PHMSA Civil Penalties Increase 2019

Effective July 31, 2019 the fines for civil penalties within the Department of Transportation are increased.  This increase impacts the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Pipeline of Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

The fines are increased as a result of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.  This happens every year, so you would think it would have an abbreviation at this point.  This act basically requires federal agencies to adjust civil penalties each year to account for inflation.  A list of the increases for 49CFR is shown below.  These are found in 49CFR Part 107. A definition for “Penalties of non-compliance” is found in 171.1.  To see the full ruling with the changes to the other agencies, go here

PHMSA Adjustments:

  • Maximum penalty for a hazardous materials violation is $81,1993.
  • Maximum penalty for hazardous materials violation that results in death, serious illness, or severe injury to any person or substantial destruction of property is $191,316
  • Minimum penalty for hazardous materials training violations is $493.   
  • Maximum penalty for each pipeline safety violation is $218,647
  • Maximum penalty for a related series of pipeline safety violations is $2,186,465
  • Maximum penalty for liquefied natural gas pipeline safety violation $79,875
  • Maximum penalty for discrimination against employees providing pipeline safety information = $1,270

Keep in mind Continue Reading…

PHMSA Announces Public Meeting to Solicit Input for 2020 Emergency Response Guidebook

On May 7, 2019, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration announced there will be a public meeting scheduled for June 17, 2019 to solicit input on the development of the 2020 edition of the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG). During the June 17 meeting, PHMSA will discuss different ways to determine the appropriate response protective distances for poisonous vapors resulting from spills involving dangerous goods considered toxic by inhalation in the “green pages” of the 2016 ERG. PHMSA will also discuss new methodologies and considerations for future editions of the ERG and outcomes of field experiments including ongoing research to better understand environmental effects on airborne toxic gas concentrations and other updates that will be published in the 2020 ERG. The 2020 ERG will be published in English, French, and Spanish and will increase public safety by improving emergency response procedures for hazardous material incidents across North America. For more information on how to be a part of the public meeting visit the link below:

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/05/07/2019-09299/hazardous-materials-public-meeting-notice-for-the-2020-emergency-response-guidebook-erg2020

PHMSA first published the ERG Guidebook in 1973 for use by emergency services personnel to provide guidance for first responders during the critical first 30 minutes of hazardous materials transportation incidents. Since 1980, PHMSA’s goal has been to provide free access of the ERG to all public emergency response personnel including fire-fighters, police, and rescue squads. PHMSA has distributed more than 14.5 Continue Reading…

Transport Canada Launches Video: Responding to Rail-Car Incidents Involving Flammable Liquids

When a train carrying flammable liquids is involved in an incident, first responders are often the first on scene. These types of incidents are not typical for first responders. They require a unique approach. And for that reason, Transport Canada has put out a video on how to respond to rail-car incidents that involve flammable liquids. Below are the factors and steps from the video when dealing with these types of incidents.

Situation:

A Rail Car is involved in an accident and a fire starts on impact.  The rail car is properly placarded with the appropriate class 3 flammable Placard. Below are the factors that can influence the fire as well as steps and tools to utilize during the incident. 

Factors:

Whether it’s Gasoline, Diesel, Ethanol, Crude oil, or bitumen, knowing the properties of each is important to first responders because all can behave differently under spill and fire conditions.  This is where the importance of proper placarding will come into play as first responders can detect exactly what type of flammable substances are on the train based on the UN number.   Below are important factors of flammable substances that would help first responders determine the proper course of action:

Viscosity- Gives an indication on how fast the fire can spread.

Density- Will determine if substance will sink or float if it is near a body of water.

Flashpoint- Tells how easily the Continue Reading…

International World Day for Safety and Health at Work

The International Labour Organization (ILO) was created in 1919.  It is a United Nation’s agency that sets standards, policies and programs for the work force.  Comprised of workers, employers and governments the main goals are to “promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues.”  Each branch, if you will, has equal footing in regards to what programs and actions are implemented.  

Starting in 2003, the ILO started “International Worker’s Memorial Day” as a way to bring awareness to workers and the workplace including accidents, diseases, safety and health.  It has evolved into the “International World Day for Safety and Health at Work” and is celebrated every year on April 28.  This date also coincides with the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers. 

