Hazmat Handling


According to the US DOT, a hazardous material is defined as “…a substance or material, which has been determined by the Secretary of Transportation to be capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce, and which has been so designated”.


There are many products we come into contact with on a daily basis that are dangerous. Some pose little risk while others can have catastrophic affects on people, property and the environment. Increasing attention is being given to the problems associated with the handling of what has become known as hazardous materials (HAZMAT) or dangerous goods (DG). The government started regulating certain chemicals (explosives, oxidizers) in the 1800ís during the civil war. In 1966 congress established the Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT was made responsible for hazardous materials transportation. In 1974 congress passed The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. This act gave the secretary of transportation the authority to identify and regulate all modes of hazardous materials transportation. Over time the regulations have become more stringent and inclusive to the point that it has become impossible for the untrained person to handle or ship HAZMAT safely and within the law.


  • Provide a means for ensuring the safe transportation of hazardous materials.
  • Establish requirements for identifying, packaging, loading/unloading and transporting hazardous materials and communicating these hazards to others.
  • Apply to all hazardous materials transported in commerce. Any person who performs an activity in support of hazardous materials being transported in commerce must be compliant with D.O.T. requirements.
  • Compliance is the law and must be complied with whenever shipping or offering hazardous materials for shipment. D.O.T. HAZARDOUS MATERIALS REGULATIONS ARE NOT NEW. The hazardous material transportation act was passed in 1974.
  • There is an incentive program for compliance in: 49 C.F.R 107.301 – 339
    Criminal: willful disregard and endangerment of the public or environment.
    Penalties: $500,000 or more per day for corporations. Up to $250,000 per day for individuals. Up to 5 years imprisonment.Civil: Any violation other than criminal.
    Penalties: $75,000 or more per day, per violation (11 violations possible on the shipping paper alone) and a $275 minimum.

The Office of Research Assurances processes all outbound Haz/Mat or dangerous goods and more information can be found at: https://ora.wsu.edu/what-is-a-hazardous-material/