USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Interpretation Response #01-0290 ([URS Corporation] [Mr. Andrew Romach])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: URS Corporation

Individual Name: Mr. Andrew Romach

Location State: NC Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

May 6, 2002


Mr. Andrew Romach                     Reference No. 01-0290
URS Corporation
P.O. Box 13000
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

Dear Mr. Romach,

This is in response to your letter  requesting clarification of the requirements under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-18-0)regarding the materials of trade exceptions in § 173. 6 and whether: a shipping paper. (bill  of lading) must be prepared for over-the-counter sales .of hazardous materials. We have framed our response in the following series of questions and answers.

Q1.      Do the materials of trade exceptions apply to over-the- counter sales of hazardous materials?

Al. Yes.  If all the requirements in § 173.6 are met, other requirements in the HMR (including shipping papers) do not apply.

Q2.      For purposes of the materials of trade exceptions, who is responsible to inform the operator of a motor vehicle of the requirements in § 173.6. and that the motor vehicle contains hazardous materials, including any reportable quantities?

A2.      The employer of the motor vehicle operator is responsible for providing this information to the operator.  However, in practice, it may also be necessary for an over-the-counter sales employee to be able to distinguish between those types and quantities of hazardous materials that qualify for the materials of trade exceptions, and those that do not, in order to determine whether the materials of trade exceptions apply.

Q3.      If the requirements of the materials of trade exceptions are not met (for example, the total quantity exceeds 440 pounds gross weight or an individual package is larger than allowed), do the HMR apply to over-the-counter sales of hazardous materials?

A3.      Yes. The seller of hazardous materials over-the-counter is an “offeror” who is responsible for assuring that the materials are packaged, marked, labeled, and described on a shipping paper as required by the HMR whenever the over-the-counter sales employee knows (or has reason to know) that the customer will transport the hazardous material in commerce (such as the customer is transporting the hazardous material as part of a business). (Note that other exceptions, such as those for limited quantities and consumer commodities, may be available.) In this situation, the over-the-counter sales employee must be trained as required in Subpart H of
Part 172.

Q4.      Does a purchaser of hazardous materials over-the-counter become the shipper (offeror) responsible for compliance with the HMR when it “takes ownership” of the materials upon purchase?

A4.      No. The status of an offeror does not depend on ownership.  Under most circumstance, the purchaser of hazardous:materials over-the-counter is a carrier (or transporter) who may not accept and transport hazardous materials that are not in compliance with the HMR but who is not responsible for performing, the responsibilities of an offeror.

Q5.      Is an over-the-counter sales employee responsible for asking purchasers of hazardous materials whether they will be transporting the materials in commerce?

A5.      The HMR do not require a person selling hazardous material to ask this specific question, but it may be appropriate under the circumstances of over-the-counter sales.  The over-the-counter sales employee must consider readily apparent facts that indicate a customer will transport the purchased hazardous materials in commerce.  The employee would not be “absent  the knowledge” that its customer will transport the purchased hazardous material in commerce when a reasonable person would realize that the customer is purchasing the hazardous materials for use at (or delivery to) Another location as part of any type of business enterprise.

Q6.      Does an over-the-counter sales employee need to know whether a purchaser of hazardous materials will be transporting the materials in interstate commerce?

A6.      No. The distinction between interstate and intrastate commerce in RSPA’s January 19, 1996 letter to Arizona Refrigeration Supplies, Inc. (ARS) is no longer relevant because, after October 1, 1998, the HMR apply to all transportation in commerce.  The passage you quote from that letter should be read to delete the word “interstate” as follows:

If an offeror makes an over-the-counter sale to a customer who then transports the hazardous material in his own vehicle and the offeror has reason to know that the customer is engaged in commerce, the offeror must comply with the shipping paper-requirement.  Absent the knowledge of the customer in commerce, an offeror need not provide a shipping paper.

RSPA’s specific answer to the question raised by ARS whether it is responsible for preparing a shipping paper when it makes over-the-counter sales of refrigerant gases, in the second paragraph of that letter, must now be read:

if the refrigerant gas, which I presume is a Class 2 material, is offered to a[] carrier, the answer is yes; the original offeror or shipper of the hazardous material must prepare a shipping paper-unless other arrangements for this responsibility are made.

I hope this information is helpful.  Please contact this office if you need additional information.



Edward T. Mazzullo
Director, Office of Hazardous
  Materials Standards


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.6 Materials of trade exceptions