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The need to transport hazardous chemicals securely and safely is greater than ever. Hazmat drivers need both specialized training related to their work and instruction in all facets of general transportation. If a carrier hires you to deliver hazardous materials, you will get further training. You will learn more about the prerequisites for the hazardous materials transportation method in this chapter of our ELDT course.



What Is a Hazardous Material?


The Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) define a hazardous material as a substance or material capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce. The term includes hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, marine pollutants, elevated temperature materials, materials designated as hazardous in the Hazardous Materials

Table, and materials that meet the defining criteria for hazard classes and divisions.


CDL Endorsements


To transport placarded quantities of hazardous materials, a driver's commercial driver's license (CDL) often has to have a hazmat endorsement. Any amount of a substance designated in 42 CFR Part 73 as a select agent or toxin also has to have an endorsement.


As part of the Homeland Security Regulations for the transport of hazardous chemicals, you must submit to fingerprinting and pass a criminal background check to acquire a hazmat endorsement.


Hazard Classes and Divisions


Hazard class or division numbers are used to categorize dangerous items.


The classification of risks given to a hazardous substance in the HMR is known as its hazard class. A substance may satisfy the requirements for more than one danger class, but it is only given one hazard class designation.


A division is a subdivision of a hazard class.


There are nine hazard classes, with some of the classes broken down into divisions.


Class 1 — Explosives


Class 2

  • Division 2.1 — Flammable gas

  • Division 2.2 — Flammable-free gas

  • Division 2.3 — Poison gas


Class 3 — Flammable and combustible liquid


Class 4

  • Division 4.1 — Flammable solid

  • Division 4.2 — Spontaneously combustible

  • Division 4.3 — Dangerous when wet


Class 5

  • Division 5.1 — Oxidizer

  • Division 5.2 — Organic peroxide


Class 6

  • Division 6.1 — Poisonous material

  • Division 6.2 — Infectious substance


Class 7 — Radioactive


Class 8 — Corrosive material


Class 9 — Miscellaneous hazardous material



Shipping Papers


Nobody wants to be in an accident, much less one that involves dangerous materials. However, mishaps do occur. Hazardous material accidents have the potential to endanger people, property, and the environment. Because of this, shipping documents play a crucial part in the shipment of hazardous materials.


A hazmat shipping paper provides key information about the hazardous material being transported. Emergency responders use that information at the scene of an accident to determine what steps must be taken to keep damages to the lowest level possible. It is your responsibility as the driver to ensure that the data is accurate and the shipping documents are accessible.

  • The UN or NA identification number


According to the HMR, each hazardous substance being carried must have a brief description on the shipping document. For domestic transportation, the following must be included in this sequence in the basic description:

  • The proper shipping Name

  • The hazard class or division number

  • The subsidiary hazard class or division number entered in parentheses

  • The packing group (PG), if any.


The general description must come before and/or after the total amount of hazmat. The relevant unit of measure, which may be shortened, must also be included. Additionally, the kind and quantity of shipments must be specified.


You, the driver, should never accept a hazmat shipment unless you are certain the shipping papers have been properly prepared.


Shipping Paper Accessibility


Shipping papers must be readily accessible to authorities in the event of an accident or inspection. The driver must:

  • Make it easy to tell the hazardous shipment document from other papers by tabling it or making it the first one to appear.

  • While operating the vehicle and confined by the lap belt, keep the shipping paper within easy reach, visible to anybody entering the driver's compartment, or in a holder affixed to the inside of the driver's door.

  • When you are not using the vehicle's controls, keep the mailing paper in a driver-side door pouch or on the driver's seat.

Loading and Unloading


Set parking brake — Any hazardous must be loaded and unloaded using the parking brake, and all necessary safety measures must be followed to prevent vehicle movement.


Tools — When loading or unloading hazardous, all tools must be handled carefully to prevent injury to packages of Class 1 material and another hazmat in any manner, including damaging package or container closures.


No smoking — Smoking on or near any vehicle while loading or unloading any Class 1, Class 3, Class 4 (flammable solid), Class 5 (oxidizer), or Division materials from or near any vehicle. Any vehicle transporting the above-listed products should be kept away from any fire sources, especially matches and smoking materials.


Securing packages — Secure containers against any movement, including shifting or movement between packages during routine transit. This rule applies to any packages containing any hazardous materials that are not permanently affixed to a vehicle. Packages with valves or other fittings need to be loaded carefully to reduce the risk of damage while in transit.


Placards — The HMR mandates placarding for the majority of vehicles transporting hazardous materials. The necessary placards must be provided by the shipper. It is your duty as the driver to properly mount them on your car and care for them while it is in motion.


On the Road


Fueling — The engine of a placarded vehicle must be shut-off and someone must be in control of the fueling process at the point

where the fuel tank is filled.


Smoking — Any placarded vehicle carrying any Class 1, Class 5 (oxidizer), or flammable materials classified as Divisions 2.1, 4.1, or 4.2, Class 3, or an empty tank vehicle that has been used to transport Class 3 or Division 2.1 materials, is prohibited from smoking or carrying lit smoking materials, and is also prohibited from being within 25 feet of such a placarded vehicle.


Routing — Drivers of hazardous materials must follow the marked routes for hazardous materials that are posted across many cities and residential areas. Placarded vehicles should steer clear of densely crowded places, tunnels, congested streets, and alleyways unless and only when:

  • There are no practicable alternatives;

  • It is necessary to reach your destination, or facilities for food, rest, fuel, or repairs;

  • Emergency conditions require a deviation.


Tire checks — The tires of placarded vehicles must be checked at the beginning of each trip and each time the vehicle is parked. If any defect is found, the tire should be repaired or replaced immediately.


Parking — Placarded automobiles shouldn't be left parked on any roadway's trafficked area or within five feet of it. Except for certain explosives, the truck may stop temporarily if parking is required for operational reasons and it is impracticable to halt elsewhere. When stopped along a road, standard warning devices must be placed as needed.




You have now read this chapter to get knowledge on CDL endorsements, danger classifications and divisions, shipping paperwork and accessibility, and loading and unloading procedures for hazardous commodities. These are a few of the fundamental prerequisites for transporting hazardous goods. You will get extra training if you carry hazardous items for a company, so keep that in mind.

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