`Tis the season. . . to make this the safest and most successful holiday season ever for the Postal ServiceTM.
With the busy holiday season upon us, it is important to
take a moment to reinforce some important points regarding hazardous material (or HAZMAT) that can be found in
the mail, especially at this time.
Customers rely heavily on the Postal Service to safely
and efficiently deliver their gifts to friends, business associates, and loved ones during this season and also to return
packages after the holidays. It is important that every Postal Service employee take steps to ensure that holiday parcels known to or suspected to contain hazardous material
(Holiday HAZMAT) are properly handled.
Acceptance employees are required to ask the question
"Does your parcel contain anything liquid, fragile, perishable, or potentially hazardous?"
During this festive and giving period, the Postal Service
handles an additional 20 billion pieces of parcels. While the
vast majority of these packages contain nondangerous
items, some of them may contain a material that can cause
harm to employees and disrupt operations. When a parcel
contains hazardous material that is unacceptable for mailing or is improperly packaged, it is a concern to everyone.
At this time of year it is important to remember that hazardous materials can be found in a wide variety of common
household and consumer products. Holiday HAZMAT can
be found in:
• Shipments of liquor/wine/beer (nonmailable).
• Electronic equipment containing batteries.
• Cosmetics (perfumes, hair products, body and bath
• Consumer products containing petroleum products
such as, but not limited to, chain saws and string
• Parcels bearing an ORM-D/ORM-D-Air marking. See
the examples in the right-hand column.
• Food shipments preserved with dry ice.
• Parcels bearing a DOT hazard class 9 label. See the
example in the right-hand column.
• Fireworks and sparklers (nonmailable).
Some items are not outwardly hazardous, but when
packaged improperly can be mistaken for a dangerous
item. Electronic toys/games, for instance, when shipped
with the batteries in place can create an electromagnetic
hazard that may interfere with airplane navigation
It is also common to encounter parcels that have been
mailed in reused packaging that formerly contained hazardous materials. Postal Service employees are required to
assume that markings or labels present on parcels indicate
the actual contents of the parcel. It is acceptable to reuse
boxes for mail shipments provided that the mailer has removed or completely obliterated all former HAZMAT package markings and labels. Merely crossing out a label or
marking or writing the current contents on a box is insufficient to allow mailing. If any evidence of the former
contents is visible, do not accept the parcel. The former
markings and labels must be blotted out even if the parcel
will be wrapped in paper for mailing, because if the
wrapping becomes damaged during shipment, these markings will cause the package to be returned.
While it is not possible to list every type of hazardous
material that could be reasonably expected to be found in
the mail, recognizing those parcels that are known to or
suspected to contain Holiday HAZMAT is crucial to safe
If you suspect a parcel contains an identified/undeclared
Holiday HAZMAT, immediately notify your supervisor.
Under no circumstances should a parcel containing undeclared HAZMAT be allowed to continue through processing. Process for delivery only Holiday HAZMAT parcels that
meet the packaging and labeling requirements of the
Domestic Mail Manual and Publication 52, Hazardous,
Restricted, and Perishable Mail.
Responsibility for properly packaging and labeling
Holiday HAZMAT ultimately rests with the mailer. However,
by being alert and able to recognize HAZMAT parcels, we
can all do our part to make this a successful holiday season
for the Postal Service.
If you have any questions regarding the mailability of
any material, contact your local Business Mail Entry Unit or
Rates and Classification Service Center. Packaging and labeling requirements for HAZMAT can be found in the following Postal Service documents:
• Domestic Mail Manual 601.10.
• Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail.
• International Mail Manual.
Note: HAZMAT mail sent to Army Post Office (APO) or
Fleet Post Office (FPO) addresses must conform to International Mail Manual regulations.
— Aviation Mail Security,
Network Operations, 12-7-06