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Section 9: Hazardous Materials/Wastes


Section 9: Hazardous Materials/Wastes

This section is for drivers who need a HAZMAT endorsement

Note: To ensure public safety, DMV examiners will not conduct commercial driving tests in vehicles displaying vehicle placards per CVC §27903. This includes vehicles carrying hazardous materials and/or wastes and vehicles which have not been purged of their hazardous cargo. CVC §15278(a) (4) requires a HazMat endorsement for those who drive a vehicle requiring placards.

HazMat Endorsement is needed.

Note: Your CDL tests will be based on your knowledge of federal transportation requirements. Text preceded by "California" refers to state (non-federal) requirements which also apply when driving in California. The state requirements are strictly enforced.

Hazardous materials and wastes including radioactive materials pose a risk to health, safety, and property during transportation. The Hazardous Materials Table lists materials considered hazardous. The rules (Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR]) sometimes require diamond shaped, square-on-point, warning signs on vehicles transporting certain types or quantities of hazardous materials. These signs are called placards.

You must have a commercial driver license with a HazMat endorsement before driving vehicles carrying hazardous materials which require placards. To get the endorsement, you must pass a written test in English about the hazardous materials transportation rules. By studying this section you will learn to recognize hazardous cargo, to contain the material, and to communicate the danger.

This handbook provides all you need to know to pass the written test. However, this is only a beginning. You can learn more by reading the rules in state and federal regulations. You can also learn more by attending training courses offered by your employer or others. Every employee who transports hazardous materials must receive training to recognize and identify hazardous materials and become familiar with HazMat requirements. (49 CFR 172.702, 172.704, and 13 CCR 1161.7) Government and industry publishers sell copies of the regulations. Union or company offices often have copies of the rules for driver use. Find out where you can get your own copy to use on the job.

In addition to the general HazMat training requirements (49 CFR 172.700-172.706) and repeated training every three years, drivers are also required to be trained in function- and commodity-specific requirements (e.g., flammable cryogenic liquids or Highway Route Controlled Quantities [HRCQ] of radioactive materials.)

Permits. A permit or route restriction may be required to transport some classifications and quantities of hazardous materials. Contact the California Highway Patrol and the U. S. Department of Transportation for information. Permits and registrations may also be required for hazardous waste and medical waste transportation. Contact the Department of Toxic Substances Control and the Department of Health Services respectively, for information.

If you apply for an original or renewal HazMat endorsement, you must undergo a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) federal security threat assessment (background records check). You start the TSA background records check after you apply for your CDL at DMV, successfully complete all appropriate law tests, and submit a valid medical form. You must submit fingerprints, a fee, and any additional required information to one of TSA's designated agents. You must also provide the TSA agent with a copy of your CDL permit and one of the following identification documents:

  • A California DL/ID card
  • An out-of-state DL
  • Your CDL permit accompanied by a DMV photo receipt

For a list of TSA agent sites, go online at hazprints. or call 1-877-429-7746.

California Hazardous Material Transportation License

Every motor carrier who transports the following hazardous materials in California must have a Hazardous Materials Transportation License issued by the CHP (CVC §32000.5):

  • Hazardous materials shipments (unless specifically excepted) for which the display of placards is required per CVC §27903.
  • Hazardous materials shipments in excess of 500 lbs., transported for a fee, which would require placarding if shipped in greater amounts in the same manner.

A valid legible copy of the carrier's Hazardous Materials Transportation License must be carried in the vehicle and be presented to any peace officer or duly authorized employee of the CHP upon request. (13 CCR 1160.3(g)(2))

This is in addition to the federal HazMat registration that may be required under 49 CFR 107.601.

Intent of the Regulations

The 49 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) govern the safety aspects of transportation. They include requirements for classification of materials, packaging (including manufacture, continuing qualification, and maintenance), hazard communication (e.g., package marking, labeling, placarding, and shipping documentation), transportation, handling, HazMat employee training, and incident reporting. The intent of the hazardous materials rules and regulations is to ensure safe drivers and equipment; to communicate the risk; and to contain the product.

Packaging and Securement

Many hazardous materials can injure or kill on contact. In order to protect drivers and others, the rules tell shippers how to package safely. Loading, securement, and segregation rules tell drivers how to load, transport, and unload their cargo.

Communicate the Risk

Shippers must warn drivers and others about a material's hazardous qualities. They must put warning labels and markings on packages and describe materials on the shipping paper in a way that clearly warns of the risk. There are rules for drivers too. If there is a collision or a leak, the driver must warn others of danger. Placards and package markings are another way to communicate the risk.

Assuring Safe Drivers and Equipment

Drivers must pass a written test about transporting hazardous materials or wastes. To pass the test, drivers must know how to:

  • Recognize shipments of hazardous materials or wastes.
  • Safely load shipments.
  • Correctly placard.
  • Safely transport shipments.

You should, and are often required to, inspect your vehicle before and during each trip. Law enforcement officers may stop and inspect your vehicle. They may check shipping papers and your driver license for a HazMat endorsement.

Transporting Hazardous Materials

The shipper:

  • Sends the products from one place to another by truck, railroad, ship, or airplane.
  • Uses the hazardous materials regulations to decide the product's:
    • proper shipping name
    • hazard class and division
    • identification number (ID)
    • correct packaging
    • correct label(s) and markings
    • correct placard(s)
  • Packages the materials, labels and marks the package, prepares the shipping paper and emergency response information, and supplies the placards.
  • Certifies on a shipping paper that the shipment has been prepared according to the rules, unless a private carrier is used or the carrier supplies the cargo tanks.

The carrier:

  • Takes the shipment from the shipper to its destination.
  • Before transporting, checks that the shipper correctly named, labeled, and marked the shipment.
  • Refuses improper shipments.
  • Reports collisions and incidents involving hazardous materials or wastes to the proper government agency.

The driver:

  • Should check the route and the permits needed for the trip before starting the trip.
  • Makes sure the shipper has identified, marked, and labeled the product correctly.
  • Refuses leaking packages.
  • Refuses shipments not properly prepared.
  • Attaches placards when loading, if needed.
  • Ensures the appropriate product identification number(s) are displayed on transport vehicles, when required.
  • Ensures hazardous material shipment is properly secured with a lock.
  • Safely transports the shipment without delay.
  • Follows all special rules about transporting hazardous materials or wastes.
  • Keeps hazardous materials shipping papers, including the emergency response information, in order and in the proper place.

Communication Rules

Some words and phrases have special meanings when talking about hazardous materials. The meanings may differ from common use. Learn the words printed in bold below. The meanings of other important words are in the glossary.


A material's hazard class reflects the risks associated with it. Appendix A tells the exact meaning of each hazard class. There are 9 different hazard classes. Some classes have subdivisions to better define the hazard.


