Reverse Logistics: When the Shipper Becomes the Receiver

PHMSA is submitting a Notice of Proposed Rule-Making (NPRM) to revise the Hazardous Materials Regulations applicable to return shipments of certain hazardous materials. By creating an exception from existing regulations for certain reverse logistics shipments, this NPRM offers opportunities for reduced compliance costs among hazmat shippers and carriers, without sacrificing safety. PHSMA proposes to establish a new section in the regulations to provide an exception for materials that are transported in a manner that meets the definition of “reverse logistics.”

The proposed definition of Reverse Logistics is:

… the process of moving goods from their final destination for the purpose of capturing value, recall, replacement, proper disposal, or similar reasons.

In addition to defining reverse logistics PHMSA is also trying to:

  • Establish regulations for the shipment of hazardous material in the reverse logistics supply chain
  • Establish clear applicability to the training requirements associated with “reverse logistics” shipments
  • Provide authorized packaging for reverse logistics shipments
  • Establish segregation requirements for reverse logistics shipments
  • Allow more flexibility for the transportation of lead acid batteries to recycling facilities

When goods are transferred from a manufacturer to a user, we call this downstream. Many hands change in-between before it lands in your own hands.  For example, Paint is manufactured at a plant, sent to a store, where it is purchased and often used by you-the downstream user. Careful thought and vast amounts of resources and dollars are set in motion Continue Reading…

PHMSA Issues a “No Pay-No Play” Regarding Civil Penalties

On August 7, 2014 DOT Secretary of Transportation announced regulations to require a person who is delinquent in paying civil penalties to cease any activity regulated under the Hazmat Law until payment has been made in full or until an acceptable payment plan has been arranged. PHMSA believes that persons who fail to comply with the Hazmat Law and fail to pay civil penalties are not fit to transport hazardous materials, as they are more likely to jeopardize public safety and/or the environment. The ruling does not apply to those filed under Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

A summary of the rule is as follows:

Under the provisions of this final rule, the agency that issued the final order outlining the terms and outcome of an enforcement action will send the respondent a Cessation of Operations Order (COO) if payment has not been received within 45 calendar days after the payment due date or a payment plan installment date as specified in the final order. The COO would notify the respondent that it must cease hazardous materials operations on the 91st calendar day after failing to make payment in accordance with the agency’s final order or payment plan arrangement, unless payment is made. A respondent will be allowed to appeal the COO within 20 days of receipt of the order according to the procedures set forth by the agency issuing Continue Reading…

PHMSA Modifies HMR Lithium Battery Provision

PHMSA modifies HMR Lithium Battery Provision — Harmonizing with UN Model Regulations, IATA, and IMDG Provisions

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued a final rule establishing new standards for air cargo shipments of various types of lithium batteries, including packaging requirements and safeguards for power cells that have been damaged or are headed for recycling.

PHMSA, in conjunction with the FAA, is modifying the HMR regarding the transportation of lithium batteries. These changes with help to ensure that battery shipments are able to withstand transport conditions and are packaged properly to reduce the possibility of damage while in transit.

The intent of the rule making is to strengthen the current regulatory framework by imposing more effective safeguards, including design testing to address risks related to internal short circuits, and enhanced packaging, hazard communication, and operational measures for various types and sizes of lithium batteries in specific transportation contexts. The rulemaking would respond to several recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The final rule is expected be published in the Federal Register sometime in the next 10 business days. According to DOT, voluntary compliance is encouraged when the final rule is published, but compliance is mandatory beginning six months after publication, around in February, 2015.

The final rule will:

  • Enhance packaging and hazard communication requirements for lithium batteries transported by air
  • Replace equivalent lithium content with Continue Reading…
DOT Issues NPRM for Crude Oil and Flammable Materials in Rail Cars

The U.S. Department of Transportation released the details of its comprehensive rule making proposal to improve the safe transportation of large quantities of flammable materials by
rail — particularly crude oil and ethanol — in the form of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).

