OSHA Safety
What to do When the Inspector Comes Knocking

Is anyone really ready for a surprise visit from a hazmat inspector? The quick answer is no, but there are things that you can do to prepare in anticipation of a visit.

Federal law requires that you allow an inspector access to records, property, reports, and other information relevant to shipping hazardous materials/dangerous goods. Unlike the crime show Law and Order, a search warrant is not required; you may not deny an inspector access to a regulated facility, impose conditions on the entry, or limit the inspector’s right to gather information or evidence.

Inspector’s will visit for a variety of reasons, but often include:

  • Complaints
  • Observations
  • High-risk commodities (explosives, bulk shipments)
  • Incidents
  • Prior issues
  • Proximity to another company being inspected

Preparing for the inevitable

  • Develop a plan and designate staff with defined roles
  • Ensure the designate knows what to say, and when to seek assistance from upper management
  • Conduct internal audits and institute corrective actions
  • Have commonly requested items in a centralized location

What are commonly request documents?

  • List of hazmat employees
  • Employee training records
  • Shipping papers
  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  • Special permits and interpretations

What do you do when it is show time?

  • Ask the inspector to identify him/herself and the purpose of the visit
  • Escort them to a quiet area where they can review documents
  • Do not volunteer information, wait for them to ask
  • Be polite, courteous and helpful. Never become rude or argumentative
  • Take notes on what is discussed and who is spoken to
  • Explain company polices (i.e., they must take brief safety training before entering the facility, they must wear safety glasses in a specific area, the supervisor must be present when…)
  • Document the inspector’s information and get a business card, if available
  • Do NOT sign anything except the Exit Brief

The Exit Brief

The Exit Brief will document the visit and any infractions that were found. Signing this document is not an admission of guilt, but rather acknowledging receipt of the document.

Most common violations

  • Failure to train
  • Improper training recordkeeping
  • Undeclared shipments
  • Improper packaging
  • Improper closures
  • Improper testing
  • Labels and marks not properly applied
  • Unauthorized Emergency Response number

After the inspection

  • Follow up with information/documents that may have been requested
  • Verify the probable violation, and take corrective actions
  • Document any actions and/or training
  • Seek assistance by industry experts on areas that you may not understand
  • Reply within timeframes indicated on the documents received
  • Ask for an extension when needed

Being prepared for the inspector before they arrive will save time, cost, and frustration. Always do your best to comply with the regulations, and revisit internal procedures regularly to ensure they are being followed. Ensure that you stay up-to-date with the changes in the regulations, and ensure all employees are trained accordingly.

Need help? Ask us about our auditing and training services. We can help ensure you and your employees are prepared just in case the inspector comes knocking.

The Poisoner’s Handbook – How Forensic Science Gave Birth to Modern Safety Regulations

Modern Forensic Science

Dr. Charles Norris, New York City's first chief medical examiner
[Dr. Charles Norris, New York City’s first chief medical examiner]. [Between 1920 and 1932?] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2013650279/. (Accessed September 02, 2016.)
If you love TV shows like “The Making of a Murderer” or “Forensics Files”, you’ll probably be intrigued by a book titled The Poisoner’s Handbook. But rather than serving as a guide to criminal mayhem, this book traces the growth of modern forensic science in the U.S., concentrating on the contributions of Dr. Charles Norris.

Norris was a visionary of his time who reformed the New York City Medical Examiner’s office from a political plum into a modern instrument for protecting the public. This meant protecting them not just from the occasional thug or greedy heir lurking with a bottle of rat poison, but against some of the largest industries of the time, who, in a combination of greed and ignorance, often poisoned their own employees and the public at large.

Author Deborah Blum deftly outlines her heroes and villains. Charles Norris came from a family of bankers (his grandfather had negotiated the first loan to the federal government to finance the Civil War), and often would resort to using his own money to keep his office running. His expertise in toxicology served him well in finding new ways to detect chemicals and prove their role in the deaths of the unfortunates who ended up in his morgue.