Division 1.1-Explosives with a mass explosion hazard
Division 1.2-Explosives with a projection hazard
Division 1.3 -Explosives with predominantly a fire hazard
Division 1.4-Explosives with minor explosion hazard
Division 1.5-Very insensitive explosives
Division 1.6-Extremely insensitive explosive articles

Class 2-Gases

Division 2.1-Flammable gases
Division 2.2-Nonflammable gases
Division 2.3-Poison gases
Division 2.4-Corrosive gases (Canada only)

Class 3-Flammable Liquids

Class 4-Flammable Solids, Spontaneously Combustible Materials, and Materials that are Dangerous When Wet

Division 4.1-Flammable solids
Division 4.2-Spontaneously combustible materials
Division 4.3-Materials that are dangerous when wet

Class 5-Oxidizing Materials

Division 5.1-Oxidizers
Division 5.2-Organic peroxides

Class 6-Poisonous and Etiologic (infectious) materials

Division 6.1-Poisonous materials
Division 6.2-Infectious substance (etiologic)

Class 7-Radioactive Materials

Class 8-Corrosive Materials

Class 9-Miscellaneous Hazardous Materials

In addition to the above classifications, materials that meet the 49 CFR definition of a "combustible liquid" and do not meet the definition of any other hazard class, hazardous substance, or marine pollutant are only regulated domestically when shipped in a bulk package. Also, specified hazardous materials may be transported as Other Regulated Material-D (ORM-D) (e.g., "a consumer commodity").

Shipping Papers

A proper shipping paper is a document or paper containing the hazardous materials information required by regulations. Shipping orders, bills of lading, and manifests are all shipping papers. Shippers show a material's proper shipping name, hazard class or division, ID number, and packing group on the shipping paper. After a collision or hazardous materials incident, you may be unable to speak when help arrives. Fire fighters and police must know the hazards involved in order to prevent more damage or injury. Your life, and the lives of others, may depend on their quickly finding the shipping papers and emergency response information for hazardous cargo. For that reason the rules require:

  • Shippers to describe shipments correctly on shipping papers and include an emergency response telephone number on shipping papers.
  • Carriers and drivers to put tabs on shipping papers related to hazardous materials or wastes, or keep them on top of other shipping papers. Required emergency response information must be kept in the same manner as shipping papers.
  • Drivers to keep shipping papers for hazardous cargo in a pouch on the driver's door, or otherwise, in clear view within reach while the seat belt is fastened for driving, and on the driver's seat or pouch on the driver's door when away from the vehicle.

Labels, Placards, and Markings

Labels at least four inches by four inches in size are applied to the outside of hazardous materials shipping packages near the shipping name. (Note: Labels on packages prepared under United Nations Recommendations on the Transportation of Dangerous Goods may be smaller than four inches.) These labels identify the primary and secondary hazard specific to the material being transported and give warning information about handling precautions in case of an emergency. If the diamond label will not fit on the package, shippers will put the label on a tag. For example, compressed gas cylinders that will not hold a label will have tags or decals. Labels look like the example in Figure 9-1.

Refer to these charts for more examples of labels.

a diagram of a labeled package

"Marking" a non-bulk package refers to applying the required information to the outside of shipping containers (e.g., proper shipping name, ID number, consignee/consignor, and required instructions). For bulk packages and transport vehicles, when required, the ID numbers must be displayed on orange panels, white squares-on-point, or across the middle of the appropriate placard, as appropriate.

Placards are signs used to warn others of hazardous cargo and are put on the outside of a vehicle to show the hazard class of the cargo. A placarded vehicle must have at least 4 placards representing the applicable hazard. They are attached to each side and each end of the vehicle, as shown in Figure 9-2. Placards must be readable from all four directions. There are 22 DOT specification placards. They are 10 3/4 inches square, turned upright on a point, in a diamond shape. Cargo tanks and other bulkpackaging show the ID number of their contents on placards, orange rectangular panels, or plain white square-on-point configurations having the same dimensions as placards. Whenever your vehicle is placarded, do not drive near open flame unless you can safely pass the fire without stopping.

For hazardous materials for which placards are not specified, ID numbers may be displayed on orange panels or plain white square-on-point configurations.

Safety signs such as "Drive Safely" and any other sign displayed as a square-on-point are not allowed.

a diagram of a tractor and trailer showing placard and panel locations

Regulated Products Lists

There are three main lists used by shippers, carriers, and drivers to identify hazardous materials. These can be found in Title 49 CFR, Section 172.101. Before transporting an unfamiliar product, look for its name on all lists. Some products are on all lists; others may be on only one. These are the lists to check:

  • Hazardous Materials Table.
  • List of Hazardous Substances and Reportable Quantities.
  • List of Marine Pollutants.

Identification numbers are four digit codes used by first responders to identify hazardous materials. An identification number may be used to identify more than one chemical on shipping papers. The identification number will be preceded by the letters "NA" or "UN". The US DOT Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) identifies the chemicals all identification numbers are assigned to.

The hazardous materials table (See Figure 9-3). Column 1 of the Hazardous Materials Table tells which mode of transportation the entry affects. The next five columns show each material's shipping name, hazard class or division, ID number, packaging group, and required labels. Six different symbols may appear in Column 1 of the table.

+ Shows the shipping name and hazard class to use, even if the product does not match the hazard class definition.
A Means the entry is subject to the regulations only when offered or intended for transport by air, unless it is also a hazardous substance or hazardous waste.
D Means the entry applies to domestic transportation but may be inappropriate for international shipment.
G Means the entry contains a proper shipping name for which one or more hazardous materials technical names must be entered in parenthesis, in addition to the proper shipping name.
I Means the entry applies to international transportation. An alternate proper shipping name may be selected when only domestic transportation is involved.
W Means the entry is subject to the regulations only when offered or intended for transport by water, unless it is a hazardous substance or waste or a marine pollutant.

Figure 9-3. Part of the Hazardous Materials Table

§172.101 hazardous materials Table





Hazardous materials descriptions and proper shipping names



Hazard class or division



Identification Numbers



Packing Group



Label(s) Required

(if not excepted)



Special Provisions




Packaging authorizations (§173.***)

Non-bulk packaging
Bulk packaging
- Poisonous, solids, self heating, n.o.s.… 6.1 UN3124 I POISON, SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTIBLE A5_ None 211 241

Column 2 shows proper shipping names and descriptions of regulated materials. Entries are in alphabetical order. Use the name of the material on the shipping paper-it must be the proper shipping name. The Hazardous Materials Table shows proper shipping names in regular type. The entries that are in italics are not proper shipping names. A shipper may only use them in addition to the proper shipping names.

Column 3 shows each material's hazard class or division, or the word "Forbidden." Never transport a material that is forbidden. A material's hazard class or division is the key to using placards. You can decide which placards to use if you know these five things:

  • Material's hazard class or division.
  • Special provisions.
  • Amount being shipped.
  • Total amount of weight of all hazard classes loaded on your vehicle.
  • Type of packaging (i.e., drum versus cargo tank)

Column 4 shows each material's ID number. ID numbers are preceded by the letters "UN" or "NA." The letters "NA" are associated with proper shipping names that are only used within the United States and to and from Canada. The identification number must appear on the shipping paper as part of the shipping description and also appear on the package. It also must appear on cargo tanks and other bulk packaging. The number is used by police and fire crews to quickly identify the material after a collision.

Column 5 shows each material's packing group. Packing groups indicate the degree of danger presented by the material. The shipper is responsible for determining the appropriate packing group.

Note: Classes 2, 7, and ORM-D materials do not have packing groups assigned.

Column 6 shows the label(s) shippers must put on packages of hazardous materials. Where the word "none" is shown, no label is needed. The rules require more than one label for some products.

Column 7 shows special provisions which may be required by 49 CFR 172.102 for the item being shipped. These special provisions may require specific additional and/or alternate requirements (e.g., packaging, handling, marking, etc.).

