Looking for some relief from the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) hazardous materials regulations (HMRs)? We’ll take a look at the materials of trade (MOT) exception and some recent guidance clarifying when it can be used.
The MOT exception allows the use of some containers that do not meet United Nations specifications, and it waives requirements for formal training, emergency response information, shipping papers, and placarding. However, the exception’s requirements include strict quantity limits and hazard communication on the packaging.
Under 49 CFR 173.6, an MOT is a hazardous material, other than hazardous waste, that is carried on a motor vehicle to:
- Protect the health and safety of the motor vehicle operator or passengers (e.g., insect repellant, fire extinguishers);
- Support the operation or maintenance of a motor vehicle (including its auxiliary equipment) (e.g., engine starting fluid, gasoline, spare battery), or
- In the cases of private motor carriers, to directly support a principal business that is other than transportation by motor vehicle (e.g., pest control, plumbing, painting, laboratory research).
The MOT exception does not apply to:
- Explosives (Class 1 hazardous materials);
- Gases that are poisonous by inhalation (Division 2.3 hazardous materials);
- Spontaneously combustible, i.e., self-reactive materials, (Division 4.2 hazardous materials);
- Certain infectious substances (Division 6.2 Category A hazardous materials. i.e., an infectious substance in a form capable of causing permanent disability or life-threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals); and
- Radioactive materials (Class 7 hazardous materials).
There are quantity limitations and packaging requirements for the materials for which the MOT exception is allowed.
Small Samples Scenarios
The MOT exception can be confusing, and people regularly have questions about certain scenarios. DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has some recent guidance concerning questions regarding transporting small samples under the MOT exception. Let’s take a look.
A company transports small quantities of samples for analysis to the sample collector’s laboratory while using a company owned/leased vehicle. The company’s principle business is the collection and analysis of samples for testing.
According to PHMSA, this transportation meets the MOT exception because the principal business of the company is the collection and analysis of samples for testing purposes. In addition, in this scenario, the company collects the samples and has their employees transport those samples to either their own facility or a third-party facility for testing while using a company owned/leased vehicle.
A company transports small quantities of samples for analysis to a client’s laboratory or another company’s laboratory. The principal business of the company is the collection and analysis of samples for testing.
According to PHMSA, even though the principal business of the company is the collection and analysis of samples for testing purposes, in this scenario, the company collects the samples but hires a carrier to transport those samples to either the company’s own facility or a third-party facility for testing. Therefore, the company would not be able to use the MOT exception because hiring a third-party carrier is not considered a private motor carrier.
A home medical equipment supplier delivers the medical oxygen in cylinders weighing less than 220 pounds (lb) each and transports no more than 440 lb of hazardous materials on each motor vehicle.
According to PHMSA, this company is eligible for MOT exceptions under the HMR when transporting and delivering medical oxygen cylinders to customer residences. In this scenario, the company is a private motor carrier transporting hazardous materials in direct support of a principal business that is other than transportation by motor vehicle. PHMSA elaborates that a private motor carrier is a carrier that transports the business’s own products and does not provide such transportation service to other businesses.
In addition, in this scenario, the individual cylinders meet the gross weight threshold for Division 2.2 materials in a cylinder and the entire shipment meets the aggregate gross weight threshold for all hazardous materials on one motor vehicle.
If you can meet the MOT exception criteria, make sure that you abide by the quantity and packaging requirements for these materials. Check tomorrow’s Advisor for a rundown of these important MOT requirements.