Playing Robin to Norris’s Bruce Wayne was Alexander Gettler, a forensic chemist from an immigrant family. Despite their vastly different backgrounds, the two shared a dedication to science and to justice, and were determined to ensure that the first would be always used in the service of the second.

Science, Justice, and Poison

The villains were more wide-ranging. Some were the typical murderers associated with today’s forensic science. Many were able to walk away from their crimes due to the crude science of the time. Mary Frances Creighton was acquitted in the arsenic poisoning of her brother and mother-in-law, only to be convicted and executed years later for killing another woman. But each defeat sent Norris and Gettler back to the laboratory to discover ever more effective techniques for identifying chemical poisons.

But the actions of individual criminals didn’t endanger New Yorkers as much as some of the ostensibly law-abiding corporate citizens. The medical examiners were called in to investigate an oil company whose employees had nicknamed one facility the “looney gas building”. As Blum describes it,

“[t]he men who worked there … had become a little odd—moody, short-tempered, unable to sleep. They’d started getting lost on the familiar plant grounds, sometimes had trouble remembering their friends. And then in September 1924 the workers started collapsing, going into convulsions, babbling deliriously.”

Norris’s investigation pinned the blame on a chemical manufactured in that facility—tetraethyl lead—and identified its neurotoxic properties. The chemical was temporarily banned in New York City, until lobbying efforts restored it to a perceived “safe” status. Tetraethyl lead remained a common component of gasoline until concerns about the spike in environmental lead from car exhaust led to its phasing out in the 1970s .

US Radium Girls Argonne National Laboratory
US Radium Girls Argonne National Laboratory

Another chapter covers the plight of the “Radium Girls“, who painted clocks and watches with luminous paint, unaware that the appealing glow came from deadly radium. Taught to use their lips to put a point on their brushes, the workers, mostly teenagers and young women, soon suffered from the horrific effects of radiation poisoning. Norris and Gettler proved that the very bones of the victims had become radioactive.

Consumer Safety Regulations

The book gives a terrifying look at what a world without workplace or consumer safety regulations is like. By 1926, drunken drivers were already a menace (automobile accidents being the biggest killers in New York City that year), but elevators in high buildings were becoming death traps, taking 87 lives—most simply because no one thought to put up barriers and warning signs in front of empty elevator shafts. Deadly carbon monoxide came not only from the exhausts of the newfangled automobiles, but was piped directly into many homes as “illuminating gas,” and killed many from causes as simple as a faulty fitting. Another deadly gas, hydrogen cyanide, was used as a fumigant against rats and insects, with scant attention to its effects on humans nearby. Toxic chemicals such as arsenic could be easily purchased and used by members of the public who might or might not have any idea how to handle them safely.

But regulation could bring more danger to the public. Blum examines how Prohibition, designed to save people from the dangers of alcoholism, was killing more than unregulated alcohol ever had. Contaminated drink—caused by bad distilling in homemade stills, deliberate adulteration by bootleggers to increase their profits, or even by government who thought that “denaturing” illegal alcohol by pouring in toxic chemicals would keep people from drinking it—lived up to its nickname of “rotgut” in sometimes horrific fashion. The last part of the book shows, ironically, how counter-productive badly-conceived regulations can be.

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York is a primer on criminology and safety, a glimpse into the fascinating world of 1920s New York City, and a morality play about the struggles of two men determined to protect the public from toxic monsters loosed upon them by apathy, greed and politics. In an era where regulations are seen by some as not worth their economic impact, the lesson of this book is that we can’t afford to avoid such a fight.

Questions about chemical safety in the workplace? Contact ICC Compliance Center’s regulatory department here at 1-888-442-9628 (USA) or 1-888-977-44834 (Canada).

Uniform Straight Bill of Lading
US Bill of Lading New Requirements

NMFC Supplement 2

Supplement 2 to the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) version NMF 100-AP, became effective on August 13th 2016, which updates the standards of the US Bill of Lading.