Column 8 is a three-part column showing the section numbers covering the packaging requirements for each hazardous material.

Note: Columns 9 and 10 do not apply to highway transportation.

Appendix A, §172.101-The List of Hazardous Substances and Reportable Quantities (RQ). The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitor spills of hazardous substances, which are named in the List of Hazardous Substances and Reportable Quantities. Any spill of an RQ hazardous substance must be reported by telephone. Refer to pages 127 and 128 for additional information.

This list shows each product's RQ. Carriers must report spills from packages containing a quantity equal to or greater than the RQ for that product. The shipper identifies these materials as hazardous substances by entering the letters "RQ" on the shipping paper either before or after the basic shipping description.

Appendix B-Marine pollutants are contained in Appendix B of The Hazardous Materials Table. These materials are regulated in interstate and intrastate commerce in bulk quantities only and may require special vehicle markings.

an example of a shipping paper

Shipping Paper Item Despcriptions

The shipping paper shown in Figure 9-4 describes a hazardous materials shipment. It must include:

  • Page numbers if the shipping paper has more than one page. The first page must tell the total number of pages. For example: "Page 1 of 4."
  • A proper shipping description and technical name, when required, of the hazardous product. This information must be printed or typewritten.
  • The packing group assignment.
  • Quantity of hazardous materials being shipped.
  • A 24-hour emergency response telephone number must appear on the shipping document for every hazardous material transported.
  • A "shipper's certification," signed by the shipper, saying that he or she prepared the shipment according to the regulations.

Emergency response information accompanying the shipping papers must contain:

  • Immediate hazards to health.
  • Risk of fire or explosion.
  • Immediate methods for handling fires.
  • Immediate precautions to be taken in the event of an incident or collision.
  • Initial methods of handling spills or leakage.
  • Preliminary first aid information.

Shipping Paper Item Descriptions

If the shipping paper describes both hazardous and nonhazardous products, the hazardous materials must be either: (1) described first, (2) highlighted in a contrasting color, or (3) identified by an "X" placed before the shipping name in a column captioned "HM." The letters RQ may be used instead of X if the shipment is a reportable quantity.

The basic description of a hazardous product includes the proper shipping name, hazard class or division, ID number, and the packing group, if any, in that order. Any additional information such as customer item number, product code(s), trade names, etc., must be placed after the basic shipping description. Shipping name, hazard class, and ID number must not be abbreviated unless specifically authorized in the hazardous materials regulations.

The description must also show:

  • The total quantity and unit of measure.
  • The letters RQ if a reportable quantity.
  • If the letters RQ appear, the name of the hazardous substance.
  • For "n.o.s." and generic descriptions, the technical name of the hazardous material when indicated by a "G" in column 1 of the Hazardous Materials Table.

Total quantity can appear before or after the basic description. Packaging type and the unit of measurement may be abbreviated. For example:

10 ctns. paint, 3, UN 1263, PG II, 500 lbs.

The shipper of hazardous waste must put the word WASTE before the name of the material on the hazardous waste manifest. For example:

Waste Acetone, 3, UN 1090, PG II

A nonhazardous material must not be described by using a hazard class or an ID number.

Technical names are required for n.o.s. and other generic descriptions. If a material is described on a shipping paper by proper shipping name, the technical name of the hazardous material must be entered in parentheses. For example:

Corrosive liquid, n.o.s.
(Caprylyl chloride), 8, UN1760, PG I
Corrosive liquid, n.o.s., 8, UN1760, PG I,
(Caprylyl chloride)

The same requirement applies to shipping descriptions for poisonous (toxic) materials if the proper shipping name does not specifically identify the poisonous material by technical name.

f a hazardous material is a mixture or a solution of two or more hazardous materials, the technical names of at least two of the materials (those contributing the most hazard to the mixture) must be entered on the shipping paper. For example:

Flammable liquid, corrosive, n.o.s., 3
UN2924, PG I, (contains Methanol, Potassium hydroxide)

Shipper's Certification

When the shipper packages a hazardous material, he or she certifies that the package has been prepared according to the regulations. The signed shipper's certification appears on the original shipping paper. An exception is if a shipper is a private carrier transporting the company's own product. Also, a shipper's certification is not required on shipping papers used by the carrier, or when the material is offered by the primary carrier to a subsequent carrier. The glossary at the back of this handbook shows acceptable shipper certifications. Unless a package is clearly unsafe (leaking, etc.) accept the shipper's certification concerning proper packaging. Some carriers have additional rules about transporting hazardous products. Follow your employer's rules when accepting shipments.

Package Markings and Labels

Shippers print other required information directly on the package, an attached label, or a tag. The most important package marking is the proper shipping name of the hazardous material, which must be the same as the one on the shipping paper. When required, the shipper also will mark the package with the:

  • Name and address of the shipper or consignee.
  • Content's proper shipping name and ID number.
  • Required hazard labels.

If the rules require it, the shipper also will put RQ or INHALATION HAZARD on the package. You will see markings or orientation arrows on cartons with liquid containers inside. The labels used will always reflect the hazard class of the product. If a package needs more than one label (e.g., to show a subsidiary hazard), the labels will be close together, near the proper shipping name.

Bulk packages containing material classed as MARINE POLLUTANTS must be marked on two opposing sides or two ends with the MARINE POLLUTANT mark, if not already labeled or placarded according to 49 CFR 172, Subparts E or F respectively.

Recognizing Hazardous Materials

Learn to recognize shipments of hazardous materials. To find out if the shipment includes hazardous materials, look at the shipping paper. Does it have:

  • An entry with a proper shipping name, hazard class, and ID number?
  • A highlighted entry, or one with an X or RQ in the hazardous materials column?

Other clues suggesting hazardous materials:

  • What business is the shipper in? Paint dealer? Chemical supply? Scientific supply house? Pest control or agricultural supplier? Explosives, munitions, or fireworks dealer?
  • Are there tanks with diamond labels or placards on the premises?
  • What type of package is being shipped? Cylinders and drums are often used for hazardous materials shipments.
  • Is a hazard class label, proper shipping name, or ID number on the package?
  • Are there any handling precautions?

The laws and regulations regarding hazardous waste are found in the Health and Safety Code, Division 20, Chapter 6.5, and Title 22, California Code of Regulations, Division 4.5.

Hazardous Waste Manifest

When transporting hazardous wastes, you must sign by hand and carry a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest. The name and EPA registration number of the shippers, carriers, and destination must appear on the manifest. Shippers must prepare, date, and sign by hand the manifest. Treat the manifest as a shipping paper when transporting the waste. Only give the waste shipment to another registered carrier or disposal/treatment facility. Each carrier transporting the shipment must sign by hand the manifest. After you deliver the shipment, keep your copy of the manifest. Each copy must have all needed signatures and dates, including those of the person to whom you delivered the waste.

Hazardous Waste Regulations

A person who transports hazardous wastes in the State of California must first obtain a Hazardous Waste Transporter Registration from the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). The registration certificate must be carried in the vehicle transporting the hazardous waste and shown upon demand to any DTSC representative, peace officer, local health officer, or public officer designated by DTSC.

There is an exemption for the transportation of up to 5 gallons or 50 lbs. of hazardous waste or 2.2 lbs. of extremely hazardous waste when transported by the producer of the waste to an authorized facility following specified guidelines.

