What Is Hazardous Material?

What Is Hazardous Material?

December 5, 2022

Identifying hazardous materials is essential to the safety of many types of industries. Understanding how to define hazardous material and how to handle it properly is also important, so you can stay compliant with the safety regulations on job sites.

This quick guide will provide you with the information you need about hazardous materials. Keep reading to learn more.

Hazardous Material Definition Challenges

One of the challenges when it comes to these types of materials is classifying the material by a singular definition. Today, there is actually not one consistent definition of hazardous material. There is also currently no clear way to classify these materials. In fact, there are actually several classification systems.

When you are evaluating a material, you need to know which classification system you are dealing with.

Working Definitions of Hazardous Materials

To be on the safe side, it is best to assume that a material is hazardous until it has been proven not to be.

Let’s look at a few important steps in this process of determining if a material is hazardous or not.

Use: The first thing is to identify how the material will be used or what you will be doing with it. For instance, if your only responsibility is to transport the material, you will want to consult the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) definition of hazardous material and follow those guidelines. If you are responsible for storing the material, then you would need to consult with local building codes to determine how to handle the material.

DOT: Defines hazardous material as a substance or material that the Secretary of Transportation has determined is capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce.

The DOT uses a 9 point classification system:

  • Class 1: Materials with explosive qualities, like explosives
  • Class 2: Gas materials
  • Class 3: Flammable and combustible liquids
  • Class 4: Flammable solids and materials that are spontaneously combustible and dangerous when wet
  • Class 5: Oxidizers and organic peroxides
  • Class 6: Poisons that are toxic and inhalation hazards
  • Class 7: Materials that are radioactive
  • Class 8: Materials that are corrosive
  • Class 9: Other unsafe materials that are classified as miscellaneous

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Codes: A chemical or substance that is classified as a physical hazard material or a health hazard material, whether the chemical or substance is in usable or waste condition.

Specifics of Hazardous Material

More specifically, hazardous materials could be determined to be any corrosive solids, liquids, gases, or flammable solids that fit any of the definitions above.

When in doubt, it is critical to check the protocol of the institution that would most likely apply to your use and handling of the material.

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