Environmental Health & Safety Compliance Blog

Compliance with the DOT HAZMAT Shipping Regulations

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel on Dec 2, 2009 7:33:00 AM

By Doug Graham, CHMM

The DOT hazardous materials regulations are a lengthy, complex set of rules with wide-sweeping applicability in many facilities. Investigating all the employees, vendors, materials, and shipment types involving hazmats can be challenging. To make matters worse, shipments may be originating from numerous departments, not necessarily immediately obvious to EH&S staff. Here are a few examples, I’ve heard many times over the years- “I didn’t know the lab was shipping dry ice by air”, “the engineering department has their own FedEx account?”, “Materials Management sent back hazardous chemicals to the supplier in a regular box?”, and my personal favorite- “who authorized him to sign hazardous waste manifests?”.

Here are 10 steps one can take to get a handle on DOT hazardous materials compliance-

1. Identify all potentially-regulated hazardous materials (hazardous wastes, medical /biological wastes, biological products and specimens, dry ice, radioactive materials, and hazardous chemicals (e.g., poisons, corrosives, gases, oxidizers, and flammables) that could potentially be shipped from each department.

2. Identify the modes of transport and carriers and the regulations applicable to each (e.g., 49 CFR for ground and UPS domestic air; IATA for FedEx Express; IMDG for international marine).

3. Identify all employees who have responsibilities related to preparing hazardous materials for transport (“hazmat employees”).

4. Develop training program(s) for those employees addressing general awareness, function-specific, and security issues, including training specific to 49 CFR, IATA, and IMDG, when applicable.

5. Train new hazmat employees within 90 days and retrain every 36 months.

6. Create shipping procedures for regularly-offered hazardous materials, and an auditing system to check shipments prepared by contractors, such as hazardous waste profiles, manifests, and labels prepared by waste vendors.

7. Keep up to date by reviewing regulatory changes on a yearly basis (49 CFR effective each Oct. 1, IATA effective each Jan. 1).

8. Maintain records and administrative programs, including annual registration, security planning, training records, past shipping papers, incident reports, and current regulations.

9. Know when and where to ask for help, e.g., Hazmat hotline, consultants.

10. Self-audit on a regular basis, be prepared for a regulatory or corporate audit, and reinforce through training, review and accountability.

Tags: Hazardous, Hazardous Materials, EHS, DOT, IATA, 49 CFR, Hazardous Chemicals

A Cautionary Tale from the Annals of Emergency Spill Response

Posted by Mark Campanale on Oct 9, 2009 8:09:00 AM

Doug Graham

"Responders? We don't need no stinkin' responders!"

OK, here's the scenario: Our hypothetical employer- (factory, institution, research facility, hospital, take your pick) makes an executive decision to "out-source" all hazardous chemical emergency response actions to an outside contractor. All employees are instructed that in the case of a chemical spill, they are not to respond, but to call the internal emergency contact person, who will then call the outside spill response service provider. Hands off, nice and neat, no internal hazmat response team, no need for emergency spill response (HAZWOPER) training of employees, it's all good, right? . . . . . . . . right?

Not so fast. What this employer does not realize is that in the event of a release they are in fact:

1) deciding if the incident could threaten human health or the environment; ]

2) implementing an incident command system;

3) assigning roles and responsibilities;

4) implementing defensive and/or offensive response actions;

5) notifying, or failing to notify, outside agencies; and the list goes on!

This sure sounds like "responding", and a lot like the stuff that's covered in a good emergency response training class!

The question now becomes, are all the people involved in the response trained in accordance with their anticipated rolls and response actions? Also, have they the knowledge and tools to make the correct decisions and perform assigned tasks?

Crucial decisions are often made in the initial stages of a hazardous chemical release, often by employees not always thought of as "emergency responders". According to OSHA's emergency response training standard- 29 CFR 1910.120(q) (HAZWOPER), an employee must be trained to the level to which they are expected to respond- awareness level, operations level, or technician level.

A simple way to approach this is to think of employees as fitting into one of these three categories:

1. Those who may be first to discover a hazardous chemical release and are expected only to recognize a potential threat, run away, warn others in the area to do the same, and then call for help; or
2. those who may come back to take defensive actions at a safe distance; or
3. those who will put on a full chemical protective suit, atmosphere-supplying respirator, and perform reconnaissance or take offensive actions in areas that could be a threat.
Yup, those are the basic descriptions for the three levels of OSHA HAZWOPER training.

So, in conclusion, if we go back to our hypothetical employer, we see that hiring an outside spill contractor only serves to add a tool to the emergency coordinator's tool bag, just an additional role under the employer's incident command structure. They've neither transferred responsibility, reduced decision making, nor removed the need for employee training.


Tags: Training, OSHA, Hazardous Chemicals