In today's hyper-competitive shipping and logistics ecosystem, delivering critical merchandise to private and public entities is fraught with challenges. Clients demand rapid shipping and delivery, unparalleled supply chain transparency, and best-in-class tracking capabilities — not to mention world-class products and services. When the materials you're shipping are hazardous, those shipping challenges multiply. Suddenly, you need to contend with a swarm of regulatory/liability requirements and the looming threat of fines, reputation damage, employee health, and safety frictions.
For most companies, this can seem impossible. Luckily, working with the right hazmat-certified packaging house can give you the tools, resources, and experience you need to successfully package and ship your hazardous materials. But how do you know if you need hazmat certification, and how do you choose the right packaging house?
Understanding Hazmat Certification
Hazardous materials (or "Hazmat") include dangerous materials that could pose a threat to the environment or humans. All hazardous materials handled, packaged, sorted, loaded, shipped, and unloaded must meet stringent regulatory requirements on a local, state, and federal level. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) both have specific regulatory requirements, which can get incredibly dense and complicated. Contrary to popular belief, hazardous materials are incredibly common, and the DOT's Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) include a wide variety of materials, including:
- Explosive materials (e.g., airbags, flares, gunpowder, etc.)
- Non-flammable & flammable gases (e.g., lighters, propane, portable stoves, haircare products, etc.)
- Flammable liquids & flammable solids (e.g., alcohol, varnish, paint, matches, etc.)
- Corrosive materials (e.g., batteries, paint, thermometers, etc.)
- Infectious substances (e.g., blood samples, pharmaceutical cultures or assays, etc.)
- Poisonous materials (e.g., medicine, pesticides, etc.)
- Radioactive materials (e.g., smoke alarms, paint, etc.)
- and a wide variety of other materials.
From batteries and dry ice to magnetized materials and first aid kits, over 15 percent of all transported goods are considered hazardous. According to the DOT, "no person may offer or accept a hazardous material for transportation in commerce unless that person is registered in conformance with subpart G of Part 107." So, compliance with DOT regulations isn't optional. Fines and penalties related to regulatory missteps can reach $250,000 per offense (including seizure of goods), and those costs don't include reputation damage, workflow disruption, and miscellaneous or intangible costs. Worse yet, the DOT increases penalties based on prior offenses, and costs can increase by 100% of the maximum if you've experienced a fine before.
Navigating Hazmat Requirements
The DOT strictly enforces HMR requirements down to the smallest detail. As an example, the last three reported public HMR violations include fines for:
- Allowing an employee to work around HMRs when "the employee had not received initial hazardous materials general awareness/familiarization."¹
- Obscured limited quantity marking on packaging²
- The use of non-UN specification packaging when UN specification packaging was required³
In other words, safety surrounding transportation isn't the only punishable action. Missed packaging requirements, misunderstood packaging types, and training can all swiftly lead to fines and your company's name on the DOT "wall-of-shame." Unfortunately, a large percentage of hazmat fines aren't due to malicious behavior. Many companies simply struggle to comply with standards, and others have no idea that they're shipping hazardous materials.
For example, did you know that you have to use hyper-specific packaging depending on the type of material you're shipping? The packaging labeling, materials, and structure all play a role in hazmat compliance. In addition, you must provide the proper employee training, use the right shipping documents, and perform the correct loading, unloading, and transportation strategies.
To alleviate these headaches, many companies team up with hazmat-certified packaging houses. These third-party packaging and logistics companies are capable of handling hazardous materials properly, and they can minimize the regulatory weight of DOT HMR requirements.
Choosing the Right Packaging House for Hazardous Materials
If you want to package and ship hazardous materials to private or public entities, you must work with a hazmat-certified packaging house. At a minimum, your packaging house should be capable of shipping materials according to 49 CFR, IATA, and IMDG regulations. For example, Mayer Alloys Corporation meets the regulatory packaging requirements, and is certified and specialize in packaging hazardous materials. Choosing the right packaging and logistics partner is also important for throughput and safety. You get to cut costs associated with keeping abreast of compliance requirements, but you also tap into the skills and expertise of your third-party provider. It's a win-win. Choosing the right packaging and logistics partner is also important for throughput and safety. You get to cut costs associated with keeping abreast of compliance requirements, but you also tap into the skills and expertise of your third-party provider. It's a win-win and an extension for your team.
Are you looking for a hazmat-certified packaging partner? Mayer Alloys Corporation brings the experience, capabilities, and strategies you need to execute small or large-scale packaging, warehousing, and distribution projects.
Mayer Alloys Corporation brings together the resources to meet your manufacturing, assembly and supply chain needs. From metal distribution specializing in tin and lead products, to mil-spec, contract and hazmat packaging, warehouse and distribution services and electronic waste and scrap metal recycling. Contact us today to see how we can meet your needs!