How 49 CFR Affects Every U.S. Shipper & Why You Need to Use It

You may be aware that hazmat employees involved in transporting hazardous materials by highway/ground in the United States must follow the regulations listed in 49 CFR. You may also be aware that exporting and importing dangerous goods by air and sea requires compliance with international regulations in addition to 49 CFR, and that IATA DGR is the preferred industry manual even when shipping by air domestically. This may cause some to wonder how the different regulations may clash or interact, but the truth is that they more often complement each other – which is why you find 49 CFR training included in different hazmat training courses. Here is some information on that, as well as how 49 CFR affects every US shipper and why you need to use it when preparing hazardous materials shipments.

The Importance of 49 CFR

The Hazardous Materials Regulations of the United States are found in Title 49 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 100-185 (also known as “49 CFR”).  These regulations are issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and they govern the transportation of hazardous materials to, from, through or within the United States. Their governance encompasses all modes of transportation – air, highway, rail, and water.  Violations of regulations found in the CFR constitute the violation of U.S. law.

Why, then, is the transportation of dangerous goods by air done in compliance with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations, and vessel transport in accordance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code)?  Because 49 CFR authorizes preparation of shipments in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (which is the basis of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations), and the IMDG Code for vessel transportation – with limitations.  If these limitations are not acknowledged and complied with when applicable, the shipment is not compliant with 49 CFR – the “law of the land” in the United States – and could subject the shipper to fines and/or penalties, including imprisonment if the violation is deemed to be criminal in nature.

Variations and Requirements

49 CFR Part 171, Subpart C is titled “Authorization and Requirements for the Use of International Transport Standards and Regulations”, and contains the additional conditions, requirements and limitations regarding the use of the ICAO Technical Instructions, the IMDG Code, the Transport Canada TDG Regulations, and with regard to radioactive materials, the International Atomic Energy Agency Safety Standards. These conditions and requirements can dramatically affect the preparation and transport of a hazardous materials shipment, and their importance cannot be understated.

While the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations conveniently reference most of these U.S. differences in the U.S. Variations, one cannot understand nor comply with these ‘variations’ without consulting the 49 CFR citations referenced in them. The IMDG Code does not publish “variations,” but the shipper is still entirely responsible for ensuring that hazardous materials being offered are in compliance with the laws of the countries of origin, destination, and where applicable, transit ports.

There are other possible requirements of 49 CFR that may not be addressed in an IATA or IMDG training course, such as the requirements for shippers and transporters of hazardous materials to register with the U.S. DOT (in accordance with 49 CFR Part 107, Subpart G), the responsibilities of importers to provide the shipper with timely and complete information as to the 49 CFR requirements that will apply to the transportation of the material within the United States (49 CFR §171.1(b)(10)), and the vehicle placarding requirements listed in 49 CFR Part 172, Subpart F.

Begin 49 CFR Training Today

There is no excuse for not being compliant – the entire Code of Federal Regulations is updated regularly and available online, and PHMSA also administers the Online CFR. Ensure that your training is compliant with U.S. requirements by completing 49 CFR training through the Bureau of Dangerous Goods’ classroom or online Hazmat University offerings.  And as always, please contact us if you have any questions or require any further information!