Hazmat Shipping and Transportation FAQs


Hazmat shipping requires extra care and can result in danger and damage along with hefty fines if done incorrectly.

What is Hazmat Shipping?

Substances that could adversely affect humans, animals, or the environment, either by themselves or under the influence of certain factors, are classified as hazardous materials, also known as HAZMATs. Hazardous handlers, carriers, and distributors hold responsibility for complying with rules and regulations on HAZMAT shipping. PLS Logistics has extensive experience in moving hazardous freight, so we have gathered a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding HAZMATs to help you comply with regulations and assist you in transporting your hazardous materials.

Hazmat Shipping FAQs

What is a hazardous material?  

A: According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), hazardous materials are a substance or materials that the Secretary of Transportation has determined these materials pose an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce. As a result, these materials require special handling, additional packaging, or labeling. Hazardous materials can range from everyday household items to laboratory-grade chemicals and high explosives. Some common examples include items under pressure like hairspray or spray paint or flammable items like fuel, nail polish, perfume, or even lighters.

Check out the U.S. Department of Transportation for a list to help you identify hazardous materials.

What is the safest way to transport hazardous materials?  

A: The container and the conditions in which you ship various hazardous materials depend entirely on the type of material transported. It can be as simple as adding a block of dry ice to your shipment to keep it cold or as significant as ordering specialized climate-controlled containers and hazmat suits for the duration of the trip.

Check out The Transportation of Hazardous Materials: Insurance, Security, and Safety Costs to learn more about the safest ways to transport hazardous materials.

What permits, and documents does one need to ship hazardous material?

A: Before turning to any carriers for shipping hazmat, ensure they have proper certifications and permits. Title 49 of the code of regulations (CFR) governs all the keeping and moving of dangerous goods in the United States. In addition, title 49 CFR is governmental law that regulates the domestic transportation of hazardous materials. Therefore, anyone who handles this kind of transportation needs to know Title 49 of CFR to comply thoroughly.

For more information about handling and transporting dangerous goods, click here.

How do you classify hazardous materials?

A: Hazardous materials have nine classes. All classes are listed below:

  • Class 1: Explosives
  • Class 2: Gases
  • Class 3: Flammable Liquid and Combustible Liquid
  • Class 4: Flammable Solid, Spontaneously Combustible, and Dangerous When Wet
  • Class 5: Oxidizer and Organic Peroxide
  • Class 6: Poison (Toxic) and Poison Inhalation Hazard
  • Class 7: Radioactive
  • Class 8: Corrosive
  • Class 9: Miscellaneous

To view more information on the Department of Transportation (DOT) classes, click here.

Who should obtain training courses for HAZMAT material?  

A: According to the DOT, the HAZMAT training courses are for federal, state, and local enforcement agencies, emergency response, and industry (shippers, carriers, manufacturers, etc.). As a result, HAZMAT training is required for carriers and shippers who are involved in the transportation of hazardous materials, including, but not limited to, individuals responsible for:

  • Determining the hazard class of hazardous material.
  • Selecting hazardous materials packaging.
  • Filling hazardous materials packaging, including bulk packaging.
  • Securing a closure on a filled or partially filled hazardous materials package or container or a package or container containing a hazardous material residue.
  • Marking and labeling a package to indicate that it contains hazardous material.
  • Providing and maintaining emergency response information.

For a complete list of employee functions that require hazardous materials training, click here.

What sorts of regulations might I face in shipping hazardous materials?

A: As you might expect, the federal government heavily regulates the transportation and shipping of hazardous materials. All employees that handle and work with hazardous materials must complete a DOT safety course within the first 90 days (about 3 months) of employment. Failure to complete this course within the allotted time or shipping/handling hazardous materials before finishing the training course can result in fines of more than $50,000.

How can PLS Logistics help with my hazmat shipping needs?

As an industry-leading third-party logistics (3PL) company with over 30 years of experience, PLS Logistics Services is here to assist in transporting all your hazardous materials. We have access to various modes of transportation like less-than-truckload, truckloads, intermodal, air, rail freight, and ocean. Partnering with PLS Logistics will ensure your shipping materials are compliant with the U.S. Department of Transportation. In addition, we will work with you to assess your specialized transportation needs and monitor your freight shipments to ensure proper delivery on time. If a disruption occurs, we will notify you in real-time to alert your customers. We regularly manage specialized loads moving on various trailers to all locations, and no request is ever too large or small for PLS!

For more information on specialized shipping with PLS Logistics, including hazardous materials, heavy machinery, metal and mining, chemicals, and more, click here!

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