by Karrie Monette-Ishmael on September 23, 2013 at 8:00 am · in Karrie's Blog
The receptionist brings you the business cards of two PHMSA auditors and tells you they are waiting to speak to you. What do you do?
Well, after taking a deep breath, you go introduce yourself and find out why they are there. A “surprise audit” is how they respond, and you think, “OMG, how can this be happening?” Once you regain your senses, you ask them more about the process and what they wish to see. When they ask you questions, be honest; don’t try to hide things – that will only get you in trouble.
First question: Where are the training records?
If PHMSA feels that you are a hazmat employer, you will have hazmat employees. Under 49 CFR 172.700 you are required to train employees in general awareness, function specific, security and safety training. You are required to have documentation of that training. It is required every 3 years.
There are several possible violations: failure to train and/or failure to document the training.
A violation for training is easy to avoid. Keep good records, and ensure all employees who could be considered hazmat employees are retrained every three years – without question!
Second question: Where are your packaging records?
What packaging are you using? Do you have a packing instruction sheet for that package on file? Are you preparing it as the manufacture said you should? Did the manufacture provide you with instructions that are repeatable time after time? Are you following the closing instructions? Are you torqueing the bottles as you should? PHMSA will ask to see everything, including the torque wrench that you are using.
At the end of the day, PHMSA will sits down and explain what they find. If you are lucky, you will have no probable violations, and perhaps some recommendations. If you are not so lucky, PHMSA will explain the probable violations, and the process for the corrective actions.
Corrective actions are very important. Your response to the corrective action may determine how bad your actual violation maybe in the end. If you have probable violations, spend time ensuring that the corrective actions are well thought out meet the 49 CFR standards and correctly respond to the violation.
What starts out as a stressful day turns out to be a valuable learning experience. If you are doing things right to begin with, PHMSA will understand that, and will work with you to fix about problems.
Did you know that ICC has auditing services? Let our regulatory experts come and audit your operation, including training and packaging records. We will provide a list of “probable violations” and feedback that you can use to improve. You never know when you will have that knock on the door.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has increased the potential penalties for failing to comply with the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).
Under Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR), hazardous materials must be transported in accordance the rules set out in Parts 100-185 of the HMR. Failing to follow these minimum standards can result in serious risk to the public, as well as environmental and property damage. Therefore, the potential penalties for lack of compliance must be appropriate. These penalties are set by Congress, but must be reflected in the HMR itself. Civil penalties are fines; there are criminal penalties involving prison sentences for violations that are “willful or reckless”.
Penalties must be kept current, and reflect not only inflationary changes, but also the government’s concern ab that the regulations are taken seriously by stakeholders. Therefore, on July 6, 2012, the U.S. Congress revised the maximum and minimum civil penalties for a “knowing violation” of the Federal hazardous material transportation law, or legal requirements under that law, such as regulations, special permits, inspectors’ orders or special approvals issued under that law. Details on these new penalties may be found in 49 U.S.C. 5123(a). The new penalties take effect on violations that occurred on or after October 1, 2012.
To follow Congress’ lead, PHMSA issued a Final Rule ([Docket No. PHMSA–2012–0257 (HM–258)], RIN 2137–AE96) on April 17, 2013, that incorporated the new civil penalties. These involve:
Increasing the maximum fine possible from $55,000 up to $75,000, for knowingly violating the law;
Revising the maximum penalty from $110,000 to $175,000 , for knowingly violation the law in a way that results in “death, serious illness or severe injury” to a person, or which causes substantial destruction of property; and
Eliminating the minimum civil penalty amount, since most fines are well over the previous set minimum of $250. However, a minimum penalty will be retained for training violations, now to be set at $450.
The updated sections of the HMR include:
§ 107.329, Maximum penalties,
Appendix A to Subpart D of Part 107 – Guidelines for Civil Penalties, and
§ 171.1, Applicability of Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to persons and functions.
Every four years the transportation agencies in USA, Canada and Mexico jointly publish the North American Emergency Response Guidebook. There are more than one million shipments of Hazardous Materials across North America each day. While most arrive without incident at the destination, there are situations where emergency action/response is needed.
This past May more than 2 million free copies of the 2012 Emergency Response Guidebook were distributed to firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and law enforcement officers by PHMSA.
Now, there is an app for that!
The free app, which is geared for first responders—can be downloaded from iTunes and Google Play.
Authors of this app, warn that this app is for reference and not to be used in an emergency response situation and the only way to stay up to date is to have your own ERG.
The 2012 North American ERG book in English, French or Spanish is available in two sizes: 4 x 6 and 5 x 7. If you do not already have your copy, buy one today.
by ICC Compliance Center on November 27, 2012 at 12:07 pm · in Regulations
Earlier this year PHMSA amended Section 175.25 of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171–180) which prescribes the requirements for air-passenger notification of hazardous materials restrictions. The primary purpose for this regulation is to enhance public safety awareness regarding the carriage of hazardous materials onboard aircraft, either as carry-on items or in checked baggage.
The amendments included requirements for passenger notification during ticket purchase and flight check-in, and are effective January 1, 2013. While PHMSA has the primary responsibility for issuing 49 CFR regulations, the FAA has primary responsibility for overseeing compliance with these regulations as they pertain to air transport.
Since publication of the January 19, 2011 final rule, PHMSA and the FAA have received numerous questions regarding specific interpretations of the amended requirements and the appropriateness of certain means of compliance with the revised regulations. This advisory notice responds to these appeals that request up to a two-year extension of the compliance date.
PHMSA and FAA agree that delaying the full compliance date of revised § 175.25 is warranted, because it supports the implementation of more effective methods for increasing passenger awareness. This is PHMSA’s notice to extend (in a future rulemaking action), the compliance date by no less than one year, beyond the current January 1, 2013 compliance date.
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.
Note that this change should not affect Canadian shipments to the United States. Under Canada’s Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDG), the shipping description may be given in either order – the shipping name first, or identification number first. Under the reciprocity provisions of 49 CFR sections 171.12 and 171.22, either order should be acceptable for a Canadian shipment into the United States.
If you have questions about how this change will affect your operations, please contact ICC The Compliance Center Inc. at 1-888-977-4834 (Canada) or 1-888-442-9628 (USA).