The US Government Accounting Office (GAO) has issued its much anticipated wetlines report, “Cargo Tank Trucks: Improved Incident Data and Regulatory Analysis Would Better Inform Decisions about Safety Risks.” http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-721.
OSHA recently published a brief relating to the new hazardous chemical labeling requirements under the Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200 (HCS), which brought the standard into alignment with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
The brief outlines the labeling requirements under the new standard. OSHA also discussed an exciting change, that it intends to make to Appendix C, Allocation Of Label Elements, along with a clarification.
Previously, OSHA did not allow a GHS pictogram to be shown on a shipped container label if it conflicted with the DOT hazmat label. Section C.2.3.3 stated:
“Where a pictogram required by the Department of Transportation under Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations appears on a shipped container, the pictogram specified in C.4 for the same hazard shall not appear.”
This statement caused a lot concern for those companies shipping 55 gallon drums and/or smaller containers. Those companies would be forced to have various label designs and train workers to recognize the hazards, even without the pictogram showing (on the drum label due to the 4 x 4 hazmat label). OSHA was petitioned to change the requirement almost immediately after the final rule was published in March of 2012.
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In a recent Final Rule, The Federal Railway Administration (FRA) has increased or modified its penalties for hazardous materials violations involving rail shipments.
The Final Rule, RIN 2130–ZA11, reflects Title III of Division C of MAP–21(Pub. L. 112–141), the Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2012. This Act revised the maximum and minimum civil penalties for violations of Federal laws regarding hazardous materials transportation. FRA has therefore updated its references to the maximum and minimum civil penalties for hazardous materials violations in its own guidelines.
In Part 209 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR), the FRA has made the following changes:
- The maximum civil penalty has been increased to $75,000 from $50,000 for “knowing violations” of any requirement of a Federal hazardous materials transportation law. This also applies to violations regarding orders, special permits or approvals issued by the DOT.
- The maximum fine has been increased from $100,000 to $175,000 if the violation results in death, serious illness or severe injury to any person, or substantial destruction of property.
- The minimum civil penalty of $250 was eliminated. However, a minimum civil penalty of $450 was retained for violations regarding training.
We’ve turned our clocks backwards, started our holiday preparations, and maybe even bought new calendars for 2013. But there’s one other thing that should be on our minds for the New Year, at least for shippers in the United States. We must make sure that our shipping descriptions are in order.
In 2006, a Final Rule, Docket No. PHMSA–06–25476, known as HM-215I, was issued by the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The goal of this rule was to bring the US Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR) into line with the current UN Recommendations for Transport of Dangerous Goods. One major change was that the shipping description order, as described in 49 CFR section 172.202(a), would be rearranged to reflect the international standard.
Originally, the shipping description order was prescribed as:
- Shipping name, hazard class, identification number and packing group (if applicable)
However, HM-215I changed this order to:
- Identification number, shipping name, hazard class, and packing group (if applicable)
PHMSA recognized that making this change would take some time, and granted a six-year transition period. After all, making this change would include retraining workers who prepare or read shipping papers, reprogramming computerized document systems, and rewriting standard operating procedures regarding shipping papers. However, the transition period is reaching its end. Starting on January 1, 2013, shipping papers must be in the “identification number first” order.
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How many times have you gotten something home from a store, and then decided it had to go back? Returns by customers, which then have to be returned by the store to distribution centers, are a fact of life for retailers today, enough that the process has its own name – “reverse logistics”. And while it’s easy enough to do for DVDs or clothing, if the returned product is a hazardous material, it can become a regulatory nightmare. Therefore, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has announced an Advanced Notification of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to study how this process should be regulated in the United States.
Nowadays, many consumer products contain hazardous materials – not just obvious chemicals, such as paints and cleaning products, but battery-powered electronics such as cellphones, and engine-driven equipment such as lawnmowers and snowblowers. Unfortunately, staff receiving the returned material at stores may not be trained in the proper way to handle and prepare hazardous materials.
For example, if a can of flammable paint or a broken mp3 player is returned to a store, the employees must (1) identify it as hazardous, (2) repackage it as a hazardous material, and (3) provide appropriate hazard communication, such as package labels and shipping documents. To make matters even more complicated, the “Consumer Commodity (ORM-D)” provisions that allowed many such products to be transported easily are being phased out. While the “Limited Quantity” provisions that are replacing consumer commodities also provide relief from most requirements, store personnel will have be retrained to understand the new system.
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