The transporter of hazardous wastes is responsible for making sure that a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest is completed properly. The transporter must sign and date the manifest before removing the load of hazardous waste from the generator's facility. The manifest must be in his or her possession while transporting the hazardous waste and must be treated as a shipping paper. Hazardous wastes must only be delivered to another registered transporter or an authorized facility. The facility operator must sign and date the manifest when accepting the load of hazardous waste. If the hazardous waste cannot be delivered to the facility designated on the manifest, the transporter must contact the generator for instructions. The transporter must keep the copy of the manifest for a minimum of three years.


Attach the proper placards as you load the vehicle and before you drive it. You may move an improperly placarded vehicle only in an emergency to protect life or property.

Placards must be put on each side and each end of the vehicle (refer to Figure 9-2 on page 97). Each placard must be:

  • Easily seen from the direction it faces.
  • Placed so that the words or numbers are level and read from left to right.
  • At least 3 inches away from any other markings.
  • Kept clear of attachments or devices such as ladders, doors, and tarpaulins.
  • Kept clean and undamaged so that the color, format, and message are easily seen.

Use the hazard class, special provisions, the amount shipped, type of packaging, and the total weight of all hazardous materials on board to decide which placards you need.

First, check that the shipper is using the correct hazard class for the shipping paper and package label. If you are not familiar with the material, contact the shipper or your office.

There are two placard tables. Table 1 materials always require the use (display) of placards. Any amount of Table 2 materials in non-bulk packaging is required to be placarded if the material is subject to 49 CFR 172.505 (i.e., Poison-Inhalation Hazard or Dangerous When Wet) or if the amount transported in each vehicle is 1,001 lbs. or more, including the packaging. You may use DANGEROUS placards for each Table 2 hazard class when:

  • You have two or more Table 2 hazard classes, requiring different placards, that total 1001 lbs. or more.
  • You have not loaded 2,205 lbs. (1000 kg) or more of any Table 2 hazard class material at any one place. (You must use the specific placard for this material.)
  • If the words INHALATION HAZARD are on the shipping paper or package, you must display POISON GAS placards for Division 2.3 materials and POISON INHALATION HAZARD placards or POISON placards in addition to any other placards needed by the product's hazard class.

You do not need EXPLOSIVES 1.5, OXIDIZER, and DANGEROUS placards if a vehicle contains Division 1.1 or 1.2 explosives and is placarded with EXPLOSIVES 1.1 or 1.2. A NONFLAMMABLE GAS placard is not needed on a vehicle displaying a FLAMMABLE GAS or an OXYGEN placard.

Explosives 1.1 1.1
Explosives 1.2 1.2
Explosives 1.3 1.3
Poison Gas 2.3
Dangerous When Wet 4.3
Poison 6.1 (PG I, inhalation hazard only)
Radioactive * (Radioactive Yellow III label only) 7

* Radioactive placard also required for exclusive use shipments of low specific activity material (49 CFR §173.425).

Explosives 1.4 1.4
Explosives 1.5 1.5
Explosives 1.6 1.6
Flammable gas 2.1
Nonflammable gas 2.2
Flammable 3
Combustible* Combustible liquid
Flammable solid 4.1
Spontaneously combustible 4.2
Oxidizer 5.1
Organic perixide 5.2
Poison 6.1 (PGI or II, other than PG I inhalation hazard
Keep away from food 6.1 (PG III)
6.2 none
Corrosive 8
Class 9** 9 (not mandatory)
ORM-D none

* FLAMMABLE placard may be used in place of a COMBUSTIBLE placard on a cargo tank or portable tank.

** Class 9 Placard is not required for domestic transportation.

Loading and Unloading

Do all you can to protect hazardous materials containers. Don't use any tools which might damage containers or other packaging during loading. Don't use hooks.

  • Before loading or unloading, set the parking brake and make sure the vehicle will not move.
  • Many products are more hazardous in the heat. Load all hazardous materials away from heat sources.
  • Watch for signs of leaking or damaged containers: LEAKS SPELL TROUBLE! Do not transport leaking packages. You, your truck, and others could be in danger. If you see a leaking or damaged hazardous materials container, you should move it away from the other containers.

Containers of Class 1 (explosives), Class 3 (flammable liquids), Class 4 (flammable solids), Class 5 (oxidizers), Class 8 (corrosives), Class 2 (gases), and Division 6.1 (poisons) must be braced to prevent movement of the packages during transportation.

No smoking. When loading hazardous materials, keep away from fires. Do not smoke or allow others to smoke near your vehicle. Never smoke within 25 feet of:

  • Explosives.
  • Oxidizers.
  • Flammables.

Secure against movement. Make sure containers do not move around in transit. Brace them so they will not fall or bounce around. Use care when loading containers that have valves or other fittings.

Do not open any package between the points of origin and destination. You must never transfer hazardous products from one package to another. You may empty a cargo tank or intermodal (IM) specification portable tank, but do not empty any other package while it is on the vehicle, except as necessary to fuel machinery or other vehicles.

Cargo heater rules. There are special cargo heater rules for loading these hazard classes:

  • Explosives.
  • Flammable liquid.
  • Flammable gas.

The rules usually forbid use of cargo heaters, including automatic cargo heater/air conditioner units. Unless you have read all the related rules, do not load the above products in a cargo space that has a heater. Use closed cargo space. You must load the following hazard classes into a closed cargo space. You cannot have overhang or a tailgate load for these hazard classes:

  • Explosives.
  • Flammable solids.
  • Oxidizing materials.


Explosives. Before loading or unloading any explosive, turn your engine off. Then check the cargo space. You must:

  • Disable cargo heaters. Disconnect power sources and drain heater fuel tanks.
  • There must be no sharp points that might damage cargo. Look for bolts, screws, nails, broken side panels, and broken floor boards.
  • Use a floor lining when transporting Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives. The floors must be tight and the liner must not contain steel or iron.

Explosives need special handling to avoid damage. Never use hooks or other metal tools. Never drop, throw, or roll the shipment. Protect explosive packages from other cargo that might cause damage.

Do not transfer a Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosive from one vehicle to another on a public roadway except in an emergency. If safety requires an emergency transfer, set out red warning reflectors, flags, or electric lanterns. You must warn other highway users.

Never transport damaged packages of explosives. Do not take a package that shows any dampness or an oily stain.

Do not transport Division 1.1 or 1.2 explosives in a triples combination or in vehicle combinations if:

  • There is a marked or placarded cargo tank in the combination.
  • The other vehicle in the combination contains the following:
    • initiating explosive
    • radioactive materials labeled YELLOW III
    • Division 2.3 or 6.1 poisons
    • hazardous materials in a portable tank, Spec 106A or 110A tank

Corrosive materials. If loading by hand, load breakable containers of corrosive liquid one by one. Keep them right side up. Do not drop or roll the containers. Load them onto an even floor surface. Stack carboys only if the lower tiers can safely bear the weight of the upper tiers.

Do not load nitric acid above any other product. Cyanides or cyanide mixtures may not be loaded or stored with acids.

Load storage batteries so their liquid will not spill. Keep them right side up. Make sure other cargo will not fall against or short circuit them. Never load corrosive liquids on the same transport vehicle with:

  • Division 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, or 1.5 explosives. (Refer to Division 14 of the California Vehicle Code for additional requirements.)
  • Division 2.3, Zone A or 6.1, PG-I, Zone A, poisons.
  • Division 4.2 materials.

