Compliance Resource Bulletins

What to Know About Department of Transportation Hazardous Material Signs

Chemical / Hazmat / Pipeline, Compliance Resource Bulletins, Roadway / Transportation

Our Department of Transportation Hazardous Material Signs Compliance – Resource Bulletin will help you understand some of the rules and regulations regarding sign requirements for the transportation of hazardous materials. Topics include:

  • Labels or placards
  • Basic shape
  • Hazard classification
  • Sign elements
  • Links to relevant regulations

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Bulletin Overview

The Hazardous Material Transportation Act (HMTA) became law in 1975 for the purpose of providing protection against the dangers inherent in the transportation of hazardous material in commerce. The Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) specifies requirements for the safe transportation of hazardous materials in the United States via aircraft, rail car, marine vessels, and motor vehicles. The regulations are administered by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and its subsidiary agencies. The HMR are found in Title 49, Parts 171-180 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

The HMR applies to all persons involved in the packaging, loading, and transport of hazardous materials. These materials are defined in the regulation’s Hazardous Materials Table. The table lists and classifies several thousand commonly transported hazardous materials. It also specifies requirements for the packaging, labeling, and transportation of each material. A material’s particular hazard is communicated through shipping documents, packaging markings and labels, and placards displayed on transport vehicles. The purpose of labeling and placarding is to inform emergency responders of the types of hazards present so they can properly mitigate a hazardous materials incident or accident. (49 CFR 172.101, 172.3)