Government Shutdown- How Does This Affect PHMSA??

With another government shutdown possibly looming again in the United States in mid-February, many are wondering how this affects the hazardous materials world, specifically those looking to ship domestically or shipments that are entering the U.S.  Whether or not you agree or disagree with the shutdown, I think it is safe to say we can all agree on the importance of the continuing enforcement of the hazardous materials regulations. So the million dollar question here is, will the government shutdown have an effect on PHMSA? The short answer here, for the time being, is yes, but not in all cases. While activities like program developments, research, and HMR permits have generally been suspended, enforcement of the regulations and investigations have continued. Below is a list of continuing operations and suspended activities while this government shutdown continues to take place.

Summary of Continuing Operations

• Investigations of pipeline accidents to determine the causes and circumstances of failure, the need for corrective action, and any non-compliance that might have contributed to the accident.

• Inspections of pipeline operators and systems to detect and remediate safety concerns and determine compliance with the pipeline safety regulations.

• Enforcement of the pipeline safety regulations through corrective action orders, notices of probable violations, letters of warning and other authorized enforcement activities.

• Investigations of hazardous materials accidents to determine the causes and circumstances of failure, the need Continue Reading…

ICC Compliance Center
Looking Forward to 2019

At the start of each new year lots of things are said about changes to make in order for the next year to be better. Many make resolutions about losing weight or getting healthy. Others decide to be nicer to people, spend more time with family or volunteer. It doesn’t mean the previous year was bad, but things can always get better. Let’s look at this from a regulatory compliance point of view, and see if things will be better in 2019.

Changes to Regulations:

Starting January 1, 2019 there is a new version of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations. You must now be using the 60th edition. Luckily, IATA does a great job of giving advanced notice about what is changing late in 2018 so people can start to prepare before the new version takes effect. You can see the list of “significant” changes here. The IMDG Code was also updated for 2019. The new version is the 39-18 Amendment. You are allowed to use the 39-18 starting in January 2019, but the older 38-16 version is still viable for the rest of this year. Again, a summary of the changes for that regulation was published as well. You can find them here. The US ground regulations of 49 CFR had a few amendments throughout 2018, and there is a large one looming for 2019. To stay up-to-date Continue Reading…

Another PHMSA Penalty Increase

In the dangerous goods world things can change fast, so it is very important to be aware of the most up-to-the-minute changes. Much like in the video below, this can feel like an endless chase, but nevertheless we have to keep up the pace to stay within compliance of the changing regulations.

This not only goes for the regulations themselves, but also the penalties involved with being out of compliance. In Subpart D of Part 107 Hazardous Materials Program Procedures, there is a section entitled Enforcement, which outlines the civil and criminal penalties in the event you are non-compliant with the regulations. Being a federal agency, PHMSA must adjust their penalty rates each year to account for inflation. As of Tuesday, November 27, 2018, the new penalty rates officially go into effect. For this year it is a simple calculation, multiply the existing penalty by 1.02041, round up, and this will give you the new penalty.

For example:

  • A violation of hazardous materials transportation law under 49 U.S.C. 5123(a)(1) is going from $78,376 to $79,976.
  • A violation of hazardous materials transportation law resulting in death, serious illness, severe injury, or substantial property destruction under 49 U.S.C. 5123(a)(2) is going from $182,877 to $186,610.

A complete list of the penalty rate changes can be found at the link below:

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-11-27/pdf/2018-24930.pdf

Why is this an issue? If you have the latest hardcopy of the 49 Continue Reading…

Notice of PROPOSED Rulemaking: 49 CFR Docket HM-215O

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is at it again. Published on November 27, 2018 is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that many in the industry want to happen sooner rather than later. It is Docket number HM-215O. This amendment is a giant step towards better alignment of the Hazardous Materials Regulation (HMR), or 49 CFR, with the changes coming in 2019 for several international transport regulations.

Remember, this NPRM is just one step in the process for updating Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. We still have to get through the comment period on this particular docket. Starting today, the comment period is open until January 28, 2019. After that window closes, each comment is reviewed and changes could be made to the amendment. The docket is then published as a Final Rule with a 30- to 60-day phase in period. If you feel strongly about a proposed change, speak now or forever hold your peace.

While what is listed below this is not a comprehensive listing of everything in the PROPOSED amendment, an attempt was made to focus on what could impact a majority of transport professionals. For access to the entirety of NPRM, go to https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/regulations-fr/rulemaking/2018-24620 and view the PDF.

Here are some of the PROPOSED changes in HM-215O:

  • Section 171.7 – This section will now include reference to the 20th Revised Continue Reading…
PHMSA Amendment HM-219

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued another final rule on November 7th. Again, this rule making is the only way to amend or change Title 49 for Transportation in the Code of Federal Regulations. In this case, the docket number is HM–219. Its goal is to “to update, clarify, streamline, or provide relief for miscellaneous regulatory requirements”. It has an effective date of December 7, 2018. While the published rule is only 20 pages long there are many areas of revision. Below is a list of the items that jumped out at me while reading it. If you wish to read the full rule making, please visit https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/regulations-fr/rulemaking/2018-23965.