Never load corrosive liquids near or above:

  • Division 1.4 explosives
  • Division 2.3, Zone B, gases
  • Division 4.1 or 4.3 materials
  • Division 5.1 or 5.2 materials

Compressed gases, including cryogenic liquids. If your vehicle does not have racks to hold cylinders, the cargo space floor must be flat. The cylinders must be loaded securely to prevent overturning.

They can be:

  • Held upright or braced laying down flat.
  • In racks attached to the vehicle.
  • In boxes that will keep them from turning over.

Poisons. Never transport Division 2.3 (Poisonous gas) or irritating materials in containers with interconnections. Never load a package labeled POISON or POISONOUS GAS in the driver's cab or sleeper.

Never load a package labeled POISON, POISON - INHALATION HAZARD, or POISONOUS GAS in the same vehicle with foodstuffs, feed, or any edible material intended for consumption by humans or animals, except as provided under 49 CFR 177.841(e). Packages with hazard labels or package markings displaying the text "PG III" may be loaded on the same vehicle with foodstuffs, feed, or other edible material if separated as specified in CFR 177.848(e)(3).

Radioactive materials. Some packages of radioactive materials bear a number called the "transport index." The shipper labels these packages Radioactive II or Radioactive III and prints the package's transport index on the label. Radiation surrounds each package, passing through all nearby packages. The transport index tells the degree of control needed during transportation. The total transport index of all packages in a single vehicle must not exceed 50.

If the cargo you are transporting requires placarding, you must have a HazMat endorsement.

Mixed loads. The rules require some products to be loaded separately. They cannot be put together in the same cargo space. Figures 9-5 and 9-6 list some examples of the incompatibilities. The regulations (The Segregation and Separation Chart) name other materials to keep apart.

Inhalation hazards. An INHALATION HAZARD is defined as a POISONOUS GAS or LIQUID of which a very small amount of gas or vapor of a liquid mixed with air is dangerous to life. Some inhalation hazards are classified as Division 2.3 (gas, poison by inhalation) while many others are classified under various other Divisions. These other materials are identified as POISON-INHALATION HAZARDS or INHALATION HAZARDS per the special provisions codes, column 7, listed in the Hazardous Materials Table.


Figure 9-5

Segregation Table for Hazardous Materials

Class or Division Notes



1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 2.1 2.2



Zone A



other than

Zone A

3 4.1 4.2 4.3 5.1 5.2




Zone A



liquids only

Explosives 1.1 and 1.2 A * * * * * X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Explosives 1.3   * * * * * X   X X X   X X X X X   X
Explosives 1.4   * * * * * O   O O O   O       O   O
Very insensitive explosives A * * * * * X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Extremely insensitive explosives, 1.6   * * * * *                          
Flammable gases 2.1   X X O X       X O             O O  
Nontoxic, nonflammable gases, 2.2   X     X                            
Poisonous gas Zone A, 2.3   X X O X   X       X X X X X X     X
Poisonous gas Zone B, 2.3   X X O X   O       O O O O O O     O
Flammable liquids, 3   X X O X       X O         O   X    
Flammable solids, 4.1   X     X       X O             X   O
Spontaneous combust. materials, 4.2   X X O X     X O               X   X
Dangerous when wet materials, 4.3   X X   X     X O               X   O
Oxidizers, 5.1 A X X   X     X O O               X O
Organic peroxides, 5.2   X X   X     X O               X   O
Poisonous liquids PG I Zone A, 6.1   X X O X   O       X X X X X X     X
Radioactive materials, 7   X     X   O                        
Corrosive liquids, 8   X X O X       X O   O X O O O X    

A blank space indicates that no restrictions apply.
X-materials may not be loaded, transported, or stored together in same transport vehicle.
O-materials may not be loaded, transported, or stored together in same transport vehicle unless separated in a manner that would prevent the materials from commingling in case of a leak. Note: Class 8 materials may not be loaded above Class 4 or Class 5 materials unless it is known that the mixture of contents will not cause a fire or dangerous evolution of heat or gas.
*-segregation among different Class 1 materials is governed by the Compatibility Table for Class 1 (Explosive) Materials (Fig. 9-5).
A-notwithstanding the requirements of the letter "X", ammonium nitrate fertilizer may be loaded or stored with Division 1.1 or 1.5 materials.

Figure 9-6

Compatibility Table for Class 1 (explosive) Materials

Class or Division

A   X X X X X X X X X X X X
B X   X X (4) X X X X X X X X 4/5
C X X   2 2 X 6 X X X X 3 4/5
D X X (4) 2   2 X 6 X X X X 3 4/5
E X X 2 2   X 6 X X X X 3 4/5
F X X X X X   X X X X X X 4/5
G X X 6 6 6 X   X X X X X 4/5
H X X X X X X X   X X X X 4/5
J X X X X X X X X   X X X 4/5
K X X X X X X X X X   X X 4/5
L X X X X X X X X X X 1 X X
N X X 3 3 3 X X X X X X   4/5
S X 4/5 4/5 4/5 4/5 4/5 4/5 4/5 4/5 4/5 X 4/5  

A blank space indicates that no restrictions apply.
X-explosives of different groups may not be carried on the same transport vehicle.
1-explosive from group L shall only be carried on the same transport vehicle with an identical explosive.
2-any combination of explosives from groups C, D, or E is assigned to group E.
3-any combination of explosives from groups C, D, or E with those in group N is assigned to group D.
4-refer to 49 CFR §177.835(g) when transporting detonators.
5-Div. 1.4 fireworks may not be loaded on same transport vehicle with Div. 1.1 or 1.2 (Class A) explosive material.

Bulk Tanks

A bulk tank is intended primarily for carrying liquids, gases, or solids. Refer to the Glossary for more information. Cargo tanks remain on the vehicle when you load and unload them. Portable tanks are bulk containers which are not permanently attached to a vehicle. They are loaded or unloaded with the product while off the vehicle. Portable tanks are then put on a vehicle for transportation. Exception: IM specification portable tanks are authorized to be unloaded while attached to the transport vehicle.

There are many types of cargo tanks in use. The most common are MC 306 for liquids and MC 331 for gases.


You must display the ID number of the contents of portable tanks, cargo tanks, and other bulk packagings (such as dump trucks). Product ID numbers are in column 4 of the Hazardous Materials Table. Those rules require black numbers on orange panels, placards, or white diamond-shaped backgrounds if no placards are required. Specification cargo tanks must show retest and inspection date markings.

Portable tanks must also show the lessee or owner's name. They must also display the shipping name of the contents on two opposing sides. The letters of the shipping name must be at least two inches tall on portable tanks with capacities of 1,000 gallons or more and one inch tall on portable tanks with capacities of less than 1,000 gallons. The ID number must appear on each side and each end of a portable tank or other bulk packaging that holds 1,000 gallons or more and on two opposing sides, if the portable tank holds less than 1,000 gallons.

The ID numbers must still be visible when the portable tank is on the motor vehicle. If they are not visible, you must display the ID number on both sides and ends of the motor vehicle.


The loading and unloading of a cargo tank must be attended. The person overseeing the loading or unloading must be alert and:

  • Have a clear view of the cargo tank.
  • Be within 25 feet of the tank.
  • Be aware of the hazards.
  • Know the procedures to follow in an emergency.
  • Be authorized to move the cargo tank and able to do so.

