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 #13-0195 ([Public Utilities Commission of OhioTransportation Department] [Mr. Tom Forbes])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Public Utilities Commission of OhioTransportation Department

Individual Name: Mr. Tom Forbes

Location State: OH Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

December 23, 2013

Mr. Tom Forbes
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio
Transportation Department
180 E Broad Street, 4th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215

Ref. No. 13-0195

Dear Mr. Forbes:

This responds to your October 15, 2013 email regarding enforcement of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180).  In your email, you describe a scenario where a shipper loads a van trailer with hazardous materials (hazmat) packages and then seals the trailer noting that the carrier is not present during loading.  The shipper then instructs the carrier not to break the seal and provides a shipping paper.  During the course of transportation, the carrier is stopped by a State enforcement agent and the trailer is inspected whereupon the agent discovers the hazmat packages are not secured.  With respect to this situation, you request clarification of the person in violation of the package securement requirements of § 177.834(a) of the HMR.

It is the opinion of this Office that, and barring additional information pertinent to the scenario you describe, the person performing the loading of the hazmat packages in the motor vehicle is in violation of the package securement requirements of § 177.834(a); in this case the shipper.  Regarding carrier responsibility, as specified in § 171.2(f), no person may transport hazmat unless it is transported in accordance with the HMR.  The carrier may rely on information provided by the offeror (the shipper) of the hazmat unless the carrier knows or, a reasonable person, acting in the circumstances and exercising reasonable care, would have knowledge that the information provided by the offeror is incorrect.  See § 171.8 for the HMR definition of person who offers or offeror.  Note that in general, whenever hazmat has not been shipped in compliance with the HMR, DOT will attempt to identify and bring an enforcement proceeding against the person who first caused the transportation of the noncomplying shipment.  See the formal interpretation of carrier responsibility when accepting hazmat for transportation in commerce (June 4, 1998; 63 FR 30411).

In the absence of participating in the loading operation or having access to the loaded trailer, it is assumed that the carrier would be relying on the shipping paper and the accompanying certification that the packages are in proper condition for transportation; i.e., properly secured.  

Unless the carrier has actual or constructive knowledge that the packages are not properly secured, we see no reason not to accept the shipment.  However, the carrier may not ignore readily apparent information that would indicate the packages are not properly secured.

I hope this information is helpful.  If you have further questions, please contact this office.


Robert Benedict
Chief, Standards Development Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
177.834 General requirements