Anatomy of an ERG

Emergency Response Guidebook

Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG)

The North American Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) is a tool developed by the US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Transport Canada, and the Secretaria de Comunicaiones Y Transportes (SCT).

Every 4 years, millions of copies are distributed, free of charge to firefighters and other emergency personnel. The purpose is to provide guidance to first responders during the initial phase of a transport incident involving dangerous goods.

There are Six Sections in the ERG

The white pages are informational. They contain the guidance and explanation on the following:

  • A flow chart provides information on how to use the Guide.
  • Basic safety information for use when responding
  • Hazard classification system
  • Rail car identification
  • Introduction to GHS pictograms
  • International Identification numbers
  • Hazard Identification numbers
  • Pipeline transportation, including pipeline markers

The Yellow Pages are chemicals listed by UN number. The responder would find the chemical by UN number, then follow orange and green pages accordingly. This section is also a handy tool to look up chemical names when you only have the UN number, without having to pull out a 49 CFR!

The Blue Pages are chemicals listed by chemical name. The responder would find the chemical by name, then go to the orange and green pages for instructions. This section is also a handy tool to look up UN numbers when you only have the chemical name, without having to pull out a 49 CFR!

The Orange Pages are the Guides. These Guides provide information to the emergency responder on Health, Fire, Public Safety, Protective Clothing and Evacuation, Spill or Leak and First Aid. In the workplace, the safety data sheet should be the first place to look up this information, but the ERG will do in a pinch.

The Green Pages provide information regarding initial isolation and protective action distances for both small and large spills. In other words, how far should we stay away or evacuate the area.

The final section contains another set of White Pages. These pages provide additional information and guidance including, spill procedures, protective clothing, and a glossary.

The North American ERG is a must have, whether you are an emergency responder, truck driver, or a shipper. Accidents happen, big and small, and the ERG can help you during response and clean up.

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