Shipping and Receiving Hazardous Materials

Hazardous Materials or Dangerous Goods are identified as posing an elevated or significant risk to public health, property or the environment while in transit.  The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) under the US Department of Transportation (DOT) exists to ensure the safe transportation of Hazardous Materials.  Any person affecting the safety of the transportation of Hazardous Materials in commerce must receive training commensurate to their duties.  Regulated transportation activities may include but are not limited to packaging, marking, labeling, preparing shipping papers, driving, loading etc. – all requiring appropriate training.  These trained employees are qualified in how to comply with the extensive regulations and assure your hazardous material will be safely managed by all downstream handlers.  The potential for significant incidents caused by improper adherence to the regulations is reflected in the stiff penalties, fines or imprisonment that can be levied by the DOT.

To increase safety and limit risk, only qualified OEHS personnel can ship hazardous materials from the University of Utah (some exclusions may apply)The following matrix will guide you to the appropriate contact.

Hazardous Material (Dangerous Good) Category Comments Examples Shipped By:
Hazardous Chemicals Consult OEHS to help you determine if your chemical is DOT hazardous Flammables, Oxidizers, Corrosives, Toxic, Category-A infectious substances OEHS Only
Radiological Materials The Radiological Health Department will be able to assist in determining when regulations need to be implemented Radioactively labeled tissues, articles, devices etc. Rad Health
Infectious Substances Category B An infectious substance not in a form generally capable of causing permanent disability or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals when exposure to it occurs. (ie. An infectious substance not in Category-A) HIV (Non cultures), Hepatitis (Non cultures), West Nile (Non cultures), SARS Trained Lab Personnel (Register for Live Training Class here)
Infectious Substances Category A An infectious substance in a form capable of causing permanent disability or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals when exposure to it occurs Cultures of: HIV, Bacillus anthracis, Escherichia coli verotoxigenic, Herpes B virus etc. OEHS Only
Dry Ice Any dry ice shipments including Non-Regulated samples and biological materials that require to be frozen. Frozen Exempt Human Specimens, proteins, DNA, Antibodies Trained Lab Personnel (Register for Live Training Class here)


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If you suspect or literature suggests your chemical will pose an elevated risk to health, property or the environment you may have a hazardous material.  Unless you are trained in the specifics of DOT classification, please contact OEHS for assistance to make that determination.  Hazardous Materials include but are not limited to goods that exhibit the following characteristics: explosive, oxidizing, reactive, toxic, infectious, radioactive, corrosive, flammable gases, liquids and solids.  The DOT hazmat regulations are contained in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR) see 49 CFR 172.101.

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  1. Requestor initiates the process by submitting a shipment request via Dangerous Goods Shipping Request form at least 3 working days prior to shipment. Please make sure that all sections are filled out accurately and completely including attaching Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and other useful information.  Failure to do so will result in delay of shipment.
  2. The Shipping Coordinator is notified via email then schedules a pick-up of the chemical(s).  All information is verified at the pickup location, the primary container is inspected for integrity and appropriate labeling.
  1. The Shipping Coordinator will pick-up, categorize, package, mark, label, prepares shipping documentation and offer your package for transportation by an external contracted carrier.
  2. Carrier picks up chemical for shipment.
  1. Shipping coordinator notifies requestor of shipment completion by email. This will include tracking number.
  2. The requesting Department is billed back for the carrier charges.  Labor, Equipment and Materials are not presently billed back.


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To prepare your goods for pickup by OEHS please follow these guidelines:

  • Use appropriate containers.  This includes using containers compatible with internal chemical, airtight lids and having exterior clean, free of any chemical contamination. Corks, cotton plugs, tape, or parafilm are not acceptable lids.
  • Ensure all containers are accurately labeled with exact names as well as exact contents (including percentages of each chemical if it is a mixture).  Do not use abbreviations or chemical formulas.
  • Place copies of the request form receipt onto chemicals to be shipped as well as copies of SDS. This ensures OEHS will be able to locate chemicals to be shipped while in your lab for pickup.


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Before Accepting Any Package:

  • Pre-coordinate with your 3rd party Shipping Partner. When you receive our customer-focused training, you will learn how you can encourage helpful and compliant practices among those vendors and partners you expect to receive shipments from.
  • Identify what you are handling. Regardless of the origin of your package there are universally recognized diamond shaped labels of 9 DOT hazard classes that identify your package as a dangerous good and communicate some inherent characteristic.  Additionally, every dangerous goods package must include a Declaration of Dangerous Goods or a Bill of Lading that will identify the chemical, the package weight and provide any special handling instructions.
  • Inspect the package. Use your senses when inspecting a DG package.  Evidence of packaging issues like leaks are usually observable on the exterior surfaces of packages.  Sometimes, however, because liquids are often packed into a plastic bag, a leak is not visible but sensed by a passing odor.  If you suspect a compromised package, DO NOT ACCEPT the shipment.  Damaged, wet or leaking packages are the responsibility of the transporter.  They should be equipped with ways to either clean up the spill or overpack the damaged goods.

After Accepting a Hazardous Materials Package:

  • Handle packages with care. Carry securely, use mechanical devices (cart, dolly) where necessary.  Always use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Store Package appropriately. Store all dangerous goods upright with label facing outwards, away from pedestrian paths until it is delivered or picked up by the intended recipient.  The package should always be under the control of authorized individuals.  An unsecure HM package could potentially be used nefariously.  Do not stack boxes, this will reduce the possibility of accidental tipping.


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Several areas of potential security vulnerability are important to consider when offering HAZMAT for shipment:

  • Limit Access – shippers of hazardous materials must limit access to their packages to trained personnel only, and must ensure their package remains in their possession and control until it is transferred to the carrier (or secured in a designated mailroom).
  • Shippers must not leave packages containing hazardous materials at drop boxes.
  • Report Suspicious Activity – Immediately report to Public Safety any suspicious persons or activity in your laboratory or in any area where hazardous materials may be present.