Transporting hazardous materials (hazmat) can present a danger to you and everyone around you. It’s not something to be taken lightly. To help take some of the danger out of hazardous transport, the Department of Transportation (DoT) has created hazmat shipping guidelines. Staying compliant with these guidelines is a must for any company that handles dangerous materials.
The hazmat transportation rules the DoT created initially went into effect on October 1, 1998. Since then, the stipulations have changed significantly. As a company in the dangerous materials transportation business, it’s crucial for you to stay on top of changes and new additions to the guidelines. In this blog, we’ll do a quick overview of these guidelines and how you can stay compliant.
If you’re the one delivering the hazardous materials, then you have a few responsibilities to follow. The first and most important step is determining if the material you’re transporting meets the definition of hazardous material. The other responsibilities are dependent on this identification.
After you have determined your shipment qualifies as hazardous materials, there are a few other major responsibilities you are going to have to follow. These include:
- Getting your shipping paper
- Installing a placard and marking your vehicle
- Loading and unloading the material
- Blocking and bracing
- Reporting incidents
- Developing a security plan
- Training your employees
Keep in mind this list only includes some of the requirements for carriers and shippers. You can find the rest on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration site. In addition, the cargo space of the vehicle should be suitable for the material being shipped and the shipping vehicle needs to be in good operating condition. Finally, the carrier must check that the material offered by the shipper is properly described and packaged.
Incidents are a fact of life, they are going to happen every now and then. What’s important is what you do after it happens. It’s crucial that you report it as soon as possible if any of the following occur during transportation:
- Someone dies
- Someone is injured and requires a trip to a hospital
- The general public is evacuated for one hour or more
- A major transportation artery or facility is closed or shut down for one hour or more
- Fire, breakage, spillage, or suspected radioactive contamination occurs involving a radioactive material
- Fire, breakage, spillage, or suspected contamination occurs involving an infectious substance other than a diagnostic specimen or regulated medical waste
- A release of a marine pollutant occurs in a quantity exceeding 450 liters (119 gallons) for a liquid or 400 kilograms (882 pounds) for a solid
- A situation exists (e.g. a continuing danger to life exists at the scene of the incident) that, in the judgment of the person in possession of the hazardous material, should be reported to the National Response Center
For businesses that ship hazardous materials, it’s necessary to have employees who are trained to handle that material. This ensures transportation is done safely and properly. Employers are expected to have their employees participate in:
- General awareness: This is a training class that introduces employees to the hazardous material requirements and explains the purpose of hazard communication. All hazmat employees must have this training.
- Function-specific training: Here, hazmat employees learn the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities for an individual’s job function.
- Safety training: This identifies the hazards posed by materials in the workplace and personal protection measures.
- Security training: This training includes an awareness of security risks and methods designed to enhance transportation security. All hazmat employees must receive security awareness training.
After this initial training, it’s expected that hazmat employees retake this training every three years or changes in job function.
At White Tank & Truck Repair, we offer full-service cargo tank testing. This is a federally regulated procedure performed by our certified staff. If your tank doesn’t meet up with the required standards, we can step in and repair the tank before retesting it. In addition, we perform annual and five-year inspections. To learn more about this topic, contact us today.