HM-219 Highlights:

  • Section 172.205 had changes to paragraph (j) which pertains to the Hazardous waste manifest. You are now allowed to use electronic signatures when completing EPA forms 8700-22 and 8700-22A.
  • Section 172.407 had revisions to paragraphs (c) and (f). Paragraph (c) now says “inner border approximately 5 mm inside and parallel to the edge”. It still says the inner border must be 2 mm wide and that the thinner line border labels can be used until the end of the year. Paragraph (f) has included some additional references. It now says, “a label conforming to specifications in the UN Recommendations, the ICAO Technical Instructions, the IMDG Code, or the Transport Canada TDG Regulations … may be used in Continue Reading…
ICC Compliance Center
Ed Mazzullo Honored at 40th DGAC Annual Summit and Exposition
Ed Mazzullo Honored at 40th DGAC Annual Summit and Exposition

If you’ve ever applied for an interpretation from the U.S. Department of Transportation, or even looked one up online, chances are you’ve found a solution to your problem in a letter signed by Edward Mazzullo, longtime Director of the Office of Hazardous Materials Standards of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Mr. Mazzullo’s commitment to clarifying the complexities of the Hazardous Materials Regulations, as well as his career devoted to developing and improving regulatory standards, has resulted in him being awarded the George L. Wilson Award by the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council (DGAC) at its 40th Annual Summit and Exposition in Arlington, VA.

Each year, DGAC, a major organization for the education of the private and public sectors on transport of dangerous goods issues, presents the George L. Wilson Award to an individual, organization or company that has demonstrated outstanding achievement in the field of hazardous materials transportation safety. Previous winners include former members of the DOT, but also representatives of industry, and international representatives such as Linda Hume-Sastre, who labored for many years on the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations for Transport Canada. Even CHEMTREC, the well-known emergency information service, has received the award.

DGAC presented the award to Mr. Mazzullo at a lunch attended by many hazardous materials professionals who have benefitted from his guidance through the years. We applaud his long service, and dedication to Continue Reading…

PHMSA Amendment HM-259

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a final rule on October 18th. As you know, the only way to amend or change Title 49 for Transportation in the Code of Federal Regulations is through a rule making process. This particular docket number is HM–259. Its goal is to “align the U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations with current international standards for the air transportation of hazardous materials”. It has an effective date of October 18, 2018. While the published rule is 23 pages long, I have attempted to hit the highlights here.  If you wish to read the entire final rule with the discussion on comments received, you can go to https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/regulations-fr/rulemaking/2018-22114.

Highlights of HM-259

  • 172.101 – Removal of A3 and A6 from Column 7 for multiple entries in the HMT. Provision A3 will be removed from all Packing Group I entries. Provision A6 will be removed from all liquid entries to which it is assigned.
  • 172.102 – A3 revised and now reads as follows: “For combination packagings, if glass inner packagings (including ampoules) are used, they must be packed with absorbent material in tightly closed rigid and leakproof receptacles before packing in outer packagings.” There is no longer a mention of using “tightly closed metal receptacles”.
  • 175.10(a)(18)(i) – Revised portable electronic devices by passengers and crew. This section has been expanded to include portable medical electronic devices with lithium metal Continue Reading…
PHMSA Has New Portal for Reporting Incidents
Palais des Nations in Geneva

A long time ago, when I was first living on my own, I made, or tried to make, a cheesecake. All the ingredients had been mixed and poured carefully into the pan. All I had to do was put it in the oven and leave it for the appropriate baking time. Unfortunately, as I was transferring it from the counter, the oven door shifted and jarred my hand. My delicious cheesecake batter ended up sloshing into the preheated oven, solidifying and creating a long and tedious cleanup instead of a tasty treat. All I could tell myself as I scrubbed away was, “It’s a learning experience.”

The same is true of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) incidents. While they produce short-term pain, the long-term gain is that we learn more about how to handle them safely. Therefore, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has required for many years that incidents such as fires, spills or the discovery by the carrier of unidentified hazardous materials should be reported to them. Under the DOT, the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which is responsible for the Hazardous Materials Regulations, established a specific form for this, called DOT 5800.1, the Hazardous Materials Incident Report.

What Needs to Be Reported?

The requirements for reporting are given in 49 CFR section 171.15, “Immediate notice of certain hazardous materials incidents.” A reportable incident is defined as Continue Reading…

OSHA & PHMSA Working Together

OSHA & PHMSA Issue Joint Guidance Memorandum

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a joint guidance memorandum that is intended to provide clarity on the applicability and relationship between, DOT’s labeling requirements under the HMR and OSHA’s labeling requirements for bulk shipments under the HCS 2012.

PHMSA’s hazardous materials regulations require labeling of hazardous materials in transportation, while OSHA requires labeling on containers in the workplace.

When OSHA released its Hazcom 2012 (29 CFR Part 1910.1200) revisions, Appendix C.2.3.3 stated that “If a label has a DOT transport pictogram, the corresponding HCS pictogram shall not appear.” The Hazardous Materials Regulations state “No person may offer for transportation and no carrier may transport a package bearing any marking or label which by its color, design, or shape could be confused with or conflict with a label prescribed by this part” (49 CFR Part 172.401(b)).

This raised many questions with stakeholders, and shortly thereafter, OSHA published a brief that stated that PHMSA does not view the pictograms as a conflict, and both may appear. OSHA continues on in the brief to state they intend on revising C.2.3.3, but in the meantime, they will allow both to appear. This new guidance document further confirms this position.

The Joint Guidance Memorandum can be found at https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/joint_phmsa_memo_09192016.html


ICC is your source for compliant DOT/OSHA 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…