Hazmat Training 101

 In Industry Insider, Trans-Border Global Freight Systems, Inc.


What Is It and Who Needs to Obtain It?

The recent industrial accident at the port of Tianjin, China underscores the continued need for safety training in the global supply chain. This need is particularly important for shipments of Hazardous Materials, also known outside the U.S. as Dangerous Goods.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) most shipping incidents involving “Hazmat” are the result of human error.  Regardless of who or what was at fault in Tianjin, it is obvious that a shipment of Hazardous Materials can occasionally have deadly and tragic results, thus making proper training an imperative for all parties involved. Now would be an opportune time for your company to review the requirements for Hazmat training and to whom they apply.

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Hazardous Materials believed to be the cause of explosion at Tianjin Port, China. At least 56 people have been killed and hundreds of others severely injured.

Let’s get three things about “Hazmat training” out of the way quickly:

  1. This training is only meant to prepare you for the act of shipping Hazmat.  The focus is on topics such as packaging, labeling, placarding, and anything else pertaining to transportation*.
  2. There are both domestic and international training requirements for shipping hazmat. The DOT’s domestic requirements are of primary importance to shippers in the U.S. and can be found here.
  3. Subject matter covered in training will differ depending on the mode of transportation utilized (air, ocean, ground, etc.). Being trained to ship hazmat via ground will not guarantee compliance for an air or ocean shipment of the same product.

So now that you know what Hazmat training is you’re probably wondering if it’s something your company needs.  For most shippers this is simply a matter of whether or not you ever ship hazmat (be it your own product or another company’s product you want to re-ship).  If this is the case, then one or more individuals in your company (known as “Hazmat employees”) will need training that prepares them for the shipping tasks they undertake.  You can take one of two approaches to get your employees trained; self-training within your company, or training by a designated third party.  While many companies choose the latter option, the DOT does provide some online materials for those companies wishing to train internally.

Hazmat training is an important legal requirement that all shippers should carefully consider.  Not only does failure to train carry severe penalties, but doing so can also decrease the efficiency and speed with which you can ship various common products that are regulated as Hazmat.

*Be aware that other forms of training may be required for the actual use of hazardous chemicals within your workplace (i.e. OSHA training). This training is generally not designed to prepare one for the shipment of Hazardous Materials as regulated by the DOT.

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