Testing Your IBCs for UN/DOT Standards

Because intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) carry liquids, pastes, and other products that can be considered a little dangerous, the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is tasked with making the rules that keep them safe as they’re being transported and stored. More specifically, the 49 CFR addresses the requirement that all IBCs must be tested to meet specific strict safety standards. Both the United Nations (UN) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) require inspections of these IBCs so that certain parts of the containers are tested every so often. The requirements for these tests and inspections vary according to what they are, but each aspect is inspected regularly to keep the containers as safe as possible as they are stored or transported where they need to go.

Careful Inspections Are Important

From the moment an IBC is put into use, everything is recorded so that at any time, everyone who is responsible for these things will know what is going on with that particular container. The results of each test or inspection also has to be recorded, and as a general rule, there are four areas that need to be tested and/or inspected regularly. These include:

● Internal pressure test: tested every 30 months (2.5 years), the internal pressure needs to be at 2.9 PSIG.

● External visual inspection: inspected every 30 months (2.5 years), certain components have to be inspected to make sure they still work properly.

● Internal inspection: inspected every five years for things such as thickness, difficult-to-read markings, and any cracks, erosion, dents, or damages.

● Repair requirements: certain requirements have to be met for all repairs, so it’s important to check on the requirements for repairs, replacements, and so on.

In addition to all of this, the complete IBC UN/DOT inspection rules can be found online on many different sites. If there is a retest date, it has to be marked directly on the container itself on or near the metal certification plate.

Is it Complex?

Determining the inspection rules for IBCs is not that complicated, and you can even print out a short reference guide to help you remember what task is required at what date. It isn’t that the testing and inspection tasks are complicated because they aren’t. It’s just that there are quite a few of them, which means you’ll have to come up with a convenient way to remember them all. There are three main materials used for all IBCs – metal, plastic, and composite material – and they all have different recommendations for testing, inspecting, and keeping them in excellent working conditions and at their safest.

The main things you’ll be looking for and doing include external visual inspections, comprehensive internal inspections, pressure checks, and overall thickness checks. All of these things will affect the way the containers last and how well they operate whenever they are in use. Again, everything must be recorded and documented, in part because the DOT could come to your facility at any time and ask to see those records, and naturally, you have to comply. As long as you’re doing things by the book, none of this should be a problem, so being careful and doing everything properly from day one will be a big help in the end.