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Hazardous Goods (Hazmat)

Hazardous Goods (Hazmat)

Hazardous materials (hazmat), or dangerous goods, are defined by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as any material or substance capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce. Hazmat materials require specific procedures and documentation in the order fulfillment process.

People commonly think of hazardous materials or dangerous goods (DG) or as industrial cleaners and chemicals, explosives, acids, ammunition, chlorine, etc. However, a large number of consumer products are also classified as hazardous goods, such as batteries, aerosol products, nail polish, alcohol, cosmetics, medicines, and paint.

Costly and dangerous consequences can occur if hazardous goods are packaged or handled incorrectly. Any person or organization that fails to comply with government hazmat shipping regulations can incur significant fines:

Effective January 1, 2023, hazmat fines¹ are assessed as follows:

  • $96,624 per day per violation – The maximum civil penalty for hazmat shipping violations
  • $209,249 per day per violation – For violations resulting in serious illness, serious injury, substantial property damage, or death
  • $582 per employee per day – The minimum penalty for failure to provide hazmat training for employees  (Source: Hazmat Unid)

Steps to Avoid Hazardous Goods Shipping Risks and Fines

Any company with an order fulfillment operation should establish procedures to determine if any new or existing products are classified as hazardous goods. A compliance program is required to ensure that safety regulations are consistently followed for employee safety and safe transport.

Certified shippers must sign off on every shipment, indicating their pledge that:

  • The packages contain the materials described in the package documentation
  • The items are packaged according to safety requirements
  • Appropriate labels are affixed to the shipment
  • Ground shipments must be certified in DOT 49 CFR (highway) regulations
  • Air shipments require IATA certification
  • Ocean shipments require IMDG certification

Hazardous Goods Training and Certification

To prevent negative occurrences, it is recommended that companies maintain a hazmat training and certification program for warehouse and shipping staff. Several training courses may be needed, including general DOT Safety and Security Awareness classes or module and supplemental training classes as required.

By signing, shippers take personal responsibility for the shipment and may be personally liable for any fines assessed due to errors.

Automate Hazardous Goods Processes with Integrated Hazmat and Shipping Software

Another best practice is to automate hazmat shipping processes to eliminate manual tasks and minimize the risk of error. It is possible to support proper hazardous goods compliance by integrating your warehouse execution and control system (WES-WCS) into your ERP/WMS systems and creating compliance checks and balances by implementing business rules regarding specific product handling and documentation. The Numina Group, an independent systems integrator and leading expert in warehouse automation and order fulfillment can help. Please get in touch with us today.

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¹Hazmat Civil Penalties Raised by US DOT for 2023