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Where Do You Put Hazmat Placards?

In the United States and abroad, the hazardous material placard plays an essential role in the safe shipping and handling of hazardous materials. A placard is a clear identifier in the form of a sign or sticker that must be affixed to hazmat packaging in order to identify to the public the pertinent safety and risk information regarding the package’s contents. Depending on what is being shipped, these placards will contain information from one of the nine classes of hazardous materials, identified by a specific color. It’s important that hazmat placard placement is standardized and that they stand out to be recognized. Noncompliance with this standardization can carry hefty fines and costly delays in the shipping process.


Hazmat Placard Placement – What Are the Requirements?

When it comes to the shipping and handling of hazardous materials, public safety is paramount. The United Nations has set forth a standard for each hazard type as well as a UN number that corresponds with the hazard. In order to keep everyone safe, labels bearing this UN number are required to be visible at all times during the transportation process. Labels are required for individual packaging, overpacks, and transport vehicles, and there are specific placement regulations for each.


Individual Packaging & Overpacks

If shipments contain different products within the same class of hazardous materials, each box or carton must be labeled individually to identify the contents. On individual packaging, the hazardous material label can either be printed or affixed to one side – the UN number and class sticker should both be present in close proximity, and not around the corner from the other. In the United States, the hazard class number is required to be displayed in the bottom corner of a subsidiary risk label for all shipments occurring after October 1, 2005. In the case of overpacks where a pallet of one hazardous material type is being shipped as a larger unit, hazmat label placement should be on the outside of the overpack unless it can be easily viewed through clear packaging such as shrink wrap.


Transport Vehicles

Vehicles transporting hazardous materials must also bear a hazardous material placard to identify the type of materials being transported. Hazmat placard placement depends on how the load is being shipped, whether by container or inside of a semi-trailer. Placards are larger than hazmat labels and clearly communicate the contents of a shipment at all times. All four sides of the container or trailer must contain a hazardous material placard displayed in the proper square-on-point configuration, and each must be placed a minimum of three inches from other markings.


Why Are DOT Placards Important?

Department of Transportation (DOT) placards communicate crucial information about the type of hazards being transported and don’t rely on a specific language. They can be identified by anyone, which is all that matters in the case of an emergency. Mandatory in the United States and abroad, hazmat placard placement enables emergency first responders to understand what the risks are in the event of an accident, and what will need to be considered as they administer care. While in transit, a hazardous material placard also offers special handling instructions to keep workers safe and warns the public that hazardous materials are present in larger quantities.