Close all manholes and valves before moving a tank carrying hazardous materials. It does not matter how small the amount in the tank or how short the distance. Manholes and valves must not leak.

Flammable Liquids

Turn off your engine before loading or unloading any flammable liquid. Only run the engine if it is needed to operate a pump. Ground a cargo tank correctly before filling it through an open filling hole. Ground the tank before opening the filling hole, and maintain the ground until after closing the filling hole.

Compressed Gas

Keep liquid discharge valves on a compressed gas tank closed except when loading and unloading. Unless your engine must run a pump for product transfer, turn if off when loading or unloading. If you use the engine, turn if off after material delivery, before unhooking the hose.

Chlorine Cargo

Unhook all loading/unloading connections before coupling, uncoupling, or moving a chlorine cargo tank. Always chock trailers and semitrailers to prevent motion after the trailers are dropped.

Federal Driving and Parking Rules

Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 Explosives

Do not park with Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives within 5 feet of the traveled part of the road. Except for short periods of time needed for vehicle operation necessities (i.e., fueling), do not park within 300 feet of:

  • A bridge, tunnel, or building.
  • A place where people gather.
  • An open fire.

If you must park to do your job, only do so briefly. Do not park on private property unless the owner is aware of the danger. You must always watch the parked vehicle. You may let someone else watch it for you only if your vehicle is on the:

  • Shipper's property.
  • Carrier's property.
  • Consignee's property.

Vehicles may be parked unattended in a safe haven. A safe haven is a government approved place for parking unattended vehicles loaded with explosives. Designation of authorized safe havens are usually made by local authorities. In California, safe havens are designated by the CHP and referred to as "safe parking places."

Other Placarded Vehicles

You may park a placarded vehicle (not laden with explosives) within 5 feet of the traveled part of the road if your work requires it. You may park for only a brief time. Someone must always watch a vehicle parked with hazardous materials on a public roadway or shoulder. Do not uncouple or leave a trailer with hazardous materials on a public street. Do not park within 300 feet of an open fire.

Attending Parked Vehicles

The person attending a placarded vehicle must:

  • Be in the vehicle, awake, and not in the sleeper berth.
  • Within 100 feet of the vehicle and have it within clear view.
  • Be aware of the hazards.
  • Know what to do in emergencies.
  • Be able to move the vehicle, if necessary.

Drivers of vehicles required to be placarded or marked per 49 CFR 177.823 (CVC §27903) must also be driven and parked in compliance with state and local requirements (49 CFR 397.3).

Transporting Explosives in California

When transporting any amount of Division 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, or 1.6 EXPLOSIVES or a combination of any of these explosives together with a Division 1.5 EXPLOSIVE (blasting agent) as a delivery service or "for hire," you must use special routes, safe stopping places, safe parking places, and mandatory vehicle inspection locations prescribed by the CHP. When transporting more than 1000 lbs. of these explosives in private carriage (other than as a delivery service) the same requirements apply.

Transporting Inhalation Hazards in California

Shipments of materials designated as "Poison Inhalation Hazard," "Toxic Inhalation Hazard," or "Inhalation Hazard" per 49 CFR 172.203, when transported in bulk packagings (49 CFR 171.8), must also be transported using special routes, safe stopping places, and mandatory vehicle inspection locations prescribed by the CHP for these materials.

Transporting Radioactive Materials in California

There are also specific routes prescribed by the CHP for "Highway Route Controlled Quantity (HRCQ)" and "Radioactive Materials (RAM)" shipments.

Drivers must have in their possession, supplied by the carrier, a copy of the routes applicable to their shipment when transporting these materials. The routes, stopping places, and inspection locations are contained in 13 CCR 1150-1152.8 (Explosives), 1155-1157.20 (IH), and 1158-1159 (HRCQ). These requirements are also published by the CHP.

Motor carriers may receive these publications, including revisions, by indicating their request on the APPLICATION FOR HAZARDOUS MATERIALS TRANSPORTATION LICENSE or by contacting the Commercial Vehicle Section, Routing Coordinator at (916) 327-3310.

California General Hazardous Materials Routing Requirement

The following general routing and parking restrictions (CVC §31303) apply to hazardous material and hazardous waste shipments for which the display of vehicle placards and/or markings are required per CVC §27903 (except shipments subject to, and in conformance with, special routing and related requirements):

  • Unless specifically restricted or prohibited (CVC §31304), use state or interstate highways which offer the least transit time whenever possible.
  • Avoid, whenever practicable, congested highways, places where crowds are assembled, and residence districts (CVC §515).
  • Deviation from designated routes is not excusable on the basis of operating convenience.
  • Do not leave a loaded vehicle unattended or parked overnight in a residence district.
  • Except for specifically restricted or prohibited highways, other highways may be used that provide necessary access for pickup or delivery consistent with safe vehicle operation.
  • Highways which provide reasonable access to fuel, repairs, rest, or food facilities that are designed to and intended for commercial vehicle parking, when that access is safe and when the facility is within one-half mile of the points of exit and/or entry to the designated route.
  • Restricted or prohibited routes may only be used when no other lawful alternative exists. The CHP also publishes a list of restricted or prohibited highways (CVC §31304). Copies of this list may be obtained by contacting the Commercial Vehicle Section, Routing Coordinator at (916) 327-3310.

Flammable Cargo Restrictions

You might break down in a place where you must use stopped vehicle signals. Use reflective triangles or red electric lights. Do not use burning signals such as flares or fusees around a:

  • Tank used for flammable liquids or flammable gas whether loaded or empty.
  • Vehicle loaded with the following:
    • Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives.
    • Class 3 materials.
    • Division 2.1 flammable gas.

Do not smoke within 25 feet of a placarded tank used for flammable liquids or gases. Also, do not smoke or carry a lighted cigarette, cigar, or pipe within 25 feet of any vehicle which contains:

  • Class 1 (explosives).
  • Class 5.1 (oxidizers).
  • Class 3 (flammables, including tanks containing residue).

Fueling Restrictions

Turn off your engine before fueling a placarded vehicle. Someone must always be at the nozzle controlling fuel flow.

Fire Extinguishers

The power unit of placarded vehicles must have a fire extinguisher with a UL rating of at least 10 B:C or more. In California, tank vehicles or combinations of tank vehicles used to transport flammable or combustible liquids shall be equipped with at least one fire extinguisher rated not less than 20 B:C, serviced annually.

Tire Checks

The driver of a placarded vehicle with dual tires must make sure the tires are properly inflated. Check at the start of each trip and when you park. Check the tires every two hours or 100 miles, whichever is less. The only acceptable way to check tire pressure is to use a tire pressure gauge.

Do not drive with a tire that is leaking or flat except to the nearest safe place to fix it. Remove any overheated tire. Place it a safe distance from your vehicle. Do not drive until you have corrected the cause of overheating. Always follow the rules about parking and attending placarded vehicles. They apply even when checking, repairing, or replacing tires.

Where to Keep Shipping Papers

Do not accept a hazardous materials shipment without a properly prepared shipping paper. A shipping paper for hazardous materials must always be easily recognized. Other people must be able to find it quickly in the event of a collision.

  • Clearly distinguish hazardous materials shipping papers from others by tabbing them or keeping them on top of the stack of papers.
  • When you are behind the wheel, keep shipping papers within your reach (with your seat belt on), or in a pouch on the driver's door. They must be easily seen by someone entering the cab.
  • When not behind the wheel, leave the shipping papers in the driver's door pouch or on the driver's seat.
  • Emergency response information must be kept in the same manner as the shipping paper.

