Seat belts
Grateful Dead and Truck Seat Belts?

FMCSA Final Rule

Occasionally a change to a regulation comes along and just the title of it triggers the memory of a song in my head. On June 8th the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a final rule regarding passengers in commercial trucks. As soon as I saw the words “commercial trucks” the Grateful Dead’s song “Truckin’” popped into my head. For a reminder of this song, take a listen here. Throughout the song various cities are mentioned and the song itself is about the band travel exploits. The irony of this band and safety is not lost on me!

Now that the song is stuck in your head which are called “ear worms” by the way, let’s talk about the actual change to the regulation. For years commercial truck drivers have been required to wear seat belts but passengers did not. That is about to change. The revision goes into effect on August 8th and now requires all passengers riding in commercial trucks to wear a seatbelt. If a passenger fails to do so, then the driver will be held responsible.

We all know that wearing a seat belt can save your life. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2014, “37 passengers traveling unrestrained in the cab of a large truck were killed in roadway crashes”. Granted that’s not a large number, but any loss Continue Reading…

Motorcycles – Yes, They are Dangerous Goods

If you are feeling “Born to Be Wild” – Steppenwolf and looking to race down life’s highway on two wheels this summer, but short on time, or looking for an even better adventure across the pond, fly your bike and meet it there.

Wait! You can’t just show up at the airport and check in your motorcycle. Did you know that a motorcycle is considered to be a dangerous good? Under the IATA regulations, a motorcycle is classified as UN 3166, Vehicle flammable liquid powdered, hazard class 9; and therefore needs a shipper’s declaration form.

What does this mean to the average motorcycle enthusiast? It means that you need to seek the advice of a dangerous goods consultant, who specializes and can assist in providing instruction on the preparation of the motorcycle, and provide the proper signed shipper’s declaration.

According to Air Canada, some of the requirements at time of tender include:

  • The fuel tank must be drained as far as practical; and fuel must NOT exceed ¼ of the tank capacity
  • All batteries must be installed and securely fastened in the battery holder of the vehicle and be protected in such a manner as to prevent damage and short circuits
  • Spare key, to be left in the ignition
  • Alarm (theft-protection devices, installed radio communications equipment or navigational systems must be disabled
    Air waybill number (booking number)
  • Saddle bags may Continue Reading…
PHMSA
Correction to HMT in 49CFR

On Monday, April 25, 2016 the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a correction to the 49CFR Hazardous Materials regulations in the Federal Register.

The correction states:

“In Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, parts 100 to 177, revised as of October 1, 2015, on page 269, in § 172.101, in the Hazardous Materials Table, for the entry ‘‘Phenylmercuric compounds, n.o.s.’’ add ‘‘G’’ in the first column.”

The federal register notice can be viewed here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-04-25/pdf/2016-09615.pdf

The “G” in the first column of the Hazardous Materials Table (HMT) identifies proper shipping names for which one or more technical names of the hazardous material must be entered in parentheses, in association with the basic description. The technical name(s) must be shown on package marking and shipping papers. Failure to comply with the corrected information can result in non-compliant shipments.

Toxic
The Zika Virus — Public Health Crisis and Regulatory Puzzle

Zika virus – the name itself sounds exotic and dangerous. It is believed to be a serious risk for pregnant women. And it’s due to arrive in North America. Just how great a danger is this virus, and how should research and medical facilities prepare for the regulatory burden?

First of all, Zika is not a new virus. It has been known since the 1950s in equatorial Africa and Asia, but only recently has it appeared to migrate to new territories, including South and Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico. It is primarily a mosquito-borne illness, transmitted by the Aedes genus of mosquitos. Possibly climate change has increased the populations of these mosquitos in the areas where Zika is spreading. Aedes mosquitos are found in some parts of the U.S., and although they are not currently believed to be in Canada, they may spread as the climate warms. Person-to-person transmission by body fluids is possible, but this would be relatively rare compared to the mosquito vector.

Zika is classed in the Flaviviridae family of viruses, along with dengue fever, West Nile virus and the notoriously dangerous yellow fever. However, compared to these, Zika is usually a mild affliction. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only one in five persons infected with the virus shows any symptoms at all. For those who do fall ill, the symptoms Continue Reading…

Special Permits
Adoption of Special Permits into the HMR (HM-233F)

There was a Legislative act signed by US president Barack Obama in July of 2013 called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act or MAP-21. As a result, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is making changes to the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR). These changes will incorporate some provisions from some of the special permits that have a proven safety record and have been widely used over an extended period of time. The intent in doing this is to provide widespread access to regulatory flexibility normally offered in special permits and removing the need for abundant renewal requests. The adopted amendments will also reduce paperwork burdens and help commerce while sustaining an appropriate level of safety.

Special permits set out variances to the requirements found in the regulations, but still has a level of safety that is equal to the safety level required otherwise in the regulations. The MAP-21 legislation required PHMSA to take a look at the special permits that have been in effect for 10-years. PHMSA conducted an investigation of all active special permits and categorized them, as appropriate, as suitable for inclusion into this rulemaking.

The result is PHMSA amending the regulations, 49 CFR Parts 171–180, by accepting requirements within 96 existing special permits. These amendments are based on the review they did of all active special permits as of January Continue Reading…

OSHA Flammable
“Light My Fire” – Calculating Flash Points for Flammable Liquids

One of the most common tests for determining hazard classification is the flash point. This humble piece of physical information is defined in various ways in various regulations, but generally is the lowest temperature at which the vapours from a flammable liquid will ignite near the surface of the liquid, or in a test vessel. This can be critical for safety, because this temperature will be the lowest possible for the liquid to cause a flash fire if released or spilled. If the material can be handled and transported at temperatures lower than the flash point, the fire risk will be much smaller.

