Shipping hazardous materials and products requires precision and extensive knowledge of regulations and safety measures.

Posted & filed under Dry Less-than-Truckload, Full Truckload, Shippers.

Shipping hazardous materials and products requires precision and extensive knowledge of regulations and safety measures in place for the protection of both the load and those moving it. According to the Department of Transportation, materials that can pose an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce are classified as hazmat. 


Hazmat classifications

Hazardous materials come in a variety of forms that require unique handling methods and the experience necessary to move them. To help prevent accidents DOT has designed specific labeling requirements and packaging as well as a classification system to identify hazardous materials. Here are the classes of hazardous materials:


Class 1 – Explosives


  • 1.1 Mass explosion hazard (Ex: Black powder and dynamite)
  • 1.2 Projection hazard (Ex: Certain types of fireworks, some detonating fuses, and some ammunition)
  • 1.3 Predominately a fire hazard (Ex: Sodium picramate, some liquid and solid propellants, and some rocket motors)
  • 1.4 No significant blast hazard (Ex: Common fireworks, toy caps, and empty primed grenades)
  • 1.5 Blasting agents (Ex: Type E blasting agents and some Type B blasting agents)
  • 1.6 Extremely insensitive detonating substances (Ex: military bombs or missiles)


Class 2 –  Gases


  • 2.1 Flammable gas (Ex: Hydrogen compressed, ethylene, butylene, and acetylene)
  • 2.2 Non-flammable compressed gas (Ex: Oxygen compressed and nitrogen compressed)
  • 2.3 Poisonous gas (Ex: Posgene, sulfur tetrafluoride, and insecticide gasses)


Class 3 – Flammable Liquid and Combustible Liquid

Ex: Rubbing alcohol, gasoline, paint, waxes, polishes, adhesives, and cements


Class 4 – Flammable Solid, Spontaneously Combustible, and Dangerous When Wet


  • 4.1 Flammable solid (Ex: nitrocellulose and magnesium)
  • 4.2 Spontaneously combustible material (Ex: aluminum alkyls and white phosphorus)
  • 4.3 Dangerous when wet material (Ex: sodium, calcium, potassium, and calcium carbide)


Class 5 Oxidizer and Organic Peroxide


  • 5.1 Oxidizer (Ex: hydrogen peroxide and calcium chlorate)
  • 5.2 Organic Peroxide (Ex: ammonium nitrate fertilizers, hardeners, or accelerators)


Class 6 – Poison (Toxic) and Poison Inhalation Hazard


  • 6.1 Poisonous Materials (Ex: nicotine and arsenic)
  • 6.2 Infectious Substance (Etiologic Agent) (Ex: COVID-19 test samples and regulated medical waste)


Class 7 – Radioactive 

Ex: nuclear fuels


Class 8 – Corrosive 

Ex: lead acid batteries and degreasers


Class 9 – Miscellaneous

Ex: airbag modules, lithium batteries, and substances that pose environmental hazards


Federal Regulations

The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA) amended in 49 U.S.C. 5101 et seq regulates the way that hazmat items can be moved through the supply chain. These current regulatory requirements can be found on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) websites. 

One regulation that has to do with hazmat transportation is who is required to undergo training associated with these materials. Anyone classified as a hazmat employee must be trained to handle these materials. This includes those that load, unload or handle hazardous materials. This also includes those responsible for transporting the hazardous materials, those who prepare them for transportation, and those who operate a vehicle used in transporting these materials. There are several other tasks an individual may do that require training so that every member of the hazmat supply chain is prepared to safely interact with these shipments.

In addition to training hazardous materials are checked to ensure they are packaged and labeled correctly by both the shipper and the carrier. Most violations occur due to inaccurate labeling so attention to detail at this stage is essential to remain compliant throughout the shipping process. In the event an incident occurs involving hazmat cargo emergency response information must also be available along with the shipping paper including immediate risk mitigation details specific to that shipment. For more information about marking and properly packing hazardous materials shippers and carriers can refer to the DOT’s Check the Box guide.


Fireworks and Major Holidays

Each year for the Fourth of July millions of pounds of fireworks light up the sky across the country putting a several weeks-long strain on the hazardous materials supply chain. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association in 2023, 273.6 million pounds of fireworks were purchased in the United States with 246.5 million pounds of that being consumer fireworks. The revenue of consumer fireworks that year amounted to $2.2 billion. The global fireworks market was valued at around $2,600 million in 2022 and is projected to reach $3,600 million by 2030. 

This growing market and increased demand for fireworks during major holidays such as the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve has led to fireworks becoming more popular in other celebrations such as weddings and graduation parties. With consumer fireworks being listed in hazard class 1.4 there are millions of pounds of fireworks moving through the supply chain at any given time that require special handling, attention, and training to transport. As fireworks are purchased more often the hazardous materials supply chain must become more efficient to keep pace with the demand while also providing service to other shipments with unique needs.


Work with a 3PL to Ensure Success

Staying ahead of the rush when it comes to securing hazmat capacity is essential around holidays when the volume of hazmat shipping surges. Working with a 3PL can help you access a specialized carrier network experienced with hazmat loads and working with sensitive shipments. When transporting these loads reliability and attention to detail are key. Choosing a shipping partner with experience and industry knowledge to provide quality shipping solutions is one of the most impactful things you can do for your business. A network that is there when you need it is an important first step to a safe and on-time delivery.


The England Logistics Full Truckload division offers services for companies of all sizes. Dedicated team members are available day and night to offer solutions and assistance with all logistical needs. Regardless of the transportation mode, our market and seasonal specialists provide flexible shipping solutions and are committed to helping every step of the way.