Shipping Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Materials

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have in place numerous regulations for shipping of dangerous goods by surface or air.  Nonconformance of these regulations can result in significant fines up to $250,000 and up to a year in prison for individuals. Organization can be fined up to $500,000 per incident.

The DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) enforces shipments of hazardous materials within the United States under the Code of Federal Regulation Title 49. The ICAO’s Technical Rules have been summarized by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and published as the Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR). 

A shipper is defined as someone that does any of the following:

  • Marking and labeling packages.
  • Filling packages.
  • Accepting packages for shipment.
  • Supervising the shipping activities.
  • Preparing shipping documentation.
  • Loading trucks.

Anyone packaging, handling, shipping or transporting dangerous goods must receive training in the general requirements of handling dangerous goods as well as function specific training for the specific task(s) performed.

EHRS provides online training for shipping biological patient specimens only. Laboratory personnel shipping Category A and/or B infectious substances must receive additional training. Training is required before performing any tasks associated with shipping biological materials.

The DOT provides free training on hazardous material shipments. This training covers shipments within United States. Personnel shipping internationally must complete the International Air Transport Association (IATA) training. Most carriers (FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.) provide shipping training for international shipments.

Upon completion of the required training the shipper must contact the carrier to establish a contract to ship dangerous goods or hazardous materials. The carrier will provide shipping software that allows these types of shipments.

Review the Laboratory Safety Manual [PDF] for a detailed discussion on the transporting and shipping biological materials. 


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