The transportation of hazardous materials was once an arcane subject known to an esoteric coterie of specialists, but of late the subject has hit the radar screens of ordinary citizens with the advent of exploding smartphones and lithium ion batteries. Now, air travelers know they aren’t allowed to bring certain devices on board aircraft, and air cargo movers have their own set of regulations to follow when it comes to the errant power sources.
Transportation companies and third-party logistics providers can do a lot to help shippers of hazardous materials comply with an ever-changing maze of regulations, but shippers can’t expect their service providers to do all the heavy lifting. To the contrary, shippers must be intimately familiar with the regulations governing hazmats, become certified under them, and provide required training to their employees in the handling of the materials. Shippers are the ones responsible for the proper packaging and labeling of hazmats, and the regulations governing these items aren’t simple.
If shippers fail to comply, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Agency (PHMSA) of the United States Department of Transportation will come after them and fine them, sometimes to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars for each incident. The Federal Aviation Administration, not to mention agencies of foreign governments, also have jurisdiction in enforcing hazmat regulations. (See sidebar.)...
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