When people hear the term hazardous materials, they tend to think of harmful substances that are used in industrial and manufacturing processes and in research facilities. However, the truth is that hazardous materials are not limited to a specific setting, process, or industry.
In fact, hazardous materials are all around us! From gasoline to rust removers, we come into contact with a variety of different hazardous materials on a daily basis.
Every day, hazardous materials are manufactured, packaged, and transported across the length and breadth of the country. Even a minor error in any of these processes can result in catastrophic accidents with devastating consequences. This is why hazmat training is mandatory for all employees who are involved in the handling and shipping of hazardous materials.
What is Hazmat Training?
Hazmat training is designed to educate hazmat employees about the different types of hazardous materials and the risks they pose and provide them with the knowledge and training they need to handle and transport these materials safely.
Why Would I Need to Learn About Hazardous Materials Regulations?
Hazardous materials are a part of our everyday life. They are used in products we use on a daily basis. For instance, propane – a common fuel source for barbecue grills – is a Class 2.1, Flammable Compressed Gas hazardous material. Similarly, alcohol-based perfumes, aftershaves, and colognes are Class 3, Flammable Liquids hazardous materials.
Other hazardous materials that we commonly use or might come into contact with include:
- Paints, paint thinners, rust removers, acetylene, and other construction materials
- Hand sanitizers
- Airbags in vehicles
- Lead acid batteries
- Lithium batteries
- Ammonium nitrate fertilizers
- Medical oxygen
- Carbon dioxide used in frozen goods
These materials are manufactured in large quantities and shipped to every corner of the country – and to other countries as well – on a regular basis. Even the slightest mistake during the production, storage, transportation, or disposal of these materials can result in a hazardous material incident, the consequences of which can be extremely serious.
For example, chlorine is used in a wide range of household products as well as for industrial purposes. It is generally pressurized, cooled, and converted into a liquid so that it can be stored and transported easily. However, if there is a leak, it will turn into a gas and spread quickly.
If you come into contact with chlorine gas, you might experience a wide range of symptoms including a burning sensation in the eyes, nose, and throat, blurred vision, coughing, nausea, and shortness of breath. Exposure to liquid chlorine or a concentrated form of chlorine gas can result in chemical burns and frostbites as well.
If a hazmat employee who is involved in the production, storage, or shipping of chlorine or chlorine based products does not know anything about the aforementioned hazards, the results can be disastrous – not just for the employee in question, but also to other people.
This is why it is extremely important for you – as well as anyone who is associated with hazmat shipping in any capacity – to undergo hazmat training on a regular basis.
What Are the Different Types of Hazmat Training?
Hazmat employees are required to undergo training based on their responsibilities which may in include:
Familiarization or General Awareness Training
- Identifying the nine classes of hazardous materials and understanding the criteria based on which they are classified
- Understanding the hazardous materials regulations that are to be complied with while handling and transporting the materials
- Understanding the level of risk posed by different types of hazardous materials
- Learning the safety measures to be taken while handling the materials
- Measures to be taken to minimize the risk of hazardous material incidents at facilities and the steps to be taken in the event of an accident
Function Specific Training
- Learning how to perform specific job functions safely and efficiently
- Understanding the hazardous materials regulations that are to be complied with while performing specific job functions
Security Awareness Training
- Understanding the level of risks posed by different types of hazardous materials
- Understanding the security risks associated with transporting hazardous materials
- Learning how to recognize and respond to potential security threats while transporting hazardous materials
In-Depth Security Training
- Understanding the security objectives of the organization you work for
- Understanding the security duties and responsibilities associated with your job
- Learning the security procedures to be followed while performing specific job functions
- Learning the steps to be taken in the event of a security breach involving hazardous materials
Apart from this, hazmat training programs are also classified based on how the materials are transported. These include:
Shipping by Ground Training
It is meant for employees who are involved in the transportation of hazardous materials by ground. It is designed based on the regulations and safety standards specified in Title 49 of the US Code of Federal Regulations.
