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

Interpretation Response #18-0144

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Abbott Action, Inc.

Individual Name: Mr. Brian French

Location State: MA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

March 04, 2019

Mr. Brian French
Abbott Action, Inc.
dba-French Packaging Services
249 Oceana Way
Norwood, MA  02062

Reference No. 18-0144

Dear Mr. French:

This letter is in response to your November 20, 2018, email requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) applicable to packaging modifications.  You state that your company wishes to make modifications to a tested plywood large packaging (50D/Y) and explain that the outer packaging (plywood box) will remain unchanged but that the foam blocks used for cushioning will be modified to accommodate a different configuration of smaller or identical inner packages within the large packaging.  Specifically, you note that while the overall thickness of the foam cushioning blocks will remain unchanged, a notch/groove will be moved.  Therefore, you ask if § 178.601(g)(4) permits modifications to the cushioning materials used in a plywood large packaging (50D/Y) without requiring that the packaging configuration be retested.

Your email references § 178.601 under Subpart M, “Testing of Non-Bulk Packagings and Packages”; however, based on the information provided, this Office believes that § 178.955 under Subpart Q, “Testing of Large Packagings” would better address your question.  Section 178.955(g) states that inner packagings of equivalent or smaller size may be used provided certain conditions are met.  In accordance with § 178.955(g)(1)(iv), sufficient additional cushioning material must be used to take up void spaces and to prevent significant movement of the inner packages.  Therefore, if you are moving the notch/groove on the foam blocks to accommodate the smaller or identical inner packages and to fill any void spaces and prevent any significant movement within the outer package, then this modification would not violate the requirements of § 178.955(g) and would be considered an authorized variation.  

I hope this information is helpful.  Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.


T. Glenn Foster
Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

178.601, 178.601(g)(4), 178.955, 178.955(g), 178.955(g)(1)(iv)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
178.601 General requirements
178.955 General requirements