Shippers of hazardous materials who ship products using the US Postal Service (USPS) may be pleased with a new ruling from that agency. In a response letter dated 31 January 2014 and addressed to the Council On Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles (COSTHA) in reference to a September 2013 inquiry made by that body, USPS agreed to a recent COSTHA request to align the Hazardous Materials Regulations appearing in the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) with those appearing in the US 49 CFR USDOT regulations, in the following manner:
- USPS agreed to extend the authorized use of the ORM-D (Other Regulated Material- Domestic) marking for goods so classified, for surface transportation, until December 31st, 2020. This date matches that presently set by the USDOT for expiry of their authorization to use the marking. Note: for more information on the correct use of this marking under USDOT regulations, see US 49 CFR 172.316.
- USPS is also revising DMM 601.10.1d to read as follows in reference to the standard regarding consumer commodities:
“consumer commodities intended for air transport may only include articles or substances that meet the definition of consumer commodities in hazard class 2 (non-toxic aerosols only), class 3 (Packaging group II and II only), Division 6.1 (packaging group III) only and UN 3077, UN 3082 provided they do not have subsidiary risk and are authorized aboard passenger aircraft.” (Sic)
Note: in the second item, the letter refers to “class 3 (Packaging Group II and II).” It is very likely that this is a typo and the letter instead intends that it read groups II and III. However, it is presented above as it appears in the correspondence. The letter also uses the term “packaging” vice “packing” several times in this section. Nevertheless, the two actions taken together do further align the USPS hazardous materials regulations with the USDOT regulations governing similar issues.
What does this really mean to me?:
Shippers who use the Postal Service to transport Hazardous Materials will find the increasing harmonization between USPS and USDOT regulations to be a helpful development. This will particularly apply, at least at first, to very small businesses and/or laboratories who may ship only tiny amounts of hazardous goods and who may have had difficulty navigating the sometimes complex world of USDOT fully-regulated shipments. Ability to package, label, and mark materials in the same or very similar ways for both USPS and USDOT transported shipments should prove a boon to such entities and provide additional flexibility to their transport operations.
Here is a link to the text of the letter:
COSTHA is a not-for-profit industry group concerned with regulations, standards, and other issues affecting the transport in commerce of hazardous materials/dangerous goods. For more information about COSTHA, see their website at www.costha.org.
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