Editor's note: The following article is intended as general information only and is not legal advice. If you have questions concerning legal requirements for shipping paint or other matters, consult an attorney.
From buildings and appliances to vehicles big and small, paint is literally everywhere. For every surface to protect and decorate, there’s a paint for the job.
But shipping paint involves more than you may realize. Exactly what type of paint are you shipping? Does the paint contain hazardous materials and, if so, which regulations apply?
Whether it’s acrylic, vinyl, urethane, or another type of paint, here are seven key steps to understanding how to ship paint safely and compliantly.
From ancient cave paintings to what is a multi-billion dollar industry today, the story of paint is as rich as it is colorful. But when it comes to shipping paint, the reality is more black and white.
The first thing to determine is exactly what you’re shipping, explains Lynn Reiman, UPS Corporate Regulated Goods.
Depending on the chemical compounds in the paint—from potentially flammable solvents to compressed gases—the product may be regulated as dangerous goods.
To find out whether your paint is considered hazardous, consult the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the product you plan to ship, Reiman says.
Most SDSs have a Transport section (usually Section 14) that details whether a commodity is regulated in transport. If your SDS does not have one, request a new one from the manufacturer.
Keep in mind the distinction between liquid paints and aerosols, which are applied wet then cured through evaporation, and powder coatings, which are applied dry and cured through heating.
Responsibility for the proper classification of goods is entirely the shipper’s and not the carrier’s (in this case UPS).
Once you’ve classified your product, the question is what to do with this information.
For regulated paint products, shippers must undergo Dangerous Goods (DG) training. This requirement applies whether you expect to ship by air or by ground. It also applies regardless of the typical size of your shipment.
Fortunately, there’s a wide range of Dangerous Goods training providers available. UPS offers its own Dangerous Goods seminar too. This option may prove convenient if you plan to ship paint with UPS.
As a paint shipper, you may be able to take advantage of exceptions in ground transportation regulations for certain quantities of paint or paint-related materials, says Reiman.
Many country-level regulations, including 49 CFR in the United States, have exceptions for ground shipments of certain paints or paint-related materials. Air regulations will be much stricter.
Shipping paint in spray cans?
These are considered aerosols, and typically fall under the ‘Class 2 – Gases’ classification. While most country-level regulations have some ground shipping exceptions, aerosols are always fully regulated in air transport.
As with classification, the responsibility for ensuring compliance with packaging regulations for shipping paint rests with the shipper and not the carrier.
To properly pack paint and paint-related materials, know your product and ensure you have a current Safety Data Sheet (SDS), says Reiman. The Dangerous Goods classification, specifically the packing group, dictates the packaging.
While packaging regulations will differ according to product classification and quantity, general principles when shipping paint include:
Understanding the regulatory framework that governs packaging is a critical element of Dangerous Goods training.
Paint shippers must be aware of a range of communications. Again, it’s essential to have a current Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to determine classification and required communications. Not all paint is classified as UN 1263 (Paint) Flammable Liquid.
Frequent errors when shipping paint include:
Take heed of the regulations and adhere to them carefully. Nowadays, regulators are paying closer attention to e-commerce and consumer commodity shipments, Reiman says.
Check out UPS resources on Dangerous Goods shipping, and consult industry groups such as the Council on Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles (COSTHA) and the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council (DGAC) for additional support.
Shipping paint needn’t be a headache. Here are five key takeaways to keep in mind when preparing to ship paint:
Once you’ve met any training requirements, consult with your UPS sales representative about establishing a UPS Dangerous Goods Account, which is required to ship hazardous materials.
From art supplies for budding Picassos to automotive finishing, demand for paint shipping is high. Understand the regulations that apply to your product and get shipping paint now.
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