The flash point has become the standard test for classifying flammable liquids. It’s used by the U.S. OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Act) and HMR (Hazardous Materials Regulations) classification systems, as well as Canada’s WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) and TDG (Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations).

Obtaining a flash point on a new product is usually easy enough. Many laboratories, particularly those that deal with petrochemicals, can perform the test for a reasonable charge. If your company has too many products to make outsourcing practicable, a flash point tester itself is comparatively low cost (as scientific apparatus goes), and a trained person can obtain data quickly and efficiently. However, both of these options do cost money. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a Continue Reading…

When an Ordinary Box Isn’t so Ordinary After All (HazMat Box)

We have all used a fiberboard (or cardboard as most people call it) box to ship something. It may have been a box of gifts for a friend or family member, or a package of merchandise for a client at work. Most of the time, you probably didn’t give much thought to the box other than to make sure it was sturdy enough and big enough to contain what you were shipping. For these typical kinds of shipments, that ordinary box will do just fine. HazMat (or dangerous goods) shipments, however, aren’t ordinary and neither is the box that they need to be shipped in.

The packaging industry is a science in itself, with ever evolving processes, techniques, materials, treatments, and regulations. HazMat packaging is a specialized area of packaging technology, and it has some very specific requirements that must be followed. Even though a HazMat box may look identical to a standard shipping carton, there are some significant “behind the scenes” differences between them!

  1. Material matters! When dealing with HazMat boxes, there are specific tolerances for manufacturing. The combination of materials used to make up the fiberboard has very little wiggle room once the design has been approved and certified. Changes in the material may invalidate the certification and make the boxes non-compliant.
  2. Proven performance! HazMat boxes have to be put to the test before they can be Continue Reading…
Overpack Label
“OVERPACK” Markings – Overdone?

The Issue

The formalization of the overpack concept into the Canadian TDG regulations has been the subject of concern for domestic shippers of dangerous goods due to the wording for fully regulated (TDGR 4.10.1) products. The wording implies that even when the DG safety marks for packages within the overpack are visible, the overpack must still have an “OVERPACK” mark displayed. This leads to some additional labelling requirements, particularly for shippers of stretch-wrapped pallet loads.

Definition

We’ll pause to review the concept of an overpack, consistent among the various regulations (e.g. TDG, UN Model Recommendations, IMDG, IATA, & 49 CFR).
An overpack is non-standardized packaging that:

  1. Is used for handling convenience (e.g. to reduce multiple handling- I.e. 4 drums on a skid, allowing loading 4 at once rather than 4 trips, or 6 small containers in a “non-spec” master carton, or 48 small boxes stretch wrapped on a skid; a keg (small drum) in a non-spec box for stability, etc. )
  2. Cannot be used as a replacement for inadequate, required “standardized” packaging
  3. Is to be unopened between consignor and receiver
  4. Cannot interfere with the integrity of the standardized packaging (e.g. banding cutting into boxes on a pallet)

The common principle requires that the description of DG that cannot be seen once the overpack is in place will be reproduced on the outside of the overpack.

However, this could be misleading in that Continue Reading…

Danger Placard
Remembering Placards

Mnemonic Devices

How do you remember the meaning of something? Do you try to KISS it where KISS stands for – Keep It Simple Silly? Do you use mnemonics from elementary school and even through college to trigger your memory? I do, and boy how they make things easier. I bet you can remember ROY G BIV, the colors of the rainbow from art class. Music class they gave us easy ways to remember the treble clef with Every Good Boy Does Fine for the lines on the staff and FACE for the spaces. One of my favorites however, is PEMDAS to help remember the order of operations in math!

I am always looking for a fun way to help reinforce my memory. In the hazardous transportation industry there are so many things to remember or define. Oh and the acronyms!

What is a Placard?

Let’s take a look at placards. What is a placard? As defined in the Merriam – Webster dictionary a placard is defined as:

a large notice or sign put up in a public place or carried by people

Placards provide pertinent information about an area, a specific instruction, or a hazard. Placards are used in work places to communicate to people of special operating procedures. Placards are also used in transportation to warn of hazards that are present in a truck on the road, in a rail Continue Reading…

Why You Need the Most Updated Regulatory Texts

The Bible, Shakespeare and Transport Regulations

“Woe is me” is a phrase heard by many. It basically means someone is unhappy or distressed. The Bible uses this phrase in several locations including Job 10:15, Isaiah 6:5 and Psalms 120:5. Shakespeare later used this same expression when writing for his tragic character Ophelia in “Hamlet”. Existing and operating in the world of regulations can also bring on this feeling. It is difficult enough learning the basics of any regulation, but to truly “know” it takes time, patience and work. This process is complicated by the fact that many regulations change. Is it really necessary to have the newest, latest regulation? To answer that question it is time to look to the regulations.

International Air Transport Association (IATA):

For many, these are the Air Regulations. In this instance, the regulation is updated YEARLY. A new edition goes into effect on January 1st of any given year and ends on December 31st of that same year. The Regulation is currently on its 56th Edition. To showcase some of the changes that could apply to a variety of shippers, please read the following:

  1. The List of Dangerous Goods has new entries and/or updates to existing substances
  2. Packing Instructions for Lithium Batteries was updated to include not only a change but also a new addition
  3. Section 7 – Marking and Labeling for Limited Quantities has new information

Continue Reading…