Hazardous materials (hazmat) fines can run in the tens of thousands of dollars. Drivers, as well as the company, may be subject to fines.
 - Photo courtesy of FEMA

Hazardous materials (hazmat) fines can run in the tens of thousands of dollars. Drivers, as well as the company, may be subject to fines.

Photo courtesy of FEMA

"We do not transport hazardous materials, and none of our trucks are close to 1,000 pounds of anything hazardous!" Does this statement sound familiar?

Unfortunately, many companies confuse the Materials of Trade (MOT) limit with quantities greater than regulations allow. This lack of understanding can be very costly. Hazardous materials (hazmat) fines can run in the tens of thousands of dollars. Drivers, as well as the company, may be subject to fines.

MOT exceptions can be found in the Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR), 49 CFR 173.6. Mandatory compliance with this section was required by October 1, 1998.

Who Does Materials of Trade (MOT) Affect? 

Many organizations transport limited quantities of hazardous materials in support of their business. Examples include utility, construction, welding, lawn care, plumbing, building maintenance, or other service-related organizations. These companies may use products such as spray paints, lubricants, and welding gases or gasoline classified as hazmat. For example, gasoline used by a lawn care company is a flammable liquid, classified as a hazardous material according to the HMR.

MOT exceptions allow non-transportation companies to transport limited quantities of hazardous material. These materials must meet specific guidelines to be classified as a MOT. Materials transported using this exception are exempted from shipping papers, placarding, emergency response information, and certain training requirements.

That being said, the exceptions do not apply to the following hazard types:

  • Self-reactive (HMR 49 CFR 172.124).
  • Poisonous by inhalation (HMR 49 CFR 173.133).
  • Hazardous waste (HMR 49 CFR 171.8).

What Qualifies as a 'MOT'?

MOTs are hazardous materials transported on a motor vehicle for the following purposes:

  • To protect the health and safety of the driver and passenger.
  • To support the operation or maintenance of the vehicle (including auxiliary equipment).
  • To support the primary business of a private motor carrier or vehicles operated by a rail carrier that is not transported by a motor vehicle.

For a hazardous material to be considered a MOT, it must meet specific quantity limits and hazard classifications. The material must belong to one of the hazard classes in Table 1.

Table 1: Hazard Classes

Division 2.1: Flammable Gas
Division 2.2: Non-flammable Gas
Class 3: Flammable Liquid
Division 4.1: Flammable Solid
Division 4.3 PG II or PG III: Dangerous When Wet
Division 5.1: Oxidizer
Division 5.2: Organic Peroxide
Division 6.1: Poison
Class 8: Corrosive
Class 9: Miscellaneous
ORM-D: Other Regulated Material

Quantity limits. Hazard classes 3, 8, 9: division 4.1, 5.1, 6.1, and ORM-D quantities include gross mass or capacity and are inclusive of the weight of the packaging.

  • PG I: Not to exceed one lb. (0.5 kg) or one pint (0.5 L).
  • PG II, III or ORM-D: Not to exceed 66 lbs. (30 kg) or eight gallons (30 L).
  • Diluted mixtures of a Class 9 (misc.): Not over 2-percent concentration — may not exceed 400 gallons (1500 L).
  • Division 2.1 (flammable gas) or 2.2 (non-flammable gas) in a cylinder: The gross weight of the gas and cylinder must not exceed 220 lbs. (100 kg).

Permanently installed tanks for division 2.2 non-liquefied material with no subsidiary hazard must meet ASME standards and the capacity must not exceed 70 gallons.

For division 4.3 material in PG II or PG III, the package must have a gross capacity less than or equal to one ounce.

If you need assistance identifying the hazard class, division, or packing group, contact your supervisor or the individual responsible for your company’s safety program.

Total weight. The total allowable weight of a MOT is 440 lbs. per vehicle. As a side note, it is important to remember that a vehicle towing a trailer is considered a single vehicle. So again, the 440-lb. rule applies to combination units. The amount is important because the driver must know the total weight of all hazardous materials transported on his/her vehicle.

Example: A welding company transports a cylinder of oxygen and a cylinder of acetylene to a job site.

Acetylene is a Hazard class 2.1 flammable gas and oxygen is a hazard 2.2 nonflammable gas. Each cylinder must be 220 lbs. or less and the total combined weight for all MOTs must be 440 lbs. or less.

Package requirements. MOT packages must meet the following requirements.

Liquids and gases must be in packages that are:

  • Leak-proof.
  • Securely closed.
  • Secured to prevent movement.
  • Protected against damage.

Solids must be in packages that are:

  • Sift-proof.
  • Securely closed.
  • Secured from movement.
  • Protected against damage.

Cylinders or other pressure vessels. Cylinders used in transport must conform to packaging, maintenance, and use requirements specified in the HMR regulations. Manifolding of cylinders is currently authorized, but this rule is under review. A best practice is to remove the regulators and install safety covers secured against movement.

Gasoline. Must be in a metal or plastic container and meet HMR requirements or the OSHA requirements found in 29 CFR 1910.106(d)(2) or 1926(a)(1).

Original packaging. Materials must be in the original packaging or one of equal strength and quality. An outer package is not required for cans and bottles secured in cages, carts, or boxes. Keep in mind that they must be secured against movement.

What are the Marking Requirements?

Nonbulk packages, those with a capacity of 119 gallons or less, must be marked with the common name or proper shipping name. Cylinders must be marked and labeled as per HMR mandates. The table can be found in HMR 49 CFR 172.101.

Any diluted mixture of a Class 9 (miscellaneous) carried in a bulk tank (greater than 119 gallons) must be marked on two opposing sides with the four-digit ID number. ID numbers are also found in the hazmat table, and must be displayed on an orange panel or a white square-on-point configuration of the same size as the placard.

What Drivers Must Know

All drivers must know that they are transporting hazardous materials. The MOT exceptions require the operator be aware of the presence of the materials as well as the requirements in HMR 173.6. Many companies choose to cover these requirements as part of orientation. Some organizations cover this issue on a daily check list.

The MOT exception relieves the company of shipping paper requirements and provides relief from other HMR requirements, as long as the hazardous materials transported meet the MOT criteria. If the limits are exceeded, it subjects the corporation to all of the HMR rules. Someone within your organization must be identified as the individual responsible to ensure compliance with hazardous materials regulations. The company should formalize its program concerning the MOTs. If the need arises, this effort will help to demonstrate the company’s compliance with the regulations. 


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