Shipping by Vessel Training
It is meant for employees who are involved in the transportation of hazardous materials by ocean. It is designed based on the International Maritime Organization’s regulations and safety standards.
Shipping by Air Training
It is meant for hazmat employees who are involved in the transportation of hazardous materials by air. This type of online training is designed based on the regulations and safety standards of the International Air Transport Association and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Multimodal online training is meant for all employees who handle hazardous materials and is involved in the transportation of the materials by ground, air, and/or ocean or a combination off any of the three.
How Do You Get Hazmat Certified?
You can get hazmat certified by completing an online training program that is best suited for your line of work. For instance, if you are involved in the transportation of hazardous materials by ground, you need to undergo a transportation training program that is based on the regulations specified in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR).
Depending on your preference, you can opt for an onsite, webinar or an online training program. Once you complete the training, you can receive your hazmat certification.
Who Needs Hazardous Materials Training?
If you meet the criteria for a hazmat employee – as specified in Section 171.1 of 49 CFR – you are required to undergo a hazardous materials training program regularly.
For instance, if your job requires you to classify hazardous materials, choose hazmat packaging, fill, mark, or label hazmat packages, or choose the mode of transportation to ship the materials, you can be classified as a hazmat employee, and you are required to undergo hazmat training. You can find the full list of functions that can classify you as a hazmat employee here.
How Often Do Hazmat Employees Need to Undergo Training?
Before you perform any function related to hazardous materials, you must complete the appropriate training program and get certified. Similarly, if there is a change in your job function – due to a promotion or due to any other reason – you need to complete a training program which is specific to your job duties.
After completing your initial hazmat training, you are required to complete recurrent training programs every two years (if you are involved in hazmat transportation by air) or every three years (if you are involved in hazmat transportation by ground or ocean).
Is Hazmat Training Only Required for Those Who Ship Hazardous Materials Regularly?
No. Hazmat training is mandatory for everyone who is involved in the transportation of hazardous materials – regardless of how much material is transported or how often it is transported.
Importance of Hazmat Storage Training
Improper storage of hazardous materials can increase the risk of mishaps significantly. For instance, packages containing hazardous materials that are known to react with each other must not be stored adjacent to each other under any circumstances. You must verify the respective regulation to determine the specific requirements.
Even within the same hazard class, some materials might have to be stored separately. For instance, mineral acids like nitric acid must not be stored together with organic acids like acetic acid – even though they belong to the same hazard class.
The warehouses and transportation vehicles and freight containers where hazardous materials are stored must have segregated areas for different types of hazardous materials, temperature-controlled rooms, and built-in safety features to mitigate the risk of hazardous material incidents.
Hazmat Training for the Transportation Industry
Hazardous materials transportation is an area where there is no room for mistakes. Every aspect of the transportation – right from the point where the materials are loaded into the vehicle, aircraft, or vessel (depending on the mode of transportation) to the point of delivery – needs to be carefully planned. At every step, employees must make sure they follow all the safety protocols and comply with all the necessary regulations.
One of the reasons why hazmat training is so important for hazmat employees in the transportation industry is that the DOT compliance regulations can change depending on the mode of transportation. The same material might have to be packaged differently depending on whether it is transported by ground, air, or ocean.
Hazmat Training for First Responders
First responders like firefighters, police officers, and paramedics often have to deal with emergencies involving hazardous materials. They can handle these situations safely only if they have the required expertise and training. Otherwise, they might worsen what might already be an extremely dangerous situation, which can put them – as well as other people – at risk.
For instance, if a fire accident is caused by a hazardous material which is classified as Class 4.3, Dangerous When Wet, first responders must not use water to extinguish the fire. This is because chemicals that come under this classification are water-reactive and tend to become flammable or emit a flammable gas when they come into contact with water.