Since the ILO is celebrating 100 years of existence in 2019, they are looking back at what the past 100 years and using that experience to look at the current and future workplace.  The theme to this year’s event is “A Safe and Healthy Future of Work: Building on 100 Years of Experience”.  There is a fantastic video on the ILO site found here that focuses on this year’s theme.  The longer report covers the changes to the workforce overtime and what are some of the upcoming changes.  The numbers in it are staggering when viewed from a global perspective.  It is well worth the read and is free to download.

Thinking about how Continue Reading…

TDG “INTERNATIONAL HARMONIZATION UPDATE” (IHU) CONSULTATION

IHU 2019 Proposed Amendment: Pre-Gazette I Consultation

In late March, Transport Canada posted a notice on their public website regarding a pre-Gazette I consultation on proposed amendments to the TDGR. The consultation was distributed to selected stakeholders by email on March 4.

This proposal is the latest in a series of international harmonization updates (“IHU”) to incorporate changes to reflect the current editions of the UN Model Regulations (UN Recommendations), ICAO Technical Instructions for air, and the IMDG Code for ocean shipment. In addition, the Canada-US Regulatory Cooperation Council work planning effort has suggested several items that would facilitate reciprocity in shipping dangerous goods between the two countries.

UN Recommendations

  • Updating to 20th edition and preparation for 21st edition.
  • Incorporate packaging updates by adopting 3rd edition TP14850 (pending repatriation to CGSB as standard CGSB-43.150-xx), normalize EC-allowed practices on batteries; allow UN3175 in FIBC 13H3 & 13H4.
  • Marking/Labeling: text on labels, banana labels on cylinders, require orientation arrows for liquids, marine pollutant, and Lithium Battery Mark on overpacks.
  • Language issues under review, include determining the options on the use of either or both English/French and circumstances when a different second language might appear (i.e. foreign sourced material).

Placarding

  • Consider adding provisions for optional hazard class text on placards – see also marking/labeling.
  • Allow US placards for re-shipping road/rail within Canada. In addition to text issues, this would allow re-shipping with US Continue Reading…
USPS Regulations and Updates
New USPS Mailing Standards for Mailpieces Containing Liquids and How ICC Can Help

The US Postal Service is taking a positive step to improve the safety of liquid packaging shipments. This step is significant, as the industry will begin to incorporate some components of UN 4GV combination packaging requirements among a wide variety of changes soon to be implemented. Here at ICC, we help you understand what these changes are and provide the solutions that ensure you meet these new stringent requirements.

Why Change?

The Postal Service has observed that a significant percentage of liquid spills results from mailers misinterpreting the existing packaging requirements for liquids, thinking their non-metal containers are not breakable. However, non-metal containers (i.e., plastic, glass, earthenware, etc.) are often the source of liquid spills in Postal Service networks. As a result, on July 9th of 2018, the US Postal Service proposed a new rulemaking on standards for mail pieces containing liquids. There was a comment period requesting public feedback on the proposed rules until September 18, 2018.

The proposed rule addressed two components:

  1. Clarification of existing language that specified packaging and markings for mail pieces that contain liquids in containers greater than 4 fluid ounces; and
  2. Extending the triple-packaging requirement for breakable primary containers with 4 ounces or less.

What are the Changes and the Compliance Solutions?

Effective on March 28, 2019, the adopted changes published in the final rule include:

railroad crossing
PHMSA UPDATE: New Safety Rule to Strengthen Oil Train Spill Response Preparedness

Much like Sheryl Crow sang, “A change, could do you good”, at least one would hope. When it comes to PHMSA, change is aimed at improving an already existing process, or adding a new process we can all benefit from. So in this case, I believe Sheryl Crow is right.

With that being said, The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), recently issued a final rule that requires railroads to create and submit Comprehensive Oil Spill Response Plans for route segments traveled by High Hazard Flammable Trains also called HHFTs. The rule applies to these trains that are transporting petroleum oil in a block of 20 or more loaded tank cars and trains that have a total of 35 loaded petroleum oil tank cars.

Why the Change?

