations without those in charge even being aware of it.

For example a worker might personally self-transport material that is deemed hazardous from one location to another for company use without being aware of the fact that it is still expected to follow all the codes and regulations that it normally would under other circumstances.

Violating transportation codes and regulations would lead to significant fines and legal trouble.

Another example would be if a shipping company, similar to DGD Hazmat, accepts a package only to later be notified that it needs to be returned to the supplier.

The company that receives the package could potentially not be aware that the items are hazardous and wouldn’t treat the delivery process as such.

These are all examples of strict violations of hazmat compliance that can lead to, again, catastrophic disasters that can put countless people at risk.

worker safely packaging for hazmat compliance

Hazmat Checklist

At the end of the day, your company should be able to confidently respond to all of the following questions with the answer yes.

  • Employees are able to distinguish all materials commonly misconceived to be nonhazardous including computer equipment with lithium batteries, devices with charged fuel cells, etc.
  • Employees who ship materials are familiar with all of the regulatory requirements that govern the various modes of transportation for both domestic and international shipments.
  • All employees are trained in the proper protocol for preparing items and arranging for transport including shipments by self-transport, shipments being returned to the sender, and shipments being taken by a courier.
  • All employees are aware of the serious consequences of improper shipping including penalties and citations, rejected shipments, damaged equipment and vehicles, and even serious injury or death.
  • Only employees who have demonstrated adequate training, qualification, and competency are allowed to prepare hazardous materials shipments.


The best way to go about these complications is to make sure you employ a transportation company that has years of experience and ensures that every employee is trained and certified and well knowledgable in the respected area.

If you are in need of transporting hazardous materials, don’t hesitate to contact us for the most competitive quotes in the hazmat industry.