A good example of a substance that is dangerous when wet is sodium. Upon making contact with water, sodium tends to undergo an exothermic reaction and release a tremendous amount of heat. So, if a first responder tries to put out a sodium fire using water, the results could be catastrophic.
What Does Hazmat Training for First Responders Involve?
Hazmat training for first responders typically involves the following components.
- Classification of hazardous materials
- Identification of hazardous materials
- Package and packing of hazardous materials
- Communication (marking, labeling, segregating, placarding, and preparing shipping papers)
By undergoing the training program, first responders can learn how to identify hazardous materials, understand the level of threat they pose, and how to respond to emergencies involving various hazardous materials.
In the event of a hazardous material incident, a trained first responder will be able to look for identifiers on the package, interpret the documentation, understand the nature and level of hazard they are dealing with, and act accordingly.
Why is Adequate Safety Training So Important?
Hazardous materials – due to their nature – need to be handled with care at every point – from production to packaging, storage, transportation, and delivery. If an employee makes a mistake at any stage of the operation, the chances of a mishap can increase significantly.
For instance, if an untrained hazmat employee is assigned to handle hazardous materials, they might not be able to ensure the proper compliance, loading and placarding of the hazmat packages. In such a scenario, the risks of a mishap while the packages are in transit are extremely high, as illustrated in the graphic below:
Similarly, if the employees involved in the loading and unloading of hazmat packages are not properly trained, they might not know which hazard class of materials can be placed together and which must not be. Needless to say, it can lead to serious accidents and environmental health issues.
Moreover, hazmat training is not just meant to ensure the safety and well-being of the employees who are involved in the operations. It is also essential to improve the safety and efficiency of response measures to hazardous material incidents.
For instance, if a hazmat package is not properly labeled or if the placarding information is inaccurate, first responders might not know what to do in the event of an emergency. What is even worse is that they might initiate the wrong response measures based on the inaccurate information, which can worsen the situation and put everyone involved at grave risk.
Above all, hazardous material incidents can have a devastating impact on the environment as well. If there is a mishap in a vessel carrying hazmat packages, the materials could spill into the ocean, which can have a harmful effect on the marine ecosystem. To mitigate the risks of such accidents, adequate transportation training is essential for workers, loaders, shippers, contractors, and other parties that are involved in the production, storage, and transportation of hazardous materials.
What are the Penalties for Failing to Comply with Hazardous Materials Regulations?
Businesses, independent contractors, and other parties that are involved in the production, storage, and transportation of hazardous materials are required to comply with a wide range of federal regulations. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in civil as well as criminal penalties – depending on the extent of the violation and its consequences.
Lack of training, and hazardous materials that are improperly packaged, labeled, and/or documented can result in fines and penalties levied by the national authorities in the countries where these mistakes and/or violations occur. In the United States, the US Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, the US Coast Guard, and other modal and local authorities have enforcement authority relating to shipments of hazardous materials. Violations can result in fines and even imprisonment:
• Civil infractions: Up to $84,425 per violation (per day); up to $196,992 if the violation results in death, severe injury or destruction of property;
• Violations related to training subject to minimum penalty of $508;
• Violations may result in criminal prosecution including up to ten years in prison.
Hazmat University – Home of the Most Comprehensive Hazmat Training and Certification Programs
At Hazmat University, we know the importance of proper hazmat training more than anyone else. It is why we offer the most comprehensive online hazmat training courses that are designed by instructors with years of experience in hazmat handling and transportation. No matter where you are, you can complete the required online training at your own pace and get certified – right from the comfort of your home or any remote location while having internet access.
We update our training material as and when needed to make sure our programs are in compliance with the latest national and international regulations. Our safety training programs contain quizzes and interactive exercises that can make learning interesting for you.
Whether you are involved in ground, ocean, or air-based hazmat transportation, we have the right training programs for you. To find out more about our hazmat transportation training programs, call us today at 844-307-8345 or contact us online by filling out this form. We’re ready to help you and your team Be Confident, Be Competent, and Be Compliant.