Papers Needed for Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 Explosives

A carrier must give each driver transporting Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives a copy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSR) part 397. The carrier must also give written instructions on what to do in the event of a collision or delay. The written instructions must include the:

  • Names and telephone numbers of people to contact (including carrier agents or shippers).
  • Nature of the explosives transported.
  • Precautions to take in emergencies such as fires, collisions, or leaks.

You must sign a receipt for these documents and be familiar with, and have in your possession while driving, the:

  • Shipping papers.
  • Written emergency instructions.
  • Written route plan.
  • Copy of FMCSR part 397.

Special Equipment for Chlorine

A driver transporting chlorine in cargo tanks must have an approved gas mask on the cargo tank. The driver must also have an emergency kit for controlling leaks in dome cover plate fittings on the cargo tank.

Railroad Crossings

Stop before crossing a railroad if your vehicle:

  • Is marked or placarded. (49 CFR 392.10)
  • Carries any amount of chlorine. (49 CFR 392.10)
  • Has cargo tanks, whether loaded or empty, used for hazardous materials or wastes. (49 CFR 392.10)

You must stop 15 to 50 feet before the nearest rail. Proceed only when you are sure no train is coming. Do not shift gears while crossing the tracks.

Dealing With Emergencies

The Department of Transportation publishes an Emergency Response Guidebook for fire fighters, police, and industry personnel. The guidebook tells them what to do first to protect themselves and the public from hazardous materials or wastes. The guidebook is indexed by shipping name and hazardous material ID number. Emergency personnel look for these things on the shipping paper. It is important that the proper shipping name, ID number, label, and placards used are correct.

Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG )

As a professional driver, your job at the collision scene is to:

  • Keep people away from the area.
  • Limit the spread of material, only if you are trained to do so.
  • Communicate the danger to emergency response personnel.
  • Provide emergency responders with the shipping papers and emergency response information.

Vehicle Collisions

Follow this checklist:

  1. Check to see that your driving partner is OK.
  2. Keep shipping papers with you.
  3. Keep people far away and upwind.
  4. Warn others of the danger.
  5. Send for help.
  6. Follow your employer's instructions.


You might have to control minor fires involving your vehicle on the road. However, unless you have the training and equipment to do so safely, do not fight hazardous materials fires. Dealing with hazardous materials fires requires special training and protective gear.

When you discover a fire, send someone or call 9-1-1 for help. You may use the fire extinguisher to keep minor vehicle fires from spreading to cargo before fire fighters arrive. You should feel trailer doors to see if they are hot before opening them. If hot, you may have a cargo fire and should not open the doors. Opening doors lets air in and may make the fire flare up. Without air many fires only smolder until firemen arrive, doing less damage. If your cargo is already on fire, it is not safe to fight the fire. Keep the shipping papers with you to give to emergency personnel as soon as they arrive. Warn other people of the danger and keep them away.


If you discover a cargo leak, identify the material by using shipping papers, labels, package location in trailer, and any other clue. Do not touch any leaking material. Many people, under the stress of handling an accident or leak, forget and injure themselves this way. Do not attempt to identify materials or find the source of a leak by smell. Many toxic gases destroy one's sense of smell. They can injure or kill you without smell. Do not eat, drink, or smoke around a leak or spill.

If no material is spilling from your vehicle, you may drive to the closest area where you can get help. Never move your vehicle if doing so will spread contamination or damage the vehicle. Keep downwind and away from roadside rest stops, truck stops, cafes, and businesses. Never try to repack leaking containers unless you have the training and equipment to repair leaks safely. Call your dispatcher or supervisor for instructions and, if needed, emergency personnel.

If hazardous material is spilling from your vehicle, you may move off the road and away from places where people gather, if doing so serves safety. Only move your vehicle if you can do so without danger to yourself or others.

Never continue driving with hazardous materials leaking from your vehicle even to find a phone booth, truck stop, help, or similar reason. Remember that the carrier pays for the cleanup of contaminated parking lots, roadways, and drainage ditches. If hazardous materials are spilling from your vehicle:

  • Park it and secure the area.
  • Stay there.
  • Call 9-1-1 or send someone else for help.

If you must send someone for help, give that person the following information in writing:

  • A description of the emergency.
  • Your exact location and direction of travel.
  • Your name, the carrier's name, and the name of the community or city where your terminal is located.
  • The shipping name, hazard class, and ID number of the material.

This information will help emergency crews to respond with the right equipment the first time.

Other Hazards

Explosives. If your vehicle breaks down or is in a collision while carrying explosives, you must warn others of the danger. Keep bystanders away. Do not allow smoking or open fire near the vehicle.

Do not try to pull apart vehicles involved in a collision until any explosive cargo is removed. The explosives should be placed at least 200 feet from the vehicles and occupied buildings. If there is a fire, warn everyone of the danger of explosion and leave the area.

Compressed gases. If compressed gas is leaking from your vehicle, warn others of the danger. Only permit those involved in removing the hazard or wreckage to get close. You must notify the shipper of the compressed gas of any collision or spill.

Do not transfer flammable compressed gas from one tank to another on any public roadway except in an emergency.

Flammable liquids. If you are transporting a flammable liquid and have a collision or your vehicle breaks down, prevent bystanders from gathering. Warn people of the danger. Keep them from smoking.

Never transport a leaking cargo tank farther than needed to reach a safe place. If safe to do so, get off the roadway. Do not transfer flammable liquid from one vehicle to another on a public roadway except in an emergency.

Flammable solids and oxidizing materials. If a flammable solid or oxidizing material spills, warn others of the fire hazard. Do not open smoldering packages of flammable solids. Remove them from the vehicle if you can safely do so. Also remove unbroken packages if it will decrease the fire hazard.

Corrosive materials. If corrosives spill or leak in transit, be careful to avoid further damage or injury when handling the containers. Parts of the vehicle exposed to a corrosive liquid must be thoroughly neutralized. Clean the interior as soon after unloading as possible, before reloading the vehicle.

If further transportation of a leaking tank would be unsafe, get off the road. If safe to do so, try to contain any liquid leaking from the vehicle. Keep bystanders away from the liquid and its fumes. Do everything possible to prevent injury to other highway users.

Poisons. You must protect yourself, other people, and property from harm. Remember that many products classed as poison are also flammable. Warn bystanders of the hazards of fire, of inhaling vapors, or coming in contact with the poison. Do not allow smoking or open flame.

A vehicle involved in a leak of Division 2.3 or Division 6.1 poisons must be checked for stray poison before being used again.

If you know that a leaking poison liquid or gas is flammable, take the added precautions needed for flammable liquids or gases.

Radioactive materials. If a leak or broken package involves radioactive materials, notify your dispatcher or supervisor as soon as possible. If there is a spill, or if an internal container might be damaged, do not touch or inhale the material. Do not use the vehicle until it is decontaminated and checked with a survey meter.

