Hazardous Matt Hits the Big Time

Everyone’s favorite little blue guy with the orange Mohawk, Hazardous Matt, has finally hit the big time, appearing on the Late Late Show with James Corden, along with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

Wait, hazardous who?

Hazardous Matt has been around for a few years, but this was his first walk on the red carpet of a major television show. Created in 2018, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) introduced him as “our friend Hazardous Matt: He’s made of hazardous materials (hazmat), which means that we have to take extra care when we send him somewhere.” He was created to remind the public that many consumer products can be dangerous, and to be the face of the “Check the BoxOutreach campaign. But despite having his own Youtube video and being made into an adorable anti-stress toy, let’s face it – Matt has never reached the heights of other public safety mascots like Smokey the Bear.

Maybe that will change now that Secretary Buttigieg has introduced Hazardous Matt to millions of late-night views on the Late Late Show as recapped in this Tweet. Matt posed handsomely – if silently – while the Secretary told of encountering Matt during his first days at the agency and how Matt now sits in a place of honor on his desk.

Of course, some spoilsports might find this sort of outreach a little too lighthearted for a serious topic such as hazardous materials transport. But outreach is an important function of the DOT. A lot of the general public is unaware of how household products, as well as industrial ones, can be dangerous in transport. DOT estimates approximately 1500 transportation incidents a year are due to undeclared hazardous materials, and that in many cases these products have been shipped by people with no idea there were actually rules about how to do so safely. The Check the Box website may start with goofy little Matt, but quickly gets into valuable information for the uninitiated, such as a summary of what products might be hazardous materials, how to get started, and a list of resources.

In any case, Matt has nothing compared to the outreach advertisements from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which endeavors to spread the word about product safety with a series of surrealistically inspired (or inspiredly surrealistic) posters of flying smoke detectors, an eagle fighting a shark labeled “Unsafe Products” and an ATV rider suddenly facing a T. rex.

Are you a newcomer to transporting hazardous materials? If so, listen to Hazardous Matt, and learn how to do it safely. Our regulatory staff here at ICC can help you! Just call 888-442-9628 (U.S.) or 888-977-4834 (Canada), and ask for one of our Regulatory Experts. We can provide basic and more specialized training online, as well as a “one-stop-shop” of all your hazmat shipping supplies.

PHMSA’s twitter account, @PHMSA_DOT
US Department of Transportation “Check the Box”

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Barbara Foster

Barbara Foster

Barbara Foster graduated from Dalhousie University with a Master’s degree in Chemistry and a Bachelor’s degree in Education. As one of ICC Compliance Center’s most senior employees, she has worked in the Toronto office for the past three decades as a Regulatory Affairs Specialist and Trainer. She is fluent in various US, Canadian, and international regulations involving transportation, including TDG, 49 CFR, ICAO, IMDG, and the ADR/RID. She also specializes in the hazard communication standards of OSHA, WHMIS, CCCR, and the Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labelling (GHS). Barbara is the author of ICC’s TDG Clear Language Driver and Handler’s Guide. Currently, she is a participant on the Canadian General Standards Board committee where she creates training standards for transportation of dangerous goods in Canada and is a past Chair of the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council.