The NPRM proposes enhanced tank car standards, a classification and testing program for mined gases and liquids and new operational requirements for high-hazard flammable trains (HHFT) that include braking controls and speed restrictions.

Specifically, within two years, it proposes the phase out of the use of older DOT 111 tank cars for the shipment of packing group I flammable liquids, including most Bakken crude oil, unless the tank cars are retrofitted to comply with new tank car design standards.

These changes stem from the apparent volatile nature of oil coming out of the Bakken Formation in Western North Dakota. The crude is thought to contain high levels of methane and propane that make the oil more flammable than originally classified. The various amounts of gases included in crude oils varies, which makes it difficult to classify individual loads in rail cars. Following accidents in Quebec, North Dakota, and other states involving Bakken crude shipments, the DOT has singled it out as particularly dangerous, paving the way to change classification rules, alter tank car specifications and requirements, and shipping logistics involving crude oil from that region.

The changes Continue Reading…

HMR Aligns with 2009 International Atomic Energy Agency’s Safe Transport of Radioactive Material

PHMSA is making changes to the DOT 49 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations, aligning with the 2009 IAEA standards involving the safe transportation of radioactive material (Safety Requirements, No. TS-R-1). These changes are set forth to ensure public safety aligns with global regulations regarding classification, packaging and hazard communication of Class 7 material. International regulations for the transport of radioactive material have been published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 1961.

These regulations have been widely adopted into national regulations, as well as into modal regulations, such as the 49 CFR, IATA and IMDG. Regulatory control of shipments of radioactive material is independent of the material’s intended application.

The objective of the regulations is to protect people and the environment from the effects of radiation during the transport of radioactive material.

Protection is achieved by:

  • containment of radioactive contents;
  • control of external radiation levels;
  • prevention of criticality; and
  • prevention of damage caused by heat.

The fundamental principle applied to the transport of radioactive material is that the protection comes from the design of the package, regardless of how the material is transported. In the USA one percent of the 300 million packages of hazardous material shipped each year contain radioactive materials. Of this, about 250,000 contain radioactive wastes from US nuclear power plants, and 25 to 100 packages contain used nuclear fuel. DOT (PHMSA) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) jointly regulate the safe transportation of Class 7 Continue Reading…

OSHA Revises Electrical Standards

On April 1, 2014, OSHA announced a forthcoming rule change on electrical safety requirements. Specifically, the changes are for: Power Generation, transmission, and distribution and protective equipment.

“This long-overdue update will save nearly 20 lives and prevent 118 serious injuries annually,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Electric utilities, electrical contractors and labor organizations have persistently championed these much-needed measures to better protect the men and women who work on or near electrical power lines.”

OSHA is revising the 40-year old Construction Standard to align it with the current General Industry standards. There are many different definitions under each standard, yet there is enough overlap to ensure the same regulations apply to the same working situation. Along with the merging of some existing rules, OSHA has revised some existing ones including Fall Protection, Minimum Approach Distances and Arc-Flash protection.

On June 20, 2014, OSHA issued it’s “Temporary Citation Policy” that will become effective July 10, 2014 and continue through October 31, 2014.

Temporary citation areas includes:

  • 29 CFR 1910.137(b) – Design requirements for other types of electrical protective equipment (General Industry);
  • 29 CFR 1910.269 – Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution installations (General Industry);
  • 29 CFR 1926.97(b) – Design requirements for other types of electrical protective equipment (Construction); and
  • 29 CFR 1926 Subpart V – Power Transmission and Distribution (Construction).

Enforcement on these regulations is being delayed until October 31, 2014, allowing about a Continue Reading…

How to Beat the Heat – (Not Just for SPURS Fans)

If you work outdoors or are exposed to extreme heat you could be at risk for heat stress. Everybody can handle a little stress, but too much stress, in regards to heated working environments, can quickly turn into much more serious conditions such as, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, rashes, and dehydration. Prevention of heat stress in workers is important. Recognition of potential elevated temperatures in the working environment is the responsibility of both employer and employee.

