Are there any legal or regulatory requirements related to transportation labeling?

In order to provide important information about the contents of packages throughout the supply chain, the transportation industry is subject to an array of legal requirements which govern the safe handling and delivery of goods. A business must comply with the regulations to not only avoid the consequences of non-compliance, but to keep workers safe when handling shipments.

Failure to comply with regulatory labeling requirements has the potential to result in shipment delays, fines, and even the suspension of transportation operations. Businesses who are transporting goods must be aware of the regulations and adhere to the relevant standards. From labeling the packages accurately and including necessary tracking identifiers to adding hazard warnings and handling information, creating the correct transportation labeling is a necessity to avoid jeopardizing public safety, creating dangers to workers, and risking environmental hazards.

One of the primary regulators in the transportation industry is the Department of Transportation (DOT) who enforce the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) which  applies to the transit of hazardous materials such as chemicals, gasses, and flammable substances. Under the HMR, any packages containing hazardous materials must be properly classified and labeled to provide information about the contents, handling instructions, and emergency response procedures. The thorough labeling requirements are in place to communicate the potential risks to all handlers who come into contact with the package so must be immediately visible in order to ensure easy identification and correct sorting.

The legal requirements surrounding transportation labeling differs depending on the contents of a package and thus different regulatory bodies may be involved. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) governs the labeling of hazardous chemicals in the workplace, aligning with the international Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). These bodies ensure that manufacturers, importers, and distributors are following a standardized process when handling hazardous chemicals.

For businesses who are transporting foods and medicine, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforces regulations which require the accurate labeling of goods to include an ingredient list, dosage instructions, and appropriate warnings to protect public health. The transportation labels must disclose the contents of a package and provide handling details and any risk that could be posed, ensuring the correct sorting and shipping can be carried out.


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