railroad crossing
AAR Publishes New Edition of “Field Guide to Tank Cars”

Field guide to tank cars

AAR’s Field Guide to Tank Cars Download

Are you a birdwatcher who’s spotted every owl and thrush, and wants to move on to a new field of study? Are you a model train hobbyist who wants to make sure your HO scale equipment accurately reflects modern regulations? Or are you a safety professional who deals with bulk dangerous goods in tank cars? If your answer to any of those questions is “yes,” the American Association of Railways (AAR) has published something that will make identifying a TC-111A100W5 or DOT-117R100W as easy as telling a Mourning Warbler from a Laughing Gull.

AAR’s Field Guide to Tank Cars, by Andy Elkins, is a resource for rail workers and particularly for emergency responders. Tank cars come in many varieties, and handling them safely or responding to spills means that you must know what type of car is involved. The Field Guide has been updated for its third edition to reflect current regulations and standards, which have changed over the past decade due to incidents such as the Lac-Mégantic explosion in Quebec.

Types of Tank Cars

The Field Guide starts with a discussion of the basic types of tank cars – non-pressurized tank cars (also known as “general service” or “low-pressure” cars), pressure tank cars for products such as liquid propane and cryogenic liquid tank cars, used for gases that are liquefied at low Continue Reading…

ICC Trade Shows and Events
ICC Speakers Present at Dangerous Goods Conference

Trade Shows and Events

2nd Dangerous Goods Conference

On April 28, 2017, IDC Technologies held their second Dangerous Goods Conference in Mississauga, Ontario. Two of our regulatory staff from ICC were among the presenters during a day of informative sessions that covered transportation, environmental, and safety aspects of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDG).

ICC Regulatory Consultant Clifton Brown presented his study of the effect the current lithium battery regulations are having on air safety, with a look over the history of accidents involving these batteries since they were first introduced in the early 1990s. Clifton did a lot of sifting through reports from government and industry sources to conclude that the regulations on lithium batteries have a way to go to make them a negligible hazard. Perhaps by the time they are, we’ll have invented safer methods of energy storage.

Clifton Brown and Barbara Foster at DGC 2017
Clifton Brown and Barbara Foster at DGC 2017

I presented an overview of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) changes to health and safety regulations, and whether the GHS Purple Book has achieved worthwhile harmonization in the same way as the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (the Orange Book). Unfortunately, we’ll have to deal with a lot of disharmonization remaining in the short term (such as the differences on dealing with environmental hazards between North America and Europe). However, the Orange Book has, slowly but surely, led regulators Continue Reading…

OSHA Safety
Compliance Language

Current Dangerous Goods Regulations

Terminology in Regulatory Manuals

Language, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the formal system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings. Learning a new language is often a complex undertaking. It is also a time that lends itself to funny stories. While living in Austria for a few years taking German lessons was part of our visa process. We were encouraged to practice often. On one of my first attempts was to buy a certain pretzel. Somehow my request came out as asking for the “slow one” rather than the “long one”. My husband told a co-worker he “believed” he was a pencil. While neither request caused harm, it was confusing to the German speakers who heard us. I mention this because the language of transport regulations can be confusing as well until you have a good handle on the language used in them.

Let’s take a look at two simple words. We will compare their “everyday” usage with how they are used for transporting hazardous materials or dangerous goods. The two words will be “should” and “may”.

Word #1: Should

In normal usage, this word indicates certain obligations or expectations. Take for example the statement, “John should be ready by now.” By using the word “should” in the sentence, the expectation is that John is ready or prepared for whatever situation he finds himself. In Continue Reading…

Packaging Infectious Substances

Infectious Substances Packaging

What Are Infectious Substances?

Infectious Substances are defined as substances which are known or are reasonably expected to contain pathogens, or micro-organisms including bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi which can cause disease in humans or animals. Section 1.4 TDG, IATA 3.6.2.1.1. They are split up into two separate categories. Category A which is capable of causing permanent disability, life-threating or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals. Category A infectious substances are either assigned UN2814 or UN2900 and are class 6.2. IATA 3.6.2.2. Category B substances are any other infectious substances that do not meet the criteria for inclusion of Category A. They are assigned the UN number 3373.