Included in this supplement are drastic changes to the Uniform Straight Bill of Lading, Straight Bill of Lading–Short Form and the NMFC rules in Item 360 regarding bills of lading. These changes were made without notice and without a comment period for shippers. See below for the most significant changes and the impact that shippers will incur:

NMF 100 Item 360-B Uniform Straight Bill of Lading Terms and Conditions Sec. 1 (b)

What Changed:

Previous version:…The burden to prove freedom from negligence is on the carrier or the party in possession.

Supplement 2:…The burden to prove carrier negligence is on the shipper.

This is in regard to loss or damage due to negligence of the carrier. Previously, the carrier—or the party in possession—had to prove they were not negligent. Carriers are actually in possession of freight when shipping damage occurs. Now the burden of proof has shifted to the shippers. This becomes exceedingly difficult because the shipper did not possess the freight at the time the damage occurs. They are not knowledgeable about the movement of the shipment from origin to destination, and therefore are at an unreasonable disadvantage. Shippers have to be aware of this change and protect themselves and understand how this will affect their business.

NMF 100 Item 360-B Uniform Straight Bill of Lading Terms and Conditions Sec. 1 (b)

What Changed:

Previous version:No carrier shall be liable for any loss or damage or for any delay caused by an Act of God, the public enemy, the authority of law or the act or default of shipper.

Supplement 2:No carrier shall be liable for any loss or damage or for any delay caused by an Act of God, the public enemy, the authority of law, the act or default of the shipper, riots or strikes, or any related causes.

There were two additions to the list of conditions in this sentence. The first was that “riots or strikes” were added to the list of conditions. Another new addition is the phrase “or any related causes.” This is extremely vague in its meaning and application. Ambiguity in this sense could be harmful to shippers when trying to prove the carrier’s negligence. Again the shipper will have to negotiate a well-defined and protective clause in their contracts with carriers.

NMF 100 Item 360-B Uniform Straight Bill of Lading Terms and Conditions Sec. 2

What Changed:

Previous version:…carrier is not bound to transport a shipment by a particular schedule or in time for a particular market, but is responsible to transport with reasonable dispatch.

Supplement 2:…carrier is not bound to transport a shipment by a particular schedule or in time for a particular market, but will transport the shipment in the regular course of its providing transportation services.

“Reasonable dispatch” has been the standard for a century. It has gone from a standard that could be applied across all carriers to a more carrier specific time frame. This is holding shippers captive to the carrier’s chosen standards. We already see carriers offering different transit times for different prices. This leads shippers to start questioning whether this could become a big enough issue that they will be forced to pay more for services to ensure their shipments are being delivered in an acceptable time frame. Shippers will need to be vigilant, the more regulations put on carriers, the more likely that delivery times will become longer.

NMF 100 Item 360-B Uniform Straight Bill of Lading Terms and Conditions Sec. 3 (b)

What Changed:

Previous version:…except that claims for failure to make delivery must be filed within nine months after a reasonable time for delivery has elapsed.

Supplement 2:Claims for loss must be filed with the carrier not more than nine (9) months from the date of the bill of lading.

There were a few wording changes that seemed less significant, i.e.: “failure to deliver” was changed to “loss.” However, there was a significant change made regarding the timeline for filing claims for loss. Previously, it was nine months from a reasonable delivery time frame; now it is “nine months from the date of the bill of lading.”

So shippers should be asking which bill of lading date is to be used. Is it the date the shipment was requested? Is it the date the bill of lading was created? Is it the date when the bill of lading was printed? Or is the bill of lading date the pickup date?

Who Will This Affect?

