Could You be Subject to DOT Regulations and Not Know It? (Part 3) Hazardous Substances and Placarding; Select Agents and Toxins

This update addresses the confusion around hauling select agents and toxins and the two groupings of substances that you should be aware of.

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, weight and passenger count and a few lesser-known DOT regulatory requirement triggers were outlined. Another lesser-known regulation trigger relates to hauling hazardous materials or select agents and toxins. DOT regulations require drivers to hold a CDL Class C in some scenarios.

Large freight truck driving down highway during sunset

Part of the confusion around these scenarios is that DOT regulations mesh with regulations from groups such as the PHMSA, HHS, DHS, CDC, and others.

As it relates to these regulations, there are two groupings of substances that you should be aware of:

  1. The first is the list of hazardous substances in 49 C.F.R. 172.101 in the Hazardous Materials Table.

This list is determined by the Department of Transportation. Most of the substances listed do not require a vehicle to be placarded until the total weight of the substance reaches 1,100lbs, however some of the substances listed require a placard no matter the amount or weight of the substance and no matter what type of vehicle is used to transport them. They include:

  •   Explosives in division 1.1, 1.2 or 1.3
  •   Inhalation hazards in division 2.3 or 6.1
  •   Radioactive materials, division 7
  •   Organic peroxide division 5.2, Type B, temperature controlled

This chart may be helpful when trying to sort through weights and placarding requirements. Remember that once a placard is required the vehicle is now a CMV and the driver must have a Class C CDL just to transport these substances in a light duty vehicle.

  1. The second group of substances is termed select agents and toxins and this list is determined by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Transporting any amount of these select agents or toxins requires your driver to have a class C CDL. Placarding for these select agents or toxins is not mandated by the DOT based on 49 CFR 172.504 table 2, but the driver will still need a CDL class C to transport in a light duty vehicle.

It is important to note that there are several regulatory considerations not addressed in this article for hauling hazardous substances and/or select agents and toxins. Labeling, prohibited transportation methods, reporting, and declaration, as well as manifests, are just a few examples.

It may also be important to review both your pollution and commercial auto policies to ensure that if you have an incident during transportation of one of these substances, your policies would protect your organization. Many policies have exclusions that could affect response of the policy and endorsements are available to help ensure that does not occur. A Woodruff Sawyer account executive can help you review your coverages.

Knowing whether your fleet is regulated by the Department of Transportation or not has never been more important. Verdicts keep getting larger and more frequent. This article discusses that trend and some of the more common controls used to mitigate exposure.



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