While steel drums may look alike, once they are United Nations certified for hazardous materials, they are as unique as the manufacturer. The entire design of a UN drum, and all its components (metal thickness of the body and heads, ring type, gasket, bolt, nut, plugs), is set and defined when being subjected to the Performance Oriented Packaging Standards per CFR 178.600, the US Code of Federal Regulations. The specific components used to perform the test comprise a drum type, or certification, that must meet a designated test standard for classified HazMat products. Once in the field, shippers cannot alter or interchange any of these components, even though they may appear similar, changing these features will impact the ability of the drum to perform as certified. This also applies to the required Closure Instructions per CFR 178.2(c), which are required to be given to the shipper by the specific packaging manufacturer. If replacement parts are needed, fillers must make sure that they get the originally tested components from the manufacturer. Once a drum enters transportation, compliance with the UN Certification is the responsibility of the shipper. Failure to comply with the UN certification may result in a fine from the DOT.
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A compliant shipment of dangerous goods has never been more critical, more complex and more expensive if done improperly. In addition to lives at risk, planes, ships, trains, trucks and all public right-of-way can be severely impacted when an incident does occur. In order to educate shippers on how to identify, pack and ship hazardous materials, many agencies and industry partners are developing resources to provide the latest in safety regulation as well as videos and tools on how to transport products safely. The Council on Safe Transport of Hazardous Articles (COSTHA), has gathered this information and created a web page that is an outstanding resource for learning about compliant shipping of dangerous goods / hazardous materials. Check out the webpage and learn how you can help to ensure that regulated shipments in commerce are properly prepared.