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November/December 2002 Newsletter
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This has been an unusually busy month at R-A Specialists therefore we are combining November and December’s newsletters.

U.S. Regulatory update:

RSPA-02-12064 (HM-232) TITLE: Hazardous Materials: Security Requirements for Offerors and Transporters of Hazardous Materials.

As of 21 October 2002, 272 comments have been submitted to the U.S. D.O.T.’s Research and Special Programs Administration concerning proposed new security requirements for manufacturers, distributors, shippers, forwarders, carriers, and warehouse operators involved in various functions dealing with hazardous materials (dangerous goods). Some of the commenters represent industry or trade groups so those 272 comments could easily be voicing opinions on behalf of a thousand or more large and small businesses. Non-U.S. companies have also jumped into this hornet’s nest as well.

We check the U.S. D.O.T. Hazmat website a couple of times a day in order to see if a final rule has been published. No, it has not. We do not envy RSPA’s Susan Gorsky’s role in coordinating all of the comments and helping RSPA in coming up with a final rule.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Gorsky, (202) 366-8553, Office of Hazardous Materials Standards, Research and Special Programs Administration.

At the DGAC Conference in Phoenix earlier this month, RSPA’s representative, Fritz Wybenga, did not expect the final rule to be published before the end of the year.

RSPA-01-10568 (HM-207B); Hazardous Materials: Retention of Shipping Papers; Final rule, response to appeals; Published 11/1/2002; Effective Date: November 1, 2002; 67 FR 66571. This rule requires both shippers and carriers of hazardous materials/dangerous goods to maintain shipping documents for a minimum of 375 days after the shipment is tendered to the initial carrier. This applies to domestic shipments, export from the U.S. and imports into the U.S. This is a security-related regulation.

FMCSA-02-13376; RSPA-02-12773 (HM-232B); Revision to Periodic Tire Check Requirement for Motor Carriers Transporting Hazardous Materials; Final rule; Published 10/4/2002; Effective Date: November 4, 2002; 67 FR 62191. This rule does away with the antiquated requirement for truckers to periodically check their tires every 100 miles. Drivers are now required to check their tires at the beginning of a trip and each time that the vehicle is parked. This rule applies to interstate and intrastate drivers and vehicles transporting hazardous materials. This is a security-related regulation.

RSPA-98-3971 (HM-226); Hazardous Materials: Revision to Standards for Infectious Substances; Correction to final rule effective date; Published 08/27/2002; Effective Date: February 14, 2003; 67 FR 54967.

SUMMARY: This document corrects the effective dates for a final rule revising transportation requirements for infectious substances, published in the Federal Register on August 14, 2002 (67 FR 53118). The effective date for the final rule and the incorporation by reference approval date are corrected to February 14, 2003.

RSPA-98-3971 (HM-226); Hazardous Materials: Revision to Standards for Infectious Substances; Final rule; Published 08/14/2002; Effective Date: October 1, 2002; 67 FR 53118. (See above for change in effective date).

SUMMARY: RSPA is revising transportation requirements for infectious substances, including regulated medical waste, to: adopt defining criteria and packaging requirements consistent with international standards; revise the current broad exceptions for diagnostic specimens and biological products; and authorize bulk packaging options for regulated medical waste consistent with requirements in international standards and DOT exemptions. These revisions will assure an acceptable level of safety for the transportation of infectious substances, and facilitate domestic and international transportation.

 

Major issue raised by a D.O.T./RSPA Interpretation

On May 31, 2002, RSPA issued an interpretation concerning the training requirements for persons who sign dangerous goods certifications/declarations. RSPA’s comment essentially requires that the person signing the document must be trained in all aspects of classifying, marking, labeling, packaging, placarding, and proper condition for transportation. RSPA advised that the employee signing the document must be able to assure that full compliance with the HMR (DGR) has been followed, therefore, full training was required.

We are aware of many companies that have taken the position that the person signing the document merely must receive training on how to fill out the document. In many cases the documentation is prepared at a facility other than the actual shipping point and the employee signing the document has never seen the freight or checked the packaging, marking, labeling, etc.

Indeed, some training organizations travel the country from city to city offering 3 or 4-hour initial training courses for shipping dangerous goods by all modes of transportation.

We feel that this confusion is actually caused by the regulations. “General Awareness” training, for example, appears to be in the eyes of the beholder. We think DOT/RSPA, ICAO, IATA, IMO and other regulatory organizations should spell out exactly what material must be covered. Classifications, for example, for some instructors, is merely mouthing the words “explosives, gases, flammable liquids”, and so on.

We came across a shipper recently who had been shipping his product for three years as “not regulated”. They recently got around to doing a flash point test on their product. It had a flash point of 21°C. They wanted to know if by chance this changed the “classification”. The MSDS read “Flash Point: N/A” – the manufacturer meant “not available.” Everyone else thought it meant “not applicable.” No one questioned it.

This is not unusual. Ignorance is bliss.

Dangerous Goods Advisory Council’s Conference in Phoenix, November 7 and 8, 2002.

The conference was a huge success with hazmat security being the main topic. The exhibitors had timely products dealing with different levels of security ranging from securing cargo from tampering to preventing trucks and ocean containers from being used as weapons of destruction.

Risk Assessment was a prime topic and the conference speakers were interesting and shared their knowledge with enthusiasm. The breakout sessions dealing with Risk and Security Management in Domestic Commerce, Risk and Security Management in International Commerce, and Advances in Technology were outstanding learning experiences.

If you didn’t attend the conference, you should have. In the coming months it will become more apparent as you search for answers to your hazmat transportation dilemma.

IATA’s 44th Edition of the Dangerous Goods Regulations are now available. They will be issued at our recurrent and initial training classes at the end of this month and the first week of December.

Our 2003 training schedule will be issued by December 1st .

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