‘Check the Box’

PHMSA Launches Campaign to Help Curb Shipment of Undeclared Hazardous Materials

At this year’s Air Safety Forum, ALPA’s efforts to curtail the air transport of undeclared hazardous materials received a major boost. Howard “Skip” Elliott, the administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), unveiled a new public education campaign geared toward alerting industry and the public about the dangers involved with inappropriately shipping lithium batteries and other hazardous materials.

The new safety awareness initiative "Check the Box" aims to educate the industry and the public about potential shipping dangers, noting that “Certain items that are essential to our daily lives—such as batteries and common household items—may seem harmless, but they can be toxic, corrosive, and even explosive if handled inappropriately. That’s why it’s important to always Check the Box and make sure your package is safe to send.” The website includes checklists, FAQs, and resources to help determine if a package includes hazardous material.

“ALPA is grateful for the opportunity to partner on this important issue. PHMSA’s leadership and commitment to collaboration will help enhance aviation safety for passenger and cargo operations across the entire industry, said Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA’s president.

Department of Transportation statistics have shown that, each year, hundreds of hazmat incidents result from the shipment of undeclared hazardous materials. Shortly after Administrator Elliott took office, ALPA began working with the federal agency to address the risks posed by the air transport of undeclared hazardous materials. This new initiative is designed to advance education about the existing laws, as well as the importance of proper labeling and packaging. ALPA expects to see positive results from this and the Association’s other ongoing efforts to eliminate the risk of these potentially dangerous shipments.

‘Check the Box’ to Avoid Improperly Shipping Dangerous Goods

Shippers and their customers must declare that a package contains hazardous materials if any of these following items are included:

  • Explosives, including fireworks, pyrotechnics, flares, guns, and ammunition.
  • Gases, including fire extinguishers, lighters, compressed air, and hairspray.
  • Flammable liquids, including paint, gasoline, kerosene, nail polish, and perfume.
  • Flammable solids, including matches.
  • Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides, including fertilizer compounds and, ammonium nitrate fertilizers.
  • Toxic and infectious substances, including medical waste and chloroform.
  • Radioactive materials, including enhanced uranium.
  • Corrosives, including batteries, battery fluid, and paint.
  • Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles, including dry ice, lithium batteries, and magnets.

This article was originally published in the October 2018 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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