It doesn’t have to be really hot outside for heat stress to occur. Losing the opportunity to periodically cool down, rehydrate and rest allows the body’s temperature to keep rising. A person can get heat stress even when working in 70 degree weather. Air circulation, hydration, and frequent rest periods (or lack of all three) have the ability to amplify or diminish heat related symptoms. Employers should provide training to workers so they understand what heat stress is, how it affects their health and safety, and how it can be prevented.

Each year organizations like OSHA, and CDC publish warnings and potential health risks regarding the upcoming seasons. Below is the annual refresher on heat stress types and management provided by the CDC. Stay cool!


Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related disorder. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the Continue Reading…

Did You Miss the First GHS Deadline? It’s Not Too Late!

OHSA implemented GHS as part of its Hazard Communication System (29 CR 1910.1200) back in March of 2012. The full conversion is not until June 2016, but there is a phase in process that you should already be aware of. The first deadline set by OHSA was December 1, 2013. This was sort of a basic-training for employees to learn what information is on GHS labels, SDS sheets and how to recognize the new pictograms. Imagine opening the back of a truck, ready to unload its contents into your facility and you see these strange labels on your drums. These are MY drums aren’t they? They have strange looking labels on them, with familiar but slightly different pictograms, along with a few new ones. You reach for the MSDS to see just what the heck you are looking at, only to find something called a SDS. Hey, what happened to the “M”? Wow, there is a lot of information on this SDS. Quit looking for the “M” and Behold! The future.

Learning a new language can sometime s be difficult, but understanding GHS is not. The first training deadline was just a fair warning, saying “Hey! I’m here, and this is what I look like. Oh, and by the way, you are going be seeing a lot more of my kind in the future” That’s right. Did I mention, it the law? Yes, this short introductory training is required. This Continue Reading…

Be Safe This Summer . . . and Somebody Wake Up Larry!

As summer approaches and you consider hiring extra hands, make sure those hands are trained. The kind of hands I am referring to are those that are weary from holding textbooks. Kids out of school are going to be looking for summer jobs. Ah, Summer. Summer means cutting the grass, lighting up the grill, the smell of a sunscreen and mosquito repellant cocktail, weeding the garden, and setting off fireworks. Whether they run a cash register, or clean hotel rooms, proper training is needed. People often think of training as learning to do something “right”, but doing it right also means doing it “safely”. Loss of life is supposed to come before loss of profit, isn’t it? Let’s make sure these kids come back next summer. Training is important, especially if those hands you hire will be operating machinery or certain tools. Often, this training could involve the use of certain tools such as copy machines, drills, shovels, saws, espresso machines or a deep fryer. Don’t expect someone to walk, right in, and assume they know what they are doing.  It’s not only a bad business decision, but it’s often dangerous.

Students are the backbone of the summer workforce. Restaurants, amusement parks, and so many other businesses depend on them lending a hand to their increased clientele, during the summer months. They are eager to make some extra cash, so they can eat, fill their Continue Reading…

OSHA’s Stand-Down: A Midterm Exam

Stand down, as in Whoa, Nelly! OSHA is asking everyone stop the press, step back and to briefly revisit fall protection and prevention in the workplace. More than 1/3 of all deaths on the construction site can be attributed to falls. OSHA has set the dates June 2-4, 2014 as a National Safety Stand-Down under its Fall Prevention campaign which aims to raise awareness and communication between employers and employees regarding falls from ladders, scaffolding and roofs. It’s a voluntary campaign and well worth the effort.

So, sit down, grab a cup of Joe and let’s chew the fat. Call it a “coffee break” if you want, just take a few moments to re-focus, remind and re-assess safety. As you attempt to get your coffee just the right color, we can discuss the Plan, Provide, and Train initiative. OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA)’s version of kryptonite for fall hazards. The 3-Step information sharing process consists of:

PLAN ahead to get the job done safely

PROVIDE the right equipment

TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely

Think of this as a mid-term exam, or formative assessment. Formative assessments are like having lots of little exams every month, assessing your knowledge, progress and comprehension as you move along- not waiting until the end of the term only to find out you turned left when you should have Continue Reading…