Accepting Packages of Hazardous Materials

UWM is committed to protecting faculty, staff, students and visitors, as well as the general public and environment from the harmful effects of exposure to hazardous materials and dangerous goods. This can be assured if hazardous material shipments are safely shipped, received and handled so that spills, accidents and exposures are prevented.

Individuals working at UWM who receive and/or handle hazardous materials shipments are required to be trained in the recognition of hazardous materials and the precautions that should be taken when handling them. This training is available in an on-line format. After review of the training material, please complete the certification exam. Records of employee training will be maintained by the Department of University Safety and Assurances. For additional information on Department of Transportation training consult the UWM Hazardous Materials Transportation Program web site.

To ensure safe handling, everyone needs to be able to recognize hazardous material because spills happen, and people need to be prepared to respond to them properly. We want to ensure that hazardous material are handled safely.

What Is a Hazardous Material?
Hazardous Material is legally defined by class, characteristic and name. The following are some of the materials you may encounter that are considered hazardous:

  • Most Laboratory Chemicals
  • Solvents
  • Alcohol
  • Acids
  • Compressed Gases and Lecture Bottles
  • Dry Ice
  • Certain Cleaners
  • Certain Pesticides
  • Certain Paints
  • Chemical Samples
  • Biological Samples
  • Infectious Substances
  • Radioactive Materials

There are nine categories of hazards used to classify hazardous materials/dangerous goods in transportation. Listed below are common examples of materials that might be received or shipped at UWM and the hazard class that they are assigned to.

Hazardous Materials Classifications

DOT Hazard ClassName of Class or DivisionExamples of Materials Received
Class 1ExplosivesAzides, Picrates
Class 2.1Flammable GasAcetylene, Butane, Ethylene
Class 2.2 Non-flammable Gas Argon, Nitrogen, Oxygen
Class 3 Flammable Liquid Mineral Spirits, Acetone, Acrylonitrile, Hexane, Proponol, Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK)
Class 4.1 Flammable Solid Paraformaldehyde, Naphthalene
Class 4.2 Dangerous When Wet Sodium metal, Sodium hydride, Sodium ethoxides, Sodium borohydride, Barium, Chlorotrimethylsilane
Class 5.1 Oxidizer Ammonium peroxydisulfate, Chromium nitrate, Potassium permaganate, Sodium nitrate
Class 5.2 Organic Peroxide Methyl ethyl ketone peroxide, Benzoyl peroxide
Class 6.1 Toxic Substances Phenol, Mercuric Compounds, Potassium Cyanide, Sodium Cyanide
Class 6.2 Infectious Substances Hepatitis B virus cultures, HIV cultures, Variola virus
Class 7 Radioactive Materials 32P-dCTP, 14C-Bicarbonate, 35S-Methionine
Class 8 Corrosive Acetic Acid, Sulfuric Acid, Nitric Acid, Formic Acid
Class 9 Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods Dry Ice, Polymeric beads, Some Batteries, PCB's

Recognizing Hazardous Materials

It is important to be able to recognize shipments of hazardous materials. To find out Shippingif a shipment includes hazardous materials, look at the shipping paper. Does it have:

  • An entry with a proper shipping name, hazard class, and identification number?
  • A highlighted entry, or one with an X or RQ (Reportable Quantity) in the hazardous materials column?

Hazardous material must be noted on the shipping paper or bill of lading with highlighting, by being listed first or by being marked with an “X” in the “HM” column.

Not all hazardous material is shipped this way. The regulations exempt small amounts, exempt containers or certain products.

NOTE: A hazardous material and a non-hazardous material may be placed on the same shipping paper; however, the hazardous material entries must be entered first, or entered in a color that clearly contrasts with any description of a material not subject to the regulations.

Other indications include:

  • The shipment may arrive in a vehicle bearing a Department of Transportation (DOT) placard on its side. A placard is a 11-by-11 inch diamond-shaped sign placed on the four sides of a vehicle that carries hazardous material. A placard is only required for large quantities, so not all vehicles carrying hazardous material will be placarded.
  • The container is in a DOT-approved package. DOT specifies performance standards for cardboard boxes, metal cans and other containers. DOT-approved packages usually have a “DOT” or “UN” notation marked on its exterior.
  • The package bears a hazardous material label. A label is a 4-by-4 inch diamond-shaped sticker placed on the package. There are over 35 different labels used to ship hazardous material. The package might not be labeled if it is marked “Limited Quantity” or “DOT-E” followed by a number.
  • Adjacent to the label, the package is marked according to DOT specifications. This marking is specified in DOT regulations, and includes the material’s shipping name and UN number, and sometimes notations to specify certain hazards or package handling considerations. “DRY ICE (1.8 KG) UN 1845” and “ACETONE UN 1090“ are examples of DOT markings.

Receiving Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials received at UWM via domestic carrier are regulated during transport by the US Department of Transportation. All packages containing more than exempt quantities of hazardous materials will display a diamond shaped DOT label(s) that fall into one or more of 9 hazard classes.

When receiving and signing for hazardous materials these general rules of thumb can be followed:

  • All packages received displaying a Hazard Class 2-6 and 8-9 can be campus delivered as any other package unless it is damaged or leaking.
  • Packages displaying a “Radioactive” label (Hazard Class 7) should not be accepted by individual departments. These types of packages should go directly to University Safety & Assurances, Radiation Safety Program.
  • If packages displaying a “radioactive” label are accidentally accepted, call the campus Radiation Safety Program at 229-4275.
  • If packages are damaged or leaking at the time of delivery, do not accept from carrier. Contact the Department of University Safety and Assurances (US & A) at x6339 for additional assistance if needed.
  • If a package becomes damaged or leaks after the carrier has delivered it, call US & A. Do not handle, cordon off the area and notify other personnel working in the area. Refer to guidelines on Chemical Spills.

Accepting and Unpacking Hazardous Materials

Examine exterior of all packages before accepting them. If any problems are observable, DO NOT ACCEPT the shipment. Damaged, wet or leaking packages are the responsibility of the transporter.

  • Look at the shipping papers to ensure that the papers are in order and for any special handling instruction. Notify the shipper if the package or shipping paper does not match its contents.
  • Inspect packages for any type of damage or discoloration.
  • Check the package for special handling requirements (such as Personal Protective Equipment).
  • DO NOT TOUCH a container that is open, leaking, weeping, broken or if the hazardous material is not otherwise contained.
  • DO NOT expose yourself to hazardous materials unless you are trained to use them.
  • Handle packages carefully to prevent accidents.
  • Store package in an upright position, out of pedestrian traffic, until it is delivered or picked up by the appropriate recipient.
  • Don’t stack boxes of hazardous materials. This will prevent the possibility of accidental tipping.
  • Carry packages securely.
  • Don’t use mechanical lifts or carts unless you have been trained.
  • Open the correct end of the package.

Emergency Response on Campus

Call UWM Police at 9-911 for:

Be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Your Name
  • Building and room number
  • Address
  • Type of emergency (i.e., Fire, Spill, Explosion)
  • Any injuries
  • DO NOT HANG UP until you are released by the dispatcher!

For more information call:

University Safety & Assurances at x6339 for chemicals and chemical products. The Department of University Safety & Assurances can provide:

  • Spill preparedness consultation
  • Spill cleanup training
  • Assistance in locating a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)
  • Evaluation of a situation to determine how to clean up the spill

Radiation Safety at x4275 for radioactive materials, or for radioactive material related training

Biological Safety at x4275 for training in shipping/receiving infectious substances, biological products and diagnostic specimens