Incidents involving crude oil can have devastating consequences to local communities and the environment. Countering these effects on the environment can take between a few weeks to many years, depending on the damage caused. For this reason, fast and effective response is essential to rail accidents containing oil. The 174-page final rule is designed to improve the response readiness and decrease the effects of rail accidents and incidents involving petroleum oil and a flammable train. The agency said the rule also is needed due to expansion in U.S. energy production having led to “significant challenges for the Continue Reading…

Skull and Cross Bones
National Poison Prevention Week

The main part of my job is to train companies, workers, handlers, and the like on how to manage hazardous materials or hazardous chemicals safely. This can be done under the umbrella of the transport regulations of 49CFR, IATA, and IMDG, or under the OSHA HazCom standard. However, not everyone is going to take one of my courses. Sad, but true.

Granted all of those folks do their jobs well and use marks, labels, placards, and safety data sheets to convey information about their products to other users. But it begs the question, how is the general public made aware of the “other” dangers or poisons out there? Think about the laundry pod scare recently to make my point.

Back in 1962, the first-ever National Poison Prevention Week was announced. In 2019, the week will be from March 17-23. Supported directly by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), the goal is to promote safety tips and the emergency services provided by the Poison Control Centers in the US.

To emphasize just how important Poison Control Centers are, take a look at some numbers from 2016 taken directly from the AAPCC website at www.aapcc.org.

  • There were 2,700,000 cases managed by the centers.
  • Someone called the centers every 14 minutes.
  • Over $1,800,000,000 saved in medicals costs.

For this year’s event, people are encouraged to use the hashtags #NPPW19, #PreventPoison, and #PoisonHelp. Continue Reading…

Lithium
49CFR Trying to Catch Up for Lithium Batteries

Lithium Batteries, Laptop battery
Every year at this time training is busy at ICC. It happens for various reasons. The one that causes it most often is companies are due. As we know each transport regulation has a training requirement to it. Many decide to do all transport training at one time which is great.

Here’s the rub though. To me, 49CFR is always just a few steps behind all of the other transport regulations. I get the whole rulemaking process but it is frustrating to constantly have to explain or mention times when the US ground regulations don’t align with other international ones. When you add lithium batteries to the mix, it just complicates things even more.

For once, efforts are being made to catch up with all of the other regulations. On Wednesday, February 27, the Department of Transportation published HM-224I which is an Interim Final Rule (IFR) centered around transporting lithium batteries. Take note, this is a final rule with no advanced notice and was not open to comment. Comments will still be accepted and reviewed which could cause amendments later on but for now, this is what is required. DOT believes this IFR was “necessary to address an immediate safety hazard” presented when shipping lithium batteries.

So, what changes did this IFR bring in to the regulations? Let’s take a look.

HM-224I: Enhanced Safety Provisions for Lithium Batteries

New Dangerous Goods Fees to Go in Effect for Amazon

Last month I wrote a blog regarding penalty fees Amazon was looking to implement for packages that fail to comply with safety requirements when shipping dangerous goods. Amazon ultimately decided to take this a step further adding storage, and fulfillment fees for products they deem asdangerous goods. 

Who does this affect?

For sellers that utilize Amazon’s FBA program (Fulfillment By Amazon) in which third-party sellers send their goods to be stored, picked, packed, and shipped in Amazon warehouses before they are sold on Amazon, some of the new fees will go into effect on February 19, 2019, according to a note on Amazon’s forum for sellers.

Specifically, Amazon announced that it will be introducing a new fee for “dangerous” items like aerosol cans, and lithium-ion batteries that sellers send to Amazon warehouses. The fees will be higher than the regular fees Amazon charges for using Fulfillment By Amazon.

What are the fees?

The table below shows the new monthly inventory storage fees for dangerous goods containing flammable or pressurized aerosol substances. This change will first be reflected in April 2019 charges for storage that occurs in March 2019.

Storage Month Standard Size Oversize
January – September $0.99 per cubic foot $0.78 per cubic foot
October – December $3.63 per cubic foot $2.43 per cubic foot

Other fees include an introduction of separate fulfillment fees for dangerous goods that contain flammable or pressurized aerosol substances, and items that contain lithium-ion batteries.

Too see Continue Reading…