Packaging Infectious Substances

For Category A substances, Infectous Substances Affecting Humans or Animals Only, strict performance criteria should be met on the packaging including drop testing, puncture testing, a pressure testing, and a stacking test. The configuring is often referred to as the triple packaging system. When packaging Category A substances, you must start out with a leak-proof primary receptacle. If the substances are shipped at room temperature or higher, these receptacles must be made of glass, metal, or plastic. The primary receptacles must then be placed into a leak-proof secondary packaging, either wrapped individually or separated to prevent any contact.

Both the primary and secondary packaging must be able to withstand an internal pressure of at least 95 kPa. If Continue Reading…

Single Packaging
5 Common Mistakes When Shipping Dangerous Goods

Man preparing shipment

With the amount of hazardous materials being transported every day, It is no surprise that dangerous goods shippers may struggle to be compliant. Whether it is a misinterpretation of the regulations, or not knowing that a specific regulation exists, the end result is the same, fines and endangering the safety of others. Below are some common mistakes when shipping dangerous goods.

1. Failure to Use UN Specification Packaging:

Shipping dangerous goods isn’t as easy as throwing it in a box and taping it closed. Depending on the specific hazardous substance, there are regulations in place that tell us what type of packaging is acceptable. These regulations will also tell us if the hazardous substance requires UN Specification packaging or not, depending on the quantity. Your best bet would be to always err on the side of caution when packaging dangerous goods and make sure your understanding of the regulations is correct.

49 CFR 173.24, Subsection 5.12(1) of the TDG Regulations.

2. Improper Marking and Labeling of Packages in Shipment:

The exact violation will differ with each shipment, however, whatever the violation is they all have one thing in common: a misunderstanding of the Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR) and how they apply to the hazardous materials you are shipping. It is the responsibility of the shipper to ensure the package is marked and labeled correctly. Section 4.10 of the TDG regulations, 172.400 Continue Reading…

Placarding
Is a Placard Required?

Placards on a truck

Answers from the Helpdesk

Placarding is one of the more complicated areas of the hazardous materials regulations. There are so many variables and exceptions, no wonder it becomes confusing.

Let’s practice using a real helpdesk question.

What placards are required for each shipment (49 CFR or TDG)? Write down your answer before scrolling down to read the answer.

SHIPMENT 1: 

9000 LBS (4082 KG) CORROSIVE UN1719, (ALL NON-BULK PACKAGING)

 SHIPMENT 2: 

(ALL NON-BULK PACKAGING)

9000 LBS (4082 KG) CORROSIVE UN1719
1500 LBS (680 KG) CORROSIVE UN1791

1500 LBS (680 KG) CORROSIVE UN3264
1500 LBS (680 KG) CORROSIVE UN3265

 SHIPMENT 3: 

(ALL NON-BULK PACKAGING)

200 LBS (91 KG) CORROSIVE UN1719
200 LBS (91 KG) CORROSIVE UN1791,

200 LBS (91 KG) CORROSIVE UN3264
200 (91 KG) LBS CORROSIVE, UN3265

Click here to see the 49 CFR answers »
Click here to see the TDGR answers »

49 CFR Regulations

The placarding requirements are found in Part 172.500 of the Hazardous Materials Regulations. The general rule is going to be:

If in bulk, you always need a placard.

If non-bulk, then it depends on if the hazard class is in Table 1 or 2, and the amount that is being shipped.

Also, in most cases, 4 placards are required, one on each side and one on each end.

When shipping in bulk, a UN number is required on the placard. You will find this referenced in the marking section Part 172.331.

(a) Each person who offers a hazardous material to a motor carrier for transportation Continue Reading…

Oil drum spill
What to Do – Accidents/Incidents Involving Dangerous Goods

Hazmat Incident

Unfortunately, Accidents Do Happen

Dangerous goods, necessary for Canadians’ quality of life, are transported from one area to another across the country every day. These goods, which travel by road, air, rail, and sea, leave Canada by the same routes, railway stations, airports, and ports. All these displacements increase the risk of incidents harmful to human beings and the environment. Therefore, it is essential that manufacturers, shippers, carriers, terminal operators, users, and governments strive to minimize the risk of incidents and the damage they can cause.

Approximately 30 million shipments of dangerous goods are shipped annually in Canada, and 99.998% of them travel to destinations without any incident!

