49CFR 127.407


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I was told once by my father, that if you stand still long enough, someone will eventually start a line behind you, see he felt that a lot of people were sheep. In fact, it was not uncommon for him to slowly and quietly “ Baaa”, when he was in a line waiting for non-existent or quite frankly even slow service. 

On December 21, 2017, Tom Ferguson from the Council on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles, in Queensbury, New York, sent a letter to the Department of Transportation concerning their recent  49 CFR 172.407 label specification amendments. The amendment stated that on December 31st, 2018 the inner border line of each hazard class hazardous material container label must be at least 2 mm wide, as apposed to the old requirements for the inner border line to be at least 1 mm.



First, did you know current DOT regulations state that the diamond (square-on-point) hazard class labels must be at least 100 mm (3.9 inches) on each side with each side having a solid line inner border 5 mm inside and parallel to the edge. The 5 mm measurement is from the outside edge of the label to the outside of the solid line forming the inner border and the width of the solid line forming the inner border must be at least 2 mm, not the current 1 mm.  

Listen, unchanged is the size of the labels hazard class or division number that appear on the label, which still must be at least 6.3 mm (0.25 inches) but not greater than 12.7 mm (0.5 inches).  Then, any label names and any text indicating the hazard, that is displayed on a label, still must be shown in letters measuring at least 7.6 mm (0.3 inches) in height. 

There are two important exceptions, first for the SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTIBLE or DANGEROUS WHEN WET labels, in which the words “Spontaneously” and “When Wet” must be shown in letters measuring at least 5.1 mm, (0.2 inches) in height

And, the second, could be used only if the size of a package was to small to accommodate the aforementioned specification labels. The dimensions of the label and its features may be reduced as long as the symbol and other elements of the label remain clearly visible. Please, don’t try reducing the spec labels because the solid line forming the inner border still must remain 5 mm from the outside edge of the label and also, the minimum width of the line must remain at least 2 mm, even though all the other features (images, letters and type) shall be in approximate proportion to the larger labels.

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Here’s the kicker, the United Nations Committee of Experts on Dangerous Goods, has decided the thickness of the inner border line, has little if any affect on safety and has authorized the use for the old 1 millimeter inner border line on the international hazard class labels. If you have anticipated the changes in the labels on December 31, 2018, fine. However, if you have old labels, with the 1 mm inner border lines, as opposed to the 2 mm thick inner border lines, don’t discard them, they can still be used internationally - under ICAO & IMO. And I hear from the DOT hotline, in the next major Department of Transportation, International Harmonization Rulemaking, they will most likely authorize the use of both the new 2 mm or the old 1 mm inner border line on the hazard class labels.

If you don’t know the transitional history, the old 1 mm thick inner border lines labels were only allowed to be used until December 31, 2016, hence to align with international requirements but, the date was then moved up to December 31, 2018.

In the meantime, it might be a good time to get a copy of the new 2018/2019. Hazardous Materials Substances and Wastes Compliance Guide or better yet, sign up for my next Haz-mat seminar when I am in town, with my personal guarantee that the only line you will see is the one at the end of the day, when my attendees are trying to get out the door. 

Thank you,
Robert J Keegan 

Publisher and President