The Importance of Hazmat Compliance and Tank Testing

Two semi trailer bodies

Hazardous materials shipping is a heavily regulated process and our team will ensure your vehicle is properly equipped for the road.

HAZMAT Tanks Do an Important Job

The transport of hazardous material is a dangerous but important job and the regulations governing this task are very comprehensive. Not only do drivers need special training to transport most hazardous materials, the tanks that hold the material itself need to be periodically inspected by certified professionals.

What are Considered Hazardous Materials?

It is important to know what the DOT considers to be a hazardous material as many carriers and shippers make the mistake of not checking before shipment. A “hazardous material” is anything that can cause an unreasonable threat to the public or the environment. This includes:

  • Explosives
  • Flammable and non-flammable gases
  • Flammable liquid
  • Oxidizing substances
  • Poisonous materials
  • Infectious substance
  • Radioactive material
  • Corrosives
  • Hazardous waste

Identification of a substance being shipped as hazardous is the most critical part of shipping it and also the most difficult as certain materials have exemptions such as consumer or agricultural materials.

Hazardous Materials Shipper vs. Carrier Responsibilities

When transporting hazardous materials, the shipper has the ultimate responsibility to comply with the majority of federal regulations. These revolve around the identification of the material that is being shipped as hazardous. The difference between “carrier” and “shipper” is sometimes a gray area but the general difference between the two is the shipper is the entity with the interest of transporting materials from one place to another while a carrier is the entity that physically transports it.

Shipper Responsibilities

The most important responsibility of the shipper is to identify whether a material meets the definition of a hazardous material and properly label it. Beyond identification, the shipper is required to determine the:

  • Proper shipping name
  • Classification/division
  • Labelling
  • Proper Packaging/shipping method
  • Marking
  • Employee training
  • Shipping papers
  • Emergency response procedures and information
  • Blocking and bracing
  • Placarding
  • Security plan
  • Incident reporting

Carrier Responsibilities

The carrier relies on the shipper to properly identify and label the hazardous materials but since the carrier is responsible for the physical shipment, their responsibilities frequently overlap. They must verify that the materials are properly identified and labelled as well as:

  • Ensuring proper shipping papers are present and correct
  • Placarding and vehicle marking
  • Safe loading and unloading
  • Blocking and bracing
  • Compatibility 
  • Incident reporting
  • Security plan
  • Employee training

How To Read HAZMAT Trailer Placard Colors

The US Department of Transportation requires shippers and carriers to label vehicles that are carrying hazardous materials. This has to be accurate because in the event the vehicle is involved in an accident, first responders need to know how to approach the situation and if any specialized safety equipment is needed. One of the easiest ways to identify the information on these placards is through the colors and patterns used. Here is a brief guide to HAZMAT placard colors so you can identify what these trailers contain without needing to read them:

Orange – Represents packaged explosive materials including dynamite, fireworks, and ammunition. The type of explosive is noted on the placard but orange always identifies products that can be explosive under certain conditions. 

Red – Represents flammable products like gasoline, fuel oil, acetylene, rubbing alcohol, paint, and acetone. They also feature a flame image and a notation of what the flammable materials are. 

Green – Represents non flammable gases like argon, usually used in welding. Tye green denotes no fire risk, but the contents may be under pressure which is a hazard for first responders. 

Yellow – Represents oxidizers which are substances that when mixed with oxygen are likely to combust like ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate, and halogens. 

White – Represents poisonous and biohazardous substances like dyes, acids, aerosols and even medical waste. Toxic materials will be labelled poison and have a skull and crossbones symbol. 

Blue – Represents goods that are dangerous when wet and includes substances like sodium, calcium, and potassium. 

Red and White – These placards represent very dangerous substances that may ignite when exposed to air including white phosphorus and aluminum alkyls.

Red and White Stripes – Represents flammable solids that can easily combust such as matches and magnesium. 

Red and Yellow –  Represent organic peroxides which can ignite and explode such as benzoyl peroxide.

Yellow and White – Represents radioactive substances that are commonly found in medical equipment. These placards will contain the radioactive symbol. 

White and Black – Represents corrosive materials that can harm the skin including batteries, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and sodium hydroxide. 

White and Black Stripes – Represents hazardous substances not categorized by the above such as dry ice, and asbestos.

How We Help

The carrier has the responsibility to ensure that the mode of transportation is contaminant-free and that the trailer used has been inspected is safe for on the road use. We prioritize safety in everything we do but when it comes to hazardous materials we never take chances or cut corners.  

We specialize in annual and 5-year hazmat trailer inspections. While other facilities might take a week to start the job, the White Tank team can perform annual inspections by appointment in just a couple of hours.

Since 1988, we have been the go-to source for any CDL hazmat tanker tests. Our team performs any necessary inspections to ensure a vehicle is properly equipped for the road. All procedures are federally regulated and executed by a crew of certified professionals. We supply all preventive maintenance for trucks and related equipment. And if your tank does not meet any of the required HAZMAT testing standards, we make sure it’s repaired and retested before it becomes available for service.