Virtually all major motor carriers in the US are participants to the NMFC, and freight charges based on rates dependent on classifications provided in the NMFC are required to use the Uniform Straight Bill of lading. The impact of the changes will impact most shippers and shipments [see NMF 100 Item 360-B Sec. 1 (a) and (b)]. If shippers so choose to use their own bill of lading, per NMF 100 Item 360-B Sec. 1(h), they are still bound to all of the provisions and conditions of the Uniform Straight Bill of Lading.

Since the Supplement Became Effective:

The Transportation & Logistics Council (TLC) filed a petition with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) for suspension and investigation of the Supplement on July 29th. The National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council (NASSTRAC) then filed a petition in support of TLC dated August 1st. The STB released their decision on August 12th. The STB denied the request and stated parties should file supplemental pleadings by September 12th. There is an open comments period and shippers are urged to comment in support of Docket Number IMA 35008. Comments can be sent to:

Chief, Section of Administration
Office of Proceedings
Surface Transportation Board
395 E. Street, SW
Washington, DC 20423

Source; AMTR Inc. http://www.amtr.com/

Lockout Tagout
What Does Oct 17, 2016 Mean to You?

October 17, 2017 is the deadline for Transport Canada’s Air Cargo Security (ACS) Program.

What is the ASC program?

It is a cargo security program that:

  • meets the highest aviation security standards;
  • reduces risks to the safety and security of the travelling public; and
  • keeps goods moving in and out of Canada efficiently.

Business must apply to participate in the program in order to screen, store, transport, tender or accept secured air cargo.

Companies must choose a category that best suits their role in the supply chain. These categories include:

  • Known Consignor – originates air cargo that has been made secure through a screening process applied at the time of packing.
  • Certified Agent – stores, transports and/or accepts cargo that an authorized Air Cargo Security Program participant has screened and made secure.
  • Regulated Agent – screens cargo on behalf of others to make it secure and subsequently stores and/or transports the secure cargo.
  • Account Consignor – originates cargo and has it screened by an authorized participant in the Air Cargo Security Program to make it secure.
  • Authorized Cargo Administrator – directs the movement of secure cargo without coming into contact with it (i.e., provides logistics services without screening, storing and/or transporting the secure cargo).

Participants must submit an application to Transport Canada which will be vetted, followed by an inspection and ongoing oversight.

It should be noted that this program is completely voluntary.

Initially, the program will be for passenger freight only, but is expected to expand to cargo freight in 2017/2018.

Starting on October 17, 2016, shippers should expect delays with passenger aircraft shipments. “Overnight” shipments may not be delivered the next day.

ICC Compliance Center is your source for supplies relating to air cargo security including security signs, security seals and tamper evident tape.

Can You Spot the Errors in This IATA Form?

Test your dangerous goods knowledge and see if you can find all 20 errors in this IATA Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods form. If you find this difficult, don’t be discouraged, we can help! We have a dedicated regulatory staff available to our customers. Call ICC today!


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USPS Regulations and Updates
United States Postal Service Publication 52

USPS Publication 52

When one ships hazardous materials one does not think of using the United States Post Office, because there are very few times that USPS will actually accept these materials. As listed in  18 U.S.C. 1716, “all matter that is outwardly or of its own force dangerous or injurious to life, health, or property is nonmailable”. However, some hazardous materials and otherwise restricted matter, or perishable matter are permitted to be mailed when the requirements in USPS Publication 52 are fully met.

USPS recently updated their hazardous materials regulations titled: Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail.

The United States Postal Service defines hazardous materials as follows:

A hazardous material is any article or substance designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation as being capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, or property during transportation. In international commerce, hazardous materials are known as “dangerous goods.”

If you are interested in using USPS to mail hazardous materials, Chapter 3, Appendix A and Appendix C provide information about hazardous materials that are permitted  by mail.

Lithium Batteries Explode (Again) on the Scene

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Recall is a Counterpoint to IATA Joint Petition

The announcement of a recall of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones due to a possible defect in the assembly of the batteries (remember that batteries are a collection of “cells”) followed a bit of online chatter on discussion groups a week or so ago. IATA, in concert with battery manufacturers, users, and shippers, sent a letter to various governments urging increased enforcement of the enhanced regulations in effect since April 1, 2016 (see previous Blogs for summaries of changes).

