Notice of PROPOSED Rulemaking: 49 CFR Docket HM-215O

By December 4, 2018 September 12th, 2019 Uncategorized, Regulations, 49 CFR, Regulation Updates


The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is at it again. Published on November 27, 2018 is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that many in the industry want to happen sooner rather than later. It is Docket number HM-215O. This amendment is a giant step towards better alignment of the Hazardous Materials Regulation (HMR), or 49 CFR, with the changes coming in 2019 for several international transport regulations.

Remember, this NPRM is just one step in the process for updating Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. We still have to get through the comment period on this particular docket. Starting today, the comment period is open until January 28, 2019. After that window closes, each comment is reviewed and changes could be made to the amendment. The docket is then published as a Final Rule with a 30- to 60-day phase in period. If you feel strongly about a proposed change, speak now or forever hold your peace.

While what is listed below this is not a comprehensive listing of everything in the PROPOSED amendment, an attempt was made to focus on what could impact a majority of transport professionals. For access to the entirety of NPRM, go to and view the PDF.

Here are some of the PROPOSED changes in HM-215O:

  • Section 171.7 – This section will now include reference to the 20th Revised Edition of the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, the 6th Revised Edition of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, the 2019-2020 edition of ICAO, and the 39-18 edition of IMDG, and the recently revised Canadian TDG. 
  • Section 172.101 Paragraph (e) – Those identification numbers known as “North American” or “NA” numbers will now ONLY be used in the US. This is to prevent issues with materials classified differently in the countries of Canada, and the US. 
  •  Hazardous Materials Table – The table could have multiple revisions including:
    • New Entries
      • UN3537 to UN3548 for Articles containing dangerous goods
      • UN3535 for Toxic, solid, flammable, inorganic, n.o.s. in Packing Groups I and II
      • UN3536 for Lithium batteries installed in cargo transport unit
    • Revised Entries
      • UN3302 for 2-Dimethylaminoetheyl acrylate will now have “stabilized” added to the end of the proper shipping name in column 2
      • UN3316 Chemical Kit and First Aid Kit will no longer have packing groups
      • Various changes to assigned special provisions in column 7 for multiple entries. See Table 2 in the NPRM
      • Column 10 for Vessel Stowage will have multiple changes for a large number of Class 1 materials. There will also be an alignment with IMDG for segregation and stowage codes for multiple entries. See Table 3 in the NPRM
  • 172.102 Special Provisions – The special provisions with projected changes are 132, 150, 238, 369, 422, A56, A105 and TP10. Special Provisions 383, W32 will be removed completely from the HMR or just from certain entries within the table. There will be multiple new special provisions as well. 
  • Section 172.203 Paragraph (o) – For certain materials, the words “Temperature Controlled” be added to shipping papers. Take note that Polymerizing substances will likely be added to this section.
  • 172.407 Paragraph (c) – The proposal is to remove the 2 mm width requirement for the inner border of labels. Also, there will be a change to the 5 mm distance. That requirement will now have the word “approximately” in it.
  • 172.514 – For “flexible bulk containers” the NPRM will allow placards to be on two opposing sides since the shape of these containers makes the requirement of placarding each side and end difficult.
  • Section 173.2a – Those new “article” entries in the HMT will be a part of the precedence table. There will also be guidance for “articles” that have more than 1 hazard class.
  • 173.6 Materials of Trade – If adopted as written, the proposal will have multiple clarifications. There will be a new paragraph and revisions to existing ones.
  • 173.136 Paragraph (a) – The definition of a corrosive material will change from “full thickness destruction” to that of “irreversible damage”.
  • 173.137 – A new paragraph is proposed to include a new way to assign packing groups for mixtures that does not involve testing. This will be similar to the Globally Harmonized System or GHS; however, not all of the methods in the GHS will be included. The proposal would also include for this section a flow chart in an Appendix to aid classifiers. Several of the OECD Guidelines will be updated.
  • 173.185 – There are a large number of proposed changes to lithium batteries. They range from clarification of “cell” to test summary reports being made available. Several revisions in regards to packaging batteries including the prevention of batteries being packed with certain explosives and flammables. Paragraph (c), which focuses on the “excepted” batteries would also have multiple changes. Those batteries going for disposal, recycling or those that are defective will have their paragraphs amended as well. 
  • 173.220 – Engines will get a new paragraph that will clarify some information in regards to vehicles with liquid fuel tanks. A clarification will also occur in paragraph (d) for vehicles powered by lithium batteries.
  • 173.225 Paragraph (c) – Organic Peroxides Table will have several new entries.
  • 173.232 – This is an entirely new section for articles not specified by name in the regulation that contain various hazard classes and divisions. 

The NPRM goes on to include proposed changes to Part 174 for Rail, 175 for Air, and 176 for Vessel. Specifications for packagings (Part 178) and the Qualification and Maintenance of them in Part 180 didn’t escape proposed revisions either.

At close to 100 pages in length, it will take time for all of us to fully grasp what COULD be changing. The best advice at this point is to “search” the document for sections you normally consult for shipping. Doing so will let you see if there any predicted changes for your particular shipments and allow you to start planning.

You can trust that ICC will let you know when the final rule is published.  

Paula Reavis

Paula Reavis

Degrees: BS in Science Education, BA in Chemistry, MA in School Counseling Certification: National Certified Counselor Paula Reavis comes to us with a teaching background and several years of experience in Hazard Communications. She is knowledgeable in HazCom2012, WHMIS (old/new), 49 CFR, IATA, IMDG and TDG. She started with the company in 2014, and is currently the Trainer for the US. She is active in several associations including NACD, IHMM and SCHC where she served as chair of the Membership and Awards Committee. She is based in St. Louis, Missouri.