Hazmat is shorthand for “hazardous materials”. Hazmat drivers are CDL drivers who transport corrosive, explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise dangerous material. The term Hazmat is often used in combination with Tanker positions as most Hazmat materials transported are liquid or gas based, but that isn’t always the case.
Here are some examples of common Hazmat freight:
- Flammable Gas
- Non-flammable Gas
- Poison Gas
- Flammable Liquids
- Flammable Solids
- Spontaneously Combustible
- Infectious Substances
- Radioactive material
- Organic Peroxide
Hazmat Truck Driver Responsibilities
In addition to standard CDL driver responsibilities, Hazmat drivers have a separate set of responsibilities as the materials they haul can be a danger to themselves along with others and even the environment. Hazmat drivers must receive training on how to safely load and unload, handle, store and transport hazardous material. Also, they must receive training in how to respond to an emergency incident involving the transportation of dangerous materials.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Hazmat training must include these four areas:
- General awareness/familiarization: intended to raise the hazmat employees' awareness and understanding of the hazard communication requirements.
- Function-specific training: intended to teach the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities for an individual's job function.
- Safety training: provides information concerning the hazards posed by materials in the workplace and personal protection measures.
- Security Training: awareness of security risks associated with hazardous materials transportation and methods designed to enhance transportation security.
In regards to major job-specific responsibilities, the FMCSA lists these duties:
- Shipping paper
- Placard and mark vehicle
- Loading and unloading
- Blocking and bracing
- Incident reporting
- Security planning
- Training new employees
How Do You Become a Hazmat Driver?
In the large majority of cases, to become a hazardous materials driver you will first need to have a Class A CDL and some CDL driving experience under your belt. Also, you will need to obtain a Hazmat (H) endorsement and oftentimes a Tanker (N) endorsement as well, (or an X endorsement, which combines the two into one).
To obtain a Hazmat endorsement, you would need to complete the Hazmat knowledge test, prove your U.S. citizenship (or appropriate immigration status), and pass a Federal Security Threat Assessment, which includes a criminal background check including a fingerprint scan.
Benefits of Being a Hazmat Driver
Hazmat drivers are constantly in demand due to the specialized training and skills required for Hazmat jobs. Drivers who put in the effort to get their Hazmat endorsement will have better job security and a competitive edge over other drivers.
Also, due to higher demand, Hazmat drivers usually average higher pay than standard CDL drivers. According to ZipRecruiter, Hazmat Tanker drivers average $57,530 yearly, which is almost $10,00 more than the average salary for tractor-trailer drivers ($47,130, bls.gov).
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