1-800-441-8780

1-773-735-0700

Industrial Packaging for Critical Contents

Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

Posts Tagged ‘us dot’

The History of Hazmat and Dangerous Goods Packaging

May 3rd, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat

If you work in the packaging and transportation industries, there’s a good chance that you come across dangerous goods regularly. If you do, then you also come across the term ‘hazmat’. Now, it’s not hard to understand that the two are connected, but what are those connections exactly? What does hazmat have to do with dangerous goods packaging, and just who establishes the rules behind it all?

First, a quick definition. In the United States, the official term for dangerous goods is hazardous materials, which leads to the portmanteau hazmat. Pretty logical, but also easy to take for granted if it’s just another term in the day-to-day sea of acronyms and abbreviations.

Dangerous goods, and in turn hazmat, is a broad umbrella term that encompasses materials that are radioactive, flammable, explosive, corrosive, oxidizing, asphyxiating, biohazardous, toxic, pathogenic, or allergenic. Also included are physical conditions such as compressed gases and liquids or hot materials, and all goods containing such materials or chemicals, or that may have other characteristics that render them hazardous in specific circumstances.

Oversimplified: anything that can hurt a human.

 

Hazmat Regulation in The United States

With such an intimidating list of dangers under its purview, you would think that protection from dangerous goods has been a high priority for our government as long as possible. But, the DOT, EPA and OSHA, three of the most crucial agencies for regulating the safe handling of hazardous materials in the U.S. weren’t even formed until the late 1960s and 1970s.

Then, it was only in 2004 that the Department of Transportation created the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which is the agency directly in charge of developing and enforcing regulations in relation to hazmat transportation. Previously, PHMSA’s hazmat and pipeline safety programs were housed within the Transportation Department’s Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA).

Hazmat Regulation Abroad

Regulators at the global level were a little faster to act. The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)’s publication of the first version of The UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods occurred in 1956. While it isn’t obligatory or legally binding on individual countries, this is the guiding document when it comes the establishing procedures regarding hazmat shipping. For example, all Skolnik barrels that bear a UN certification have been produced to the standards established by the most current version of these recommendations.   

The other crucial contribution to hazmat handling that the UN provides is the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, developed in 1992. This is the set of rules that standardized the labeling of hazmat across borders, and is why we use the color coded diamond-shaped pictograms to designate which hazards are in what package.

Further Hazmat Regulatory Bodies

Along with these major organizations, there are plenty of smaller, more specific groups that have their eyes set on specific topics, such as the International Air Transport Association, the International Maritime Organization and the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail. These are just some of the groups who, as each name suggests, focus on their individual priorities and establish rules and regulations that are adopted, inspire and influence how we handle hazmat here in the states and abroad.


Whether you interact with dangerous goods daily or once in a blue moon, it’s important to not only be able to handle the immediate task of safely storing and transporting these goods, but to know where they fit in larger scheme. If you don’t know why you’re labeling a barrel as hazardous, then it’s easy to make a mistake, and there is little room for error when dealing with hazmat storage and transportation. Luckily, there are plenty of resources for any question you may have regarding hazmat and dangerous goods packaging. All of these organizations have multiple resources you can explore, and if it’s barrel-related, chances are we here at Skolnik can help out too.

Open Head vs. Tight Head Steel Drums At A Glance

July 20th, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

There are numerous different configurations of an industrial container. When determining which container is appropriate for a specific use, businesses consider the container’s material, gauge or thickness of the material, size, shape, linings, closures, head style, and many more factors. Some of these factors come with a multitude of options, for head style, it is just a choice between two: open head or tight head.

So what is the difference between an open and tight head drum?

An open head container, also called 1A2 drums, has a fully removable cover secured with a Lever lock or bolt ring closure. Tight head drums, also known as closed head or 1A1 drums, have a non-removable top. One can only access the container via a 2” and ¾” plug in the top of the container.

On a tight head drum, the head is an integral part of the drum construction — both ends are flanged and permanently sealed. Because of the limited access to the contents, tight head drums are often used for liquids, especially lower viscosity liquids. For example, Skolnik’s stainless steel wine drums are tight head containers.

Open head drums, on the other hand, are used for a wide array of contents. Skolnik’s lever lock closure drums are UN rated for solids and liquids, particularly thicker liquids such as soil absorbents, syrups, glues, oils, etc. Open head drums are typically used in situations where people need access to the contents, either for frequent addition or extraction.

