The hazardous materials endorsement, or HazMat endorsement as it’s more commonly known, is a special endorsement that can be added to a truck drivers commercial drivers license. But is it really necessary? Before answering that question, it may help to gain a little understanding of what has been classified as hazardous materials.
Generally speaking, the term hazardous materials is applied to substance which, if released into the environment, could cause significant damage to life (animal or human) or vegetation. These substances include flammable and combustible substances, poisons, and radioactive materials. Explosives are also included as a hazardous material for obvious reasons.
Chemicals can range from bleaches and water purifiers to some of the most dangerous chemicals known. Every day products like organic fuels, petroleum products, fertilizers, and pesticides for farms are also included in that list. As a truck driver, you cannot carry any of these items on your truck unless you hold a hazardous materials endorsement.
Because of the dangers involved with the transport of these products, obtaining a HazMat endorsement is not a simple task. Having said that, it’s not exactly difficult either. There are several components to obtaining this endorsement – the first involves proving to the licensing authorities that you know how to safely transport these materials, and how to react should an accident ever occur – this proof is achieved through a short test related to hazardous materials.
The second component is a little different. Hazardous materials represent a threat to the nation, so applicants for a HazMat endorsement need to go through a police probity check. This is done as part of the Homeland Security act and is designed to only allow trusted people access to this endorsement.
So, do you really need a hazardous materials endorsement? Only you can answer that. However, what we can say is that failing to hold this endorsement may reduce the number of employment opportunities available to you. If employers carry hazardous materials, and that may only be one trip per month, they still require a driver with a HazMat endorsement.