Handling hazardous waste comes with specialized training that is not always easy. With more than three billion tons of hazardous material being transported, almost 95% by trucks, it makes sense that drivers should be specially trained in the material that they carry. Shipping hazmat materials requires the driver to not only have extra training but also be more aware of their surrounding and the condition of their trucks. Between DOT hazmat training, DOT hazmat courses and DOT hazmat certification anyone could understand that the DOT is serious about those involved in shipping hazmat materials. Most materials are grouped into nine different classes, which can determine the amount of training and certifications needed, but it’s important to understand that anyone shipping hazmat materials does require some sore of special training. Read below to see the nine different classes and what makes each class different.

Class 1

Explosives are grouped into class 1. These substances have mass explosion hazard. This basically means they are capable of producing hazardous amounts of things including heat or smoke.

Class 2

Gases are grouped into class 2. Flammable and non-flammable gases are included in this group. Toxic and non-toxic gases are also included. These materials pose a danger because they can threaten those who breathe them in.

Class 3

Liquids that are flammable are grouped into class 3. This includes liquids that give off a vapor that is flammable. Any liquid that can be ignited or possibly produce flammable gasses is included in this class.

Class 4

Solids that hold a warning sign of flammable are included in this class. These are solids that are combustible and capable of causing a fire from friction. Solid substances that are capable of spontaneous combustion are included in this class.

Class 5

Substances that are considered oxidizing are grouped into this class. These substances are dangerous because they yield oxygen. This aids in the combustion of combustible materials, making them hazmat material.

Class 6

Substances that contain toxins that could potentially cause harm to human health are grouped into this class. Substances that can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled are considered toxic causing them to fall into this class. Substances that can cause injury or death is swallowed are grouped into this class as well.

Class 7

Radioactive material falls into this class. Substances that contain atoms that are capable of radioactive decay are contained. Not only is the radioactivity harmful but the radiation can be as well.

Class 8

Substances that are considered corrosive are included in this class. Those that can harm material and surfaces as well as skin are included. The reaction from these substances include burns and blindness explaining why they are considered hazmat material.

Class 9

The last class includes miscellaneous materials. These materials are considered hazardous for one reason or another, however they don’t quite fall into a definite other class. Substances and material that are transported at elevated temperatures are included in this class. Substances which affect and alter animals, but aren’t necessarily infectious also fall into this class.

Shipping hazmat materials not only means that you must undergo extensive training, but you must also know what you are shipping. Understanding what class if falls into helps you determine what to do in the event of an emergency. This information also helps emergency responders know how to best respond to an accident scene where someone shipping hazmat materials was involved.