The gist of the letter is that the majority of problems in transport are caused by the “wilful disregard of the regulations by rogue manufacturers and shippers” that is leading to “overwhelming” pressure on airlines to stop carrying lithium batteries altogether. The industry position is that the development of “increasingly draconian regulation” will not significantly improve safety but will disadvantage the majority of law-abiding parties. The letter goes on to urge increased cooperative government enforcement and imposition of fines and, “where appropriate” incarceration as the solution to the issue.

The letter includes alleviation of “consumer safety issues” as a point in support of the petition, which no doubt is valid, but may not be as significant as “non-wilful” defects, carelessness, or ignorance of the regulations.

The preliminary report on the Galaxy Note 7 recall is available from “AppleInsider” »


Although only one aspect, the recent expansion of incident reporting in Canadian TDG Regulation Part 8.14, to include undeclared and misdeclared dangerous goods incidents with air cargo will assist in the ongoing effort to improve safety in transporting lithium batteries.

See Barbara’s Blog:

Transport Canada Amends TDG Reporting Requirements

Although the utility of enforcement- particularly at the source of counterfeit and wilfully supplied non-compliant batteries- may be underutilized, continued promotion of awareness of requirements to those not intimately involved in routine DG/Hazmat issues will be key to reducing incidents affecting public safety.

Accidents Can Happen at the Office!

The risk of accidents in an office are negligible … it usually results in very minor injuries and it’s not really worth it to be concerned …

If this is really what you think, there is an important perception problem. We would like to show here some dangerous situations where you will see that using common sense, will help to avoid injury and accidents. Security measures are to be respected both in the offices, on construction sites, or in plants.

Tripping Over a Cable

In addition to being dangerous, it can also be annoying … And all there is to do, is to simply fix the wire or the cable on the floor using adhesive tape or a wire floor guard.

Bumping or Tripping Over an Open Drawer

Often, we leave a file cabinet drawer opened mainly because we only need to use the document for a few seconds before putting it back. This is enough time to create a hazard. A very simple way to avoid this scenario is to close the drawer immediately after you get what you need from the file cabinet.

Hurting Your Back While Carrying a Heavy Object

Weight handling techniques should be used by both office and plant workers. In addition, the use of a dolly would be appropriate or ask help from a colleague.

Objects Landing on Your Head

Top of the cabinets are often used as a storage area. This reflects the image of a messy office area and it’s certainly not safe. Moreover, to reach items that are that high, why not use a stool or a bench that meets the safety standards?

Hitting Furniture

A better furniture arrangement could certainly help to avoid many bruises.

Electrocution or Burns

Occasionally, papers get stuck in the copier. There is risk of electric shock, burns, and cuts when you try to remove the paper sheets without following the proper safety instructions. By the way, have you read them?

OSHA Talks Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

My husband is a rocker. He loves heavy metal music and listens to it often. There is no better channel for him than “Hair Nation” on Sirius XM radio. Having grown up with him, I know he has attended every concert available including Bon Jovi, Ratt, Metallica, Poison, and the like. One of his best memories is seeing Motorhead perform while we were living in Austria. To this day he still goes to concerts, but now the bands include Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin. What is interesting is his approach to going to concerts now as compared to when he was younger. You guessed it. The biggest change is the use of ear plugs.