The National Response Center helps coordinate emergency response to chemical hazards. They are a resource to the local police and fire fighters. Their 24-hour toll free number is 1-800-424-8802 or within California, 1-800-852-7550. The person in charge of a vehicle involved in a collision may have to phone the National Response Center. The call will be in addition to any made to police or fire fighters. You or your employer must phone when any of the following occurs as a direct result of hazardous materials incident:

  • There is spill or release of a reportable quantity (RQ) hazardous substance.
  • A person is killed.
  • A person receives injuries requiring hospitalization.
  • Estimated carrier or other property damage exceeds $50,000.
  • The general public is evacuated for one or more hours.
  • One or more major transportation arteries or facilities are closed or shut down for one hour or more.
  • Fire, breakage, spillage, or suspected radioactive contamination occurs and/or involves a shipment of etiologic agents (bacteria or toxins).
  • A situation (e.g., continuing danger to life exists at the scene of an incident) that, in the judgment of the carrier, should be reported.

The person making the immediate telephone report should be ready to give:

  • His or her name.
  • Name and address of the carrier.
  • Phone number where someone can be reached.
  • Date, time, and location of incident.
  • The extent of injuries, if any.
  • Classification, name, and quantity of hazardous materials involved, if such information is available.
  • Type of incident and nature of hazardous substance involvement and whether a continuing danger to life exists at the scene.
  • If a reportable quantity of hazardous substance was involved, the caller should give the following:
    • the name of the shipper.
    • the quantity of the hazardous substance discharged.

You should know these immediate reporting requirements so you can give your employer the required information. Carriers must also make detailed written reports within 30 days.

The Chemical Transportation Emergency Center (CHEMTREC) in Washington D.C. also has a 24 hour toll free line (1-800-424-9300). CHEMTREC was established to provide emergency personnel with technical information about the physical properties of hazardous products. The National Response Center and CHEMTREC are in close communication. If you call either one, they will tell the other about the problem, when appropriate.

California Immediate Spill Reporting

Spills of hazardous materials on California highways must be reported immediately to the CHP office or police department having traffic control jurisdiction (CVC §23112.5).

Appendix A-Table of Hazard Class Definitions

Division 1.1 Explosives that have a mass explosion hazard (affects almost the entire load instantaneously). (Refer to 49 CFR 173.50(b)[1].)
Division 1.2 Explosives that have a projection hazard but not a mass explosion hazard. (Refer to 49 CFR 173.50 (b)[2].)
Division 1.3 Explosives that have a fire hazard and either a minor blast or projection hazard or both, but not a mass explosion hazard. (Refer to 49 CFR 173.50 (b)[3].)
Division 1.4 Explosives that present a minor explosion hazard (effects are largely confined to the package). (Refer to 49 CFR 173.50 (b)[4].)
Division 1.5 Explosives that are very insensitive (very little probability of detonation under normal transport condition). (Refer to 49 CFR 173.50 (b)[5].)
Division 1.6 Articles which do not have a mass explosive hazard (negligible probability of accidental detonation). (Refer to 49 CFR 173.50 (b)[6].)
Division 2.1 Flammable gas is any material which is a gas at 20°C (68°F) or less and 101.3 kPa (14.7 psi) of pressure and is ignitable when mixed with air. (Refer to 49 CFR 173.115[a].)
Division 2.2 Division 2.2 includes non-flammable, non-poisonous compressed gas including compressed gas, liquefied gas, pressurized cryogenic gas and compressed gas in solution, asphyxiant gas, or oxidizing gas with an absolute pressure of 280 kpa (40.6 PSIA) or greater at 20°C (68°F). (Refer to 49 CFR 173.115[b].)
Division 2.3 A gas poisonous by inhalation is a gas which is known to be so toxic to humans as to pose a hazard to health during transportaion. (Refer to 49 CFR 173.115[c].)

A flammable liquid means a liquid having a flash point of not more than 60.5°C (141°F), or any material in a liquid phase with a flash point at or above 37.8°C (100°F) that is intentionally heated and offered for transport, or transported at or above its flash point in a bulk package, with the following exceptions:

Any liquid meeting one of the definitions specified in 49 CFR 173.115 (gases). Any mixture having one or more components with a flash point of 60.5°C (141°F) or higher, that makes up at least 99% of the total volume of the mixture, if the mixture is not offered for transportation or transported at or above its flash point.

Division 4.1

A flammable solid means any of the following three types of material:

1. Desensitized Explosives that: A) when dry are explosives Class 1 other than those of compatibility group A, which are wetted with sufficient water, alcohol, or plasticizer to suppress explosive properties; and B) are specifically authorized by name and hazard class by the Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials under the provisions of an exemption issued under subchapter A of 49 CFR or an approval issued under 49 CFR 173.56(i).

2. Self-reactive materials are materials that are liable to undergo, at normal or elevated temperature, a strong exothermal decomposition caused by excessively high transport temperatures or by contamination, even without participation of oxygen (air).

3. Readily combustible materials are materials that are solids which may cause fire through friction such as matches; shows a burn rate of more than 2.2 mm (0.087 inches); or any metal powders that can be ignited and react over the whole length of the sample in 10 minutes or less.

Division 4.2

A spontaneously combustible material means:

1. A Pyrophoric Material-a liquid or solid that, even in small quantities, and without an external ignition source, can ignite within five minutes after coming in contact with air.

2. A Self-heating Material-a material that, when in contact with air and without an energy supply is liable to self heat. A material of this type which exhibits spontaneous ignition or if the temperature of a sample exceeds 200°C (392°F) in 24 hours is a Division 4.2 material.

Division 4.3 A dangerous when wet material is a material that, by contact with water, is liable to become spontaneously flammable or to give off flammable or toxic gas. (Refer to 49 CFR 173.124 [c].)
Division 5.1 An oxidizer is any material that may, generally by yielding oxygen, cause or enhance the combustion of other materials. (Refer to 49 CFR 173.127 [a].)
Division 5.2 Organic peroxide is a compound containing oxygen (O) in the bivalent -O-O structure and which may be considered a derivative of hydrogen peroxide where one or more of the hydrogen atoms have been replaced by organic radicals. (Refer to 49 CFR 173.128 [a].)
Division 6.1 A poisonous material is any material, other than a gas, which is known to be so toxic to humans that it causes a hazard to health during transportation. (Refer to 49 CFR 173.132 [a].)
Division 6.2 An infectious substance is a viable microorganism, or its toxin, which causes or may cause disease in humans or animals. (Refer to 49 CFR 173.134 [a].)


A corrosive material is any liquid or solid that causes visible destruction or irreversible alterations in human skin tissue at the site of contact, or a liquid that has a severe corrosion rate on steel or aluminum. (Refer to 49 CFR 173.136 [a].)


A miscellaneous hazardous material is any material which presents a hazard during transportation but which does not meet the definition of any other hazard class. (Refer to 49 CFR 173.140.)


Other Regulated Materials (ORM) means a material such as a consumer commodity, which, although otherwise subject to the regulations of 49 CFR 173, presents a limited hazard during transportation due it its form, quantity, and packaging. (Refer to 49 CFR 173.144.)


A combustible liquid is any liquid that does not meet the definition of any other hazard class and has a flash point above 141°F, but less than 220°F. (Refer to 49 CFR 173.120[a]).

NOTE: Some flammable liquids with a flash point at or above 100°F may be reclassed as combustible liquid for domestic transportation (Refer to 49 CFR 173.120[b]).

a chart showing hazardous materials warning labels.

a chart showing hazardous materials warning placards.

a chart showing general guidelines on use of warning labels and placards.

Section 8: Tank Vehicles | Table of Contents | Section 10: School Buses

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