TDG
Transport Canada Publishes Enforcement Action Summaries

Truck Driving on highway at sunset

A New Awareness Vehicle

Transport Canada has added a new item to the various informative offerings on the TDG home page. A link was added to an “Enforcement Action Summaries” listing to supplement existing guidance pages on topic-specific publications, orders, equivalency certificates, safety awareness material, etc.

This new page is intended to give the regulated community a better understanding of the types of offences that could subject them to penalties or orders to take corrective action. The objective is to provide an incentive to “deter wrongdoing” by demonstrating consequences to those who might choose to ignore the regulations; or, on a more positive note, provide an illustration of the advantages of understanding the regulations before an enforcement situation is encountered.

“I Fought the Law …” – or Ignorance is (Usually) No Excuse

Sections 22(3) and 40 of the TDG Act do provide for a defense of having taken “all reasonable measures” to comply with the Act. “Reasonable measures” would normally include acquiring and maintaining knowledge of the applicable regulations.

Although current enforcement activities are unlikely to result in the incarceration experienced by the misguided soul in Bobby Fuller’s 1966 classic hit, the TDG Act does provide for a range of consequences.

These consequences are represented in the Continue Reading…

PHMSA Penalties Increase

Chemical Drums Disposal

Enforcement of Hazardous Materials Program Procedures

Many have heard the phrase, “money makes the world go around”. The phrase was made popular by the stage and film show “Cabaret”. In fact, that phrase is the name of one of the songs in the show. For a snippet of the song featuring Liza Minnelli, listen here.

What does this phrase have to do with the US transport regulations you may ask? It comes down to a particular section of 49 CFR. In Subpart D of Part 107 Hazardous Materials Program Procedures is a section entitled “Enforcement”. Within that subpart are the possible penalties a company could be assessed for violations to the requirements of 49 CFR. In particular, take a look at Sections §107.329 regarding the maximum civil penalties which could be assessed to a company.

Maximum Penalties Increase

Here’s where things get tricky. Anyone working with these regulations is familiar with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.  Quite a mouthful, I know. This act basically requires federal agencies to adjust civil penalties each year to account for inflation. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is a federal agency. As such, on April 19, 2017, those penalties increased. Per the announcement:

The maximum Continue Reading…

Amazon: Hazmat Violations Lead to Hefty Fines

Pulled over by police officer

Violations & Fines

We have all had this experience: We are driving in our car on a long stretch of highway or a small suburban road and it happens.

We notice a flashing light in our rear view mirrors and we are pulled over by a friendly neighborhood member of law enforcement.

As you go into a brief moment of anger and confusion, you realize most likely this is going to result in a hit to your pocketbook. As the old saying goes, “You do the crime, you do the time.” In this case it is in the form of a check or money order. Following the regulations for the transportation of dangerous goods is certainly no exception. The world’s largest internet-based retailer is finding this out. Recently, Amazon has been hit with a $78,000 fine by the FAA for violating its Hazardous Materials Regulations.

When a package containing a highly flammable liquid began leaking en route to its destination, it was found to have no markings or labels and was also missing required paperwork. This incident is just one of numerous shipping violations Amazon has had within the last several years, totaling approximately $872,000 in fines.

UN Packaging New Labels

Penalties Have Become More Severe

Since the ValueJet Disaster in Continue Reading…

PHMSA Increases Potential Fines for Non-Compliance

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has increased the potential penalties for failing to comply with the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).

Under Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR), hazardous materials must be transported in accordance the rules set out in Parts 100-185 of the HMR. Failing to follow these minimum standards can result in serious risk to the public, as well as environmental and property damage. Therefore, the potential penalties for lack of compliance must be appropriate. These penalties are set by Congress, but must be reflected in the HMR itself. Civil penalties are fines; there are criminal penalties involving prison sentences for violations that are “willful or reckless”.

Penalties must be kept current, and reflect not only inflationary changes, but also the government’s concern ab that the regulations are taken seriously by stakeholders. Therefore, on July 6, 2012, the U.S. Congress revised the maximum and minimum civil penalties for a “knowing violation” of the Federal hazardous material transportation law, or legal requirements under that law, such as regulations, special permits, inspectors’ orders or special approvals issued under that law. Details on these new penalties may be found in 49 U.S.C. 5123(a). The new penalties take effect on violations Continue Reading…

What is the Cost of Doing Business Safely?

According to OSHA the Most Frequently Cited Standards


The following were the top 10 most frequently cited standards in fiscal year 2012 (October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012):

  1. Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  2. Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  4. Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  5. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  6. Powered industrial trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  7. Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry (29 CFR 1910.305) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  8. Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  9. Machines, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.212) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  10. Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.303) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]

The following are the standards for which OSHA Continue Reading…

Federal Railway Administration Adjusts HAZMAT Fines

In a recent Final Rule, The Federal Railway Administration (FRA) has increased or modified its penalties for hazardous materials violations involving rail shipments.

The Final Rule, RIN 2130–ZA11, reflects Title III of Division C of MAP–21(Pub. L. 112–141), the Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2012. This Act revised the maximum and minimum civil penalties for violations of Federal laws regarding hazardous materials transportation. FRA has therefore updated its references to the maximum and minimum civil penalties for hazardous materials violations in its own guidelines.

In Part 209 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR), the FRA has made the following changes:

  • The maximum civil penalty has been increased to $75,000 from $50,000 for “knowing violations” of any requirement of a Federal hazardous materials transportation law. This also applies to violations regarding orders, special permits or approvals issued by the DOT.
  • The maximum fine has been increased from $100,000 to $175,000 if the violation results in death, serious illness or severe injury to any person, or substantial destruction of property.
  • The minimum civil penalty of $250 was eliminated. However, a minimum civil penalty of $450 was retained for violations regarding training.

The amendments under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety Improvement Act of Continue Reading…

PHMSA’s Civil Penalties for 2008

Recently, PHMSA published a listing of the 130 civil penalty cases it closed in the 2008 calendar year. The total dollar amount collected for these violations was over $1.1 million. While I fully support inspections and investigations that lead to penalties for non-compliance, it makes me wonder what the hazmat community can do to save themselves from these costly mistakes.

22 of the 130 cases involved some sort of training violation, usually in addition to other violations. As a trainer, that seems like one of the easiest requirements to comply with, putting that training to use on the job can be trickier. I have always seen training as the best way to make sure you are doing something right, and I imagine it applies to many of these cases, even if there were no training violations involved.

If you are interested in the listing, it can be found at here.