49 CFR Part 178

The US Department of Transportation provides 49 CFR Part 178 with the purpose and scope of outlining the manufacturing and testing specifications for packaging and containers used for the transportation of hazardous materials in commerce. Transportation includes the entire transportation cycle and includes ground, air and sea transportation. Generally air transportation is the most restrictive.

Generally, hazardous materials must be packaged in  performance packaging, comprised of inner receptacles, cushioning and absorbing materials. Additionally, the outer container or packaging must be designed, manufactured and certified for the containment of specified packaging groups and hazardous material classes. All packaging must be tested in conditions similar to the designed shipment. Furthermore, most testing is conducted in lots of units. In most cases, the test of one unit can be applied to the rest of the lot. If a failure occurs, technically that entire lot has failed. The testing of other units in a lot can be completed to attempt to overcome a previous failure.

Every hazardous material has a related packaging authorization reference, which relates to a specific section of 49 CFR 178. These sections call out the approved outer and inner components of the performance packaging.

As previously mentioned, air transportation generally has the strictest requirements which can include specification for closures, quantity restrictions for inner packaging, pressure differential testing for packaging designed to contain liquids, provisions for handling cylinders and specifications for absorbent material.

According to UPS, hazardous materials shipments authorized for non-specification packaging that require a shipping paper must be in outer packages at the following minimum levels (overpacks are excluded from this requirement):

  • All packages must meet the requirements of International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) Procedure 3A testing.
  • Packages must be in a minimum 200 lbs. Burst Strength or 32 Edge Crush Test (ECT) certified box. The box must also be of sufficient strength to protect the contents while in transit.
  • Any non-specification package that displays the ISTA seal indicating the package has been tested and certified to ISTA Procedure 3A is not subject to the minimum ECT or burst strength requirements.

Keystone Compliance can meet your 49 CFR Part 178 package testing needs. Keystone Compliance can assist manufacturers with their package testing needs including the testing requirements of 49 CFR Part 178, 49 CFR Part 173, ISTA 3A, IATA Section 5 and IATA Section 6. Please contact us to learn how we can meet your ingress protection testing needs.