The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) today announced a Final Rule that amends the Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to harmonize U.S. laws with numerous international standards. The Final Rule improves safety, streamlines the transport of hazardous goods, including medical supplies, batteries, and components used in manufacturing, and encourages shippers to package goods more efficiently.

PHMSA estimates the rule will save consumers approximately $250 million over the next 10 years in costs related to the shipment of goods.

“Supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have touched nearly every sector of our economy,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The change we are announcing today will help to streamline international shipping, untangle supply chains and reduce costs for Americans.”

In addition to enhancing safety, the Final Rule will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and supply chain disruptions by allowing the transport of more goods in fewer trips. The rule also helps lessen the economic disadvantages faced by American companies that, when competing in foreign markets, are forced to comply with different or conflicting requirements or forgo exporting to internationally altogether.

“The United States is a global leader in safely and efficiently transporting hazardous materials that are essential to supporting our economy,” said PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown. “The new rule will improve supply chains, reduce prices for consumers, and produce environmental benefits without sacrificing safety.”

Other highlights of the rule include:

  • Updated standards for the manufacture, use, and certification of pressure vessels, used to transport essential gases for medical, manufacturing, and other uses.
  • Updated requirements for the transportation of damaged or defective lithium batteries.
  • Improved process for recycling or disposing of small gas or fuel cell cartridges.
  • Updated packaging construction provisions to help reduce delays and interruptions of hazardous materials during transportation.
  • Provisions that encourage the use of animal-friendly alternative hazard testing to reduce the prevalence of animal testing.

The United States, led by DOT/PHMSA, serves as the Chair of the United Nations Subcommittee on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (hazardous materials). The Subcommittee is tasked with maintaining and approving amendments to model regulations that aim to harmonize the transport of hazardous materials globally to ensure safe and efficient transport of goods across international borders. Since 1994, PHMSA has worked to publish international harmonization updates every few years as part of its biennial process to maintain alignment with various international standard-setting bodies, including the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods Model Regulations, the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code, and the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air.