Skolnik Industries manufactures both open head and tight head steel drums in over 500 configurations, always to UN and DOT certification standards. If you are unsure what style head or closure your contents require, don’t hesitate to ask a Skolnik representative.

Safe Lithium Battery Containment

June 23rd, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, Industry News

Lithium-ion batteries are the most commonly used batteries in consumer electronics and medical devices today, and they have been exploding. For all of the benefits and conveniences, lithium batteries have offered consumers — higher power density, lower memory effect, long life — they have a number of downsides and risks. Their sensitivity can lead to an explosion and, for this reason, they are considered “dangerous goods” and are banned from commercial aircraft.

The result is a kink in the supply line and, for those who rely on medical devices powered by lithium batteries, more than a mild inconvenience. At present, these batteries are only permitted on cargo aircraft and cargo planes only fly to large airports. As a result, the batteries cannot get to their final destinations.

The world isn’t going to suddenly stop needing lithium ion batteries anytime soon, so this is a puzzle that needs a solution. But, you know what they say: Necessity is the mother of invention. Skolnik Industries and Labelmaster have been working together to devise a package that can safely contain spent lithium ion batteries for bulk transport. This overpack package would serve as a multi-pack solution for the batteries as well as a secondary spill containment measure should the batteries be compromised in transit.

While it is always a pleasure to work with our friends at Labelmaster, we’re eager to find a safe and strong solution to this problem. The project cannot be completed until the DOT releases its final testing requirements for these package types, and, as with all Skolnik Industries products, this lithium battery-safe overpack container would be rigorously tested to meet all pertinent DOT regulations.

Once the regulations are set, we look forward to providing shippers and manufacturers with a safe, efficient solution to lithium battery containment, and helping alleviate the delay for those who need battery replacements for their medical devices.

Unpacking UN Ratings: The 1A2 Drum

September 22nd, 2016 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat

The shipping and transportation of dangerous goods or hazardous materials is a tightly regulated process — and rightly so! You wouldn’t want to be on an aircraft or train or sharing the roads with just any old material packaged any old way. These materials require a special container that meets criteria set by the DOT and the UN. And, it is the responsibility of the shipper to choose the correct packaging for their materials.

At Skolnik Industries, we’re always happy to help our customers select the best container for their needs. To start, let’s take a look at UN ratings and what they mean.

Many of our products UN rating begins with a 1A, we’ll talk about why that is in a moment, but for the sake of this exploration let’s say that you worked with the team at Skolnik and we discerned that you need a container with a 1A2/X60/S UN rating for your hazardous materials.

First, you’re in luck, Skolnik has several hazardous waste containers that fit that specification.

But what do those numbers mean?

 

Well, the 1 refers to the fact that it is a drum, not a wooden barrel, box, bag or some other type of container.

Here are the UN codes for other containers:

1 – drum

2 – wooden barrel

3 – jerrican

4 – box

5 – bag

6 – composite receptacle

7 – pressure receptacle

 

The following letter tells us the material of the container, in this case an A for steel.

Other material codes:

A – steel

B – aluminum

C – natural wood

D – plywood

E – reconstituted wood

G – fiberboard

H – plastic

L – textile

M – paper, multiwall

N – metal other than steel or aluminum

P – glass, porcelain or stoneware

 

So far we’ve determined that we need a steel drum, our specialty! But what about the second number? This number refers to the drum head. The 2 means that it is an open head drum. (A closed-head drum would be marked with a 1).

We’ve cracked the first part of the code: we need a 1A2 container, or a steel, open head drum!

If you want to dig deeper, our example UN rating was 1A2/X60/S – so what are the other parts?

 

The X designation tells us what level of hazardous materials your packaging can be used for. The rating is either an X, Y or Z. Packing group I is the most hazardous and packing group III is the least.

X – covers hazardous packing group I, II or III

Y – covers packing groups II and III only

Z – covers packing group III only

What a versatile drum we’ve chosen!

 

That next number refers to the maximum gross mass the container has been tested to handle, in our example 60kg. The final S indicates that this is the UN rating for solids for this container (Liquids ratings differ in that they communicate the maximum specific gravity of liquid that the container has been tested to hold instead of mass, liquid ratings also indicate the maximum hydrostatic pressure the container can hold).
So there you have it, when we say you need a 1A2 drum, that means it is a steel, open head drum – the remaining code elements tell you what your container is safe to carry.