The United States Department of Transportation oversees the transportation of hazardous materials under the requirements of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act of 1975. According to the HMTA, a hazardous material is defined as “any substance or material that can burn, explode, react violently or cause injury or harm to people, property or the environment during transport.” Biohazard material or biological agents, substance or materials that can cause injury to animals, humans or the environment is covered under the HMTA. The U.S. DOT has specific requirements for the transportation of these materials.
Before handling or transporting a biohazard material, an employee must attend and complete a DOT-approved minimum 8-hour training course that covers aspects of HAZMAT such as identification, labeling, packaging and placard requirements. The employee must pass a test on the subjects covered to satisfy this requirement.
Transport Hazard Communication Markings
Hazard communication refers to labeling specific types of hazardous materials with a placard on the side and rear of the transport vehicle. The placard requirements differ depending on the type of hazardous material as specified by the Hazardous Materials Table in the HMTA. Biohazard materials are covered under Class 6 and 7 of the Hazardous Materials Table, poisons and etiologic materials are covered under Class 6, and radioactive materials are covered under Class 7.
Biohazard materials must be transported within a leak-proof, sealed and puncture-resistant tank or container. In addition to the required Transport Hazard Communication markings, containers being transported must have hazard documentation at all times, including relevant information concerning the contents such as the accumulation date, the specific hazardous properties of the material being transported, the name and address of the company or laboratory to where the material is being transported and where it is coming from and the composition (whether the material is solid or liquid).