When a dangerous goods incident occurs, the person in possession of the dangerous goods at the time of the incident must call the relevant competent authority (usually the local police, or call CANUTEC at *666 / 613-996-6666 / 1-888-CANUTEC, or call the 24-hour number that appears on the transport document or in the case of an ERAP call that activation number).

When first responders arrive at the scene of an accident involving dangerous goods, they will consult the Emergency Response Guide (ERG). They may also contact CANUTEC for assistance.

CANUTEC is Transport Canada’s Canadian Transport Emergency Center where bilingual scientists are always ready to answer. They are trained in emergency response and are ready to assist when an accident happens involving dangerous goods. Continue Reading…

Shipping by Road
TDGR US Import Cross-Docking – All We Want are the FAQs…*

Cross-Docking is Reshipping

On February 8 Transport Canada issued an addition to FAQ regarding the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR) Part 9, s. 9.4. This section deals with the re-shipping of dangerous goods (DG) received by road from the US when safety marks differ from those specified in the TDGR. In general, (more on this later**), TDGR 9.1 allows receipt of US shipments to first destination with the safety marks that were legally applied under 49 CFR at the US shipping point.

Cross-Docking

The FAQ defines “cross-docking” as “the process of transferring dangerous goods from one vehicle to another before reaching their final destination”. Changing drivers or tractor units does not trigger the term. When DG are cross-docked, Transport Canada considers this to be “re-shipping” and the provisions of TDGR 9.4 apply (note: although the FAQ refers to “reshipping” in quotes, the term is not specifically defined in the TDGR other than as described by s. 9.4).

Reshipping

Basically, the requirements in s. 9.4 are to remove placards which do not meet TDGR requirements and replace them with TDGR-compliant versions. Examples of these could be US “DANGEROUS” placards; or those with the midline adjusted (e.g. Class 7, 8, 9); or worded and “combustible” placards.
In addition, if means of containment (soon to become “packaging” we hope!) have labels or other safety marks differing from TDGR requirements, then the shipping paper must Continue Reading…

Deer Crossing Sign
Are Highway Warning Signs Effective?

How Well Do Driving Safety Signs Work?

A few years ago, someone wrote an irate letter to his local newspaper about the deer warning signs put up on a local highway. He couldn’t understand why they were always on busy highways. Wouldn’t it reduce accidents if the deer were told to cross smaller roads instead?

We may laugh, but the story does bring up an interesting point. Just how effective are traffic warning signs? They can be found wherever we travel, from the common “sharp curve ahead” to the more esoteric, such as the “moose warning” signs in Newfoundland. Highway safety departments consider them an important part of improving driving safety. But how well do they work?

Apparently, the answer is somewhere between “not great” and “we’re not sure.” There’s little research on the effectiveness of highway traffic signs and what there is shows that a surprising lack of effectiveness. For example, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has admitted:

“Signs that alert drivers to infrequent encounters or possible situations–such as deer crossing or children playing—do not have a consistent impact on driver behavior. Widespread use or misuse of warning signs reduces their overall effectiveness.”

Traffic and Why We Drive The Way We Drive

Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), says:

“[D]rivers routinely see signs warning of deer crossings (in the United States) or elephant crossings (in Sri Lanka) or Continue Reading…

Single Packaging
Benefits and Rules of Variation Packaging

Standard 4G UN combination packaging is tested in a specific configuration with specific inner packaging and components. When using standard 4G UN combination packaging, you must use very similar components that match the configuration of the way the package was tested in the lab. This can make it rather difficult at times to find a packaging solution to meet your specific needs. In comes variation packaging to save the day! Variation packaging allows you to use various types of inner packaging, such as bottles, cans, jars, and smaller plastic containers while using a fiberboard box that meets the UN specifications and the ISTA requirements.

This packaging is ideal when a combination of different inner components is needed, or when the party responsible for shipping has a variety of products to ship. This type of packaging carries labeling marks designated 4GV. Below is a list of some rules and regulations per 49 CFR 178.601 (g) (2) if you decide to utilize variation packaging:

  1. Articles of any type, liquid or solid, may be assembled and transported using variation packaging if the following conditions are met below:
  2. The same cushioning material must be used as what the package was tested with. If the package was tested with an absorbent pouch and 2 pillows, the same must be used during the shipping process. The same goes for any fiberboard insert associated Continue Reading…