I’m not sure if this change is due to getting older or the fact that being in a safety role he now realizes how damaging the level of music at these concerts is to his hearing. (You can insert your own joke about men or women having “selective” hearing here.)

two workers wearing ear protection

Hear and Now – Noise Safety Challenge

In a recent press release OSHA indicated that every year 22 million workers risk losing their hearing due to workplace noise hazards. The estimated worker’s compensation costs for this disability is around $242 million. This is too high! Employers warn of hearing hazards in the workplace and often require workers to wear hearing protection. In a workplace the 8-hour time weighted average exposure level is 85 decibels. To put that in context, city traffic noise heard while inside a car is about 85 decibels. Normal conversation is around 60-65 decibels. A power saw and lawn mower are around 105-110 decibels. From a few websites I checked, ear pain and damage can begin as low as 125 decibels. For more information on noise and hearing conservation in general industry, I refer you to 29 CFR 1910.95.

To combat the issue and bring attention to it, OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued the “Hear and Now – Noise Safety Challenge”. The goal is to involve everyone in coming up with ideas and/or technology related to occupational hearing protection. Everyone is able to submit ideas. For more information or to submit ideas go to https://www.dol.gov/featured/hearing. Submissions are due by September 30th.

Workers: Do your part and wear the proper personal protection equipment (PPE) as outlined by your employer. Think about what you do at home and ask yourself if it will have an impact on your hearing.

Employers: Know the standard and your workplace. Contact ICC Compliance Center for all custom GHS and PPE signage. Consider utilizing our PPE webinar as part of your new worker training.

As always, ICC is here for all of your safety needs. Contact us today.

Hazmat Personal Protection Equipment
Drywall and Dust Exposure

Being a Home Owner Working in Safety

A part of being a homeowner is maintaining the structure and surrounding area. We do this to keep the city and neighbors happy, but also to keep the house in good working order. If you look around your neighborhood, yards are mowed and houses are painted. You will even see the occasional furniture delivery or roofer in the area. Another part of home ownership is keeping the inside up to date. After all indoor plumbing is nice and there is always the chance that the house will be sold in the future.

Our home is currently 16 years old and we’ve been in it for 8 years. It has not been updated much beyond some interior paint and a new roof thanks to St. Louis hail storms. We decided to update a bathroom. Easy enough given how small they are, right? It turns out we needed to gut the bathroom down to the studs since it was covered in wallpaper. During the demolition there was a ton of dust generated. Now that new drywall is up it has to be “mudded and sanded” which created even more dust. What was fascinating was the fact none of the folks working wore masks or respirators during any of this. Remember I work in safety so this bothered me greatly and sent me on a hunt for what exactly is out there regarding dry wall.

Drywall and Dust Exposure

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) actually issued a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) about dust exposures resulting from drywall sanding in 1999. A link to the document can be found here.

What exactly are the hazards of drywall dust? NIOSH reports that some drywall joint compounds are made from ingredients including talc, silica, and gypsum which in dust form can irritate a person’s eyes, nose and respiratory airways. Long-term exposure to these chemicals can cause various health problems including persistent irritation, coughing, asthma-like symptoms and even lung cancer. Because of these hazards there are Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) in place for worker safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists an 8-hour time weighted average exposure limit of 15 mg/m3 for total dust exposure to Particulates Not Otherwise Regulated (PNOR) and a respirable dust exposure limit of 5 mg/m3. From the study NIOSH did to compile their HHE, it was found that some workers’ exposure equates to more than ten times those limits.

Manufacturers are warning workers on their safety data sheets of the hazards of drywall dust and list appropriate personal protective equipment and ventilation on their safety data sheets. Some even suggested alternatives to dry sanding to cut down on the dust produced including wet sanding and portable vacuum systems. However, these are not followed or used as noticed by my own experience. According to the HHE, “When respiratory protection is worn, it is often used incorrectly with little thought to training, proper selection, or fit.” As a safety person this baffles me.

Given the work on my bathroom is not complete and with the knowledge I now have, guess who will have the gift of dust masks when work begins again? Yep, if the folks in my home won’t bring the necessary items to be safe, I’ll be supplying them along with a note to the “Big Boss” about my concerns.

As always, ICC is here for all of your safety needs. Contact us today for a plant audit or our 10 and 30-Hour General Industrial Trainings.