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Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Endorsement

Last Updated: Mar 21, 2017

What New Truck Drivers Need To Know About Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) CDL Endorsement:

A hazardous material, as defined, is any substance or material that could adversely affect the safety of the public, handlers or carriers during transportation.

The Department Of Transportation (DOT) has classified certain materials as hazardous, and truck drivers are required to obtain a specific HAZMAT endorsement in order to transport them.

Part of the process for obtaining a Hazmat endorsement is passing a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) background check.

A criminal record could keep a driver from clearing the background check and getting a Hazmat endorsement.

Hazmat endorsements will need to be renewed at least every 5 years.

HAZMAT Endorsement For CDL Drivers:

In order to transport hazardous materials, drivers must hold a valid CDL for the state in which they are applying, and pass a Hazardous Materials Endorsement Knowledge Test. Requirements vary by state.

See Also: Hazardous Materials Endorsement Training

The TSA (Transportation Security Administration), in accordance with the USA Patriot Act, has added another level to the process, called the TSA Hazardous Materials Endorsement Threat Assessment Program, which will include submitting fingerprints and passing a background check. As always, it is important for new/potential drivers to be up-front about any items that may raise red flags on background checks.

Hazmat background checks will examine a drivers criminal record, as well as check for any outstanding wants and warrants, and terrorist watch lists.

Hazmat background checks could take up to 30 days to complete. See Also: TSA Hazardous Materials Endorsement Threat Assessment Program for Hazmat endorsement eligibility guidelines.

The TSA lists various factors that could disqualify a driver from passing a background check.

See Also: TSA Background Check

Hazmat Endorsement Renewal:

Hazardous Material Endorsements (HME) will need to be renewed through the TSA at least every five (5) years, unless a shorter time frame is specified by a driver's particular state.

When renewing a Hazmat endorsement, CDL driver's will be required to submit to a new threat assessment, including fingerprinting and background check. Drivers will need to check with their individual states regarding length of Hazmat endorsement.

DOT Classifications of Hazardous Materials:

Hazard Class 1: Explosives
  • 1.1 mass explosion hazard
  • 1.2 projectile hazard
  • 1.3 minor blast/projectile/fire
  • 1.4 minor blast
  • 1.5 insensitive explosives
  • 1.6 very insensitive explosives

Hazard Class 2: Compressed Gases
  • 2.1 flammable gases
  • 2.2 non flammable compressed
  • 2.3 poisonous

Hazard Class 3: Flammable Liquids
  • Flammable (flash point below 141°)
  • Combustible (flash point 141°-200°

Hazard Class 4: Flammable Solids
  • 4.1 flammable solids
  • 4.2 spontaneously combustible
  • 4.3 dangerous when wet

Hazard Class 5: Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides
  • 5.1 Oxidizer
  • 5.2 Organic Peroxide

Hazard Class 6: Toxic Materials
  • 6.1 Material that is poisonous
  • 6.2 Infectious Agents

Hazard Class 7: Radioactive Material
  • Radioactive I
  • Radioactive II
  • Radioactive III

Hazard Class 8: Corrosive Material
  • Destruction of the human skin
  • Corrode steel at a rate of 0.25 inches per year

Hazard Class 9: Miscellaneous

A material that presents a hazard during shipment but does not meet the definition of the other classes. For example:

  • Magnetized material
  • Elevated temperature goods
  • Dry ice
  • Asbestos
  • Environmentally hazardous substances
  • Life-saving appliances
  • Engines, internal combustion
  • Polymeric beads
  • Battery-powered equipment or vehicle
  • Zinc Dithonite

Any driver looking for some really heavy further reading can read through the ENTIRE HAZMAT materials table. Enjoy!


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations


Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.


Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.


Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.


Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

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