Hazmat: What is That Smell?

Earlier this month, we reported on several fines issued by the FAA against shippers of dangerous materials, including a highly flammable, toxic herbicide.  Everyone can easily see the risk posed by improperly placing such material on an airplane.  The FAA’s latest proposed fine, however, highlights the fact that carriers are much more likely to face a threat from seemingly innocuous products.

On April 8, the FAA recommended a fine of $77,000 (http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=16094) against Unilever Bestfoods, Inc. for improperly shipping . . . hairspray.  Unfortunately, just because a product is one that people come in contact to every day does not mean it can be safely put on an aircraft.  Hairspary contains ethanol under pressure, and is both flammable and potentially explosive.  The package in question was improperly marked, classed, described, packaged and labelled.

This was yet another example where the fine was particularly high because the FAA found that the shipper was not providing adequate training to its employees in identifying and handling hazardous materials.  Until shippers rigorously adhere to best practices in these areas, we will continue to see more cases such as this working their way through the system.

(Originally posted April 21, 2014)

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