Shippers of Hazardous Waste Must Get Training on US DOT Hazardous Materials Regulations

The US department of Transportation, or US DOT, requires extensive employee training for companies who are involved with shipping of hazardous materials.

This applies to anything that meets US DOT Hazardous Materials Regulations (aka: HMR) from paints, chemicals and hazardous products, to hazardous wastes.

There’s a wide range of impacted companies and activities that fall under this training requirement, but this blog only discusses training issues impacting shippers of hazardous waste.

Over my 22 years of experience in the hazardous waste management industry, lack of training is one of the most common violations that I’ve seen over the years and it’s almost due to a lack of awareness or knowledge by company management regarding these training requirements.

The Most Common DOT Related Hazardous Materials Violations:

In addition to failing to conduct hazardous materials training, here are the 2 most common hazardous waste shipping violations that occur as a result of lack of training, which can result in additional fines and penalties.

1) All hazardous waste shipments must be documented on a shipping document called a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest. This document includes both EPA, Environmental Protection Agency ,and DOT requirements.  The DOT portion of the document includes 2 primary areas: 1) the proper shipping name section and 2) within the “certification” language where the shipper signs the document.

Keep in mind that that this applies to any type of hazardous waste, from simple flammable paints, fluorescent bulbs or batteries, to “exotic” spent plating solutions.

It also applies to any quantity of hazardous waste, no matter how small.

The moment a non-trained employee signs (print/sign/date) the manifest, the violation has occurred and will “live” forever as recorded evidence of the violation for inspectors to find and cite at any time in the future.

2) The second most common violation occurs when employees fail to properly label hazardous waste containers.  This includes assigning incorrect proper shipping names, or omitting entirely, and/or failing to affix the correct hazard class “diamond” label, or omitting  entirely.

Who Must Be Trained:

Hazardous materials training requirements apply to any employee who engages in the following common hazardous waste related activities:

  • Characterizes or classifies hazardous wastes
  • Signs Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifests
  • Assigns hazardous waste proper shipping names
  • Selects hazardous waste packaging, including drums, totes and boxes
  • Loads, unloaded, moves, handlers or works near hazardous wastes.
  • Determines if transport vehicle requires placarding and if so, which placarding.
  • Labels hazardous waste containers
  • Evaluates and selects transporters of hazardous wastes
  • Responds to hazardous waste leaks and spills on public roads

These training requirements also apply to supervisors and managers of employees engaged in these activities.

Failure to properly train these employees can result in DOT hazardous materials fines which can be as high as $83,439 per day, per violation and the minimum is $50 per day, per violation.

Required Training Categories

Hazardous materials employers must determine which level of training applies to its employees based on their job tasks and functions.  Here the major types and areas of hazardous materials training:

  1. General Awareness Training: At a minimum, all hazmat employees must be given a general understanding of the entire hazardous materials transportation program, so that they know how their jobs fit into the system.
  2. Function-specific Training: All hazmat employees must also be trained on any specific job functions that they perform in relation to the hazardous materials regulations.
  3. Safety Training: Persons handling or potentially exposed to hazardous materials during the cycle of transportation (e.g., drivers, loaders, loading dock workers, and warehousemen) must be trained in safe handling and emergency response procedures applicable to the hazards to which they may be exposed.
  4. Security Awareness Training: All hazmat employees must be trained to recognize and protect against potential terrorist threats involving hazardous material shipments.
  5. Security Plan Training: Each hazmat employee preparing or transporting certain high-risk shipments (as defined at 49 CFR 172.800(b)) must also be trained in company security objectives, organizational structure and specific procedures, and responsibilities or actions required from them.

Frequency of hazardous materials training:

All employees engaged in any or all hazardous waste activities described above, must be trained before engaging in these activities before starting work, and every 3 years afterwards.  These additional training sessions must cover the entire curriculum included in the original training, as opposed to a shorted “refresher” training curriculum.

Employees cannot continue performing hazardous materials activities until recurring training has occurred.

All hazardous materials training must include testing for comprehension and training records must be maintained on file.

Updated training must also occur whenever US DOT issues new or revised rules applicable to employee activities or when employees are assigned new tasks or responsibilities not addressed in previous training.


If your company ships any type(s) of hazardous waste, regardless of frequency or quantity, it’s vital that DOT Hazardous Materials Training be delivered to appropriate employees. Companies who fail to take action risk major DOT fines and penalties.

This is just one of the Top 10 Hazardous Waste Violations in Texas, click left to learn more about the rest….

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