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February 2002 Newsletter

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The Hazardous Materials Advisory Council (HMAC) has changed its name to the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council (DGAC).

The name change became effective on 1 January 2002. The name change better reflects the former HMAC role in international transportation safety initiatives concerning dangerous goods.

HMAC/DGAC has actively participated in meetings of the UN Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, the UN Sub-Committee of Experts on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, ICAO, IMO, U.S. and North American hazardous materials initiatives, as well as rule-making procedures of other regional and international regulatory organizations.

The DGAC Board of Directors and Committee Meetings are being held in Orlando, Florida on February 6 and 7.

The 2002 DGAC/Pira International Global Dangerous Goods Conference, "Obstacles to the Transport of Dangerous Goods: How are We Overcoming Them?" will be held April 4 and 5 in Antwerp, Belgium. It is anticipated that new security measures for air and ocean shipments will become major topics of discussion at the conference. Certainly security issues will prevail in private discussions among the attendees at social gatherings during the conference. Handling and packaging of dangerous goods for all modes will also be prime subjects that will be covered.
For more information about this important conference please use the following link: http://www.dgac.org

We hope to see you at the conference in April. Please look us up to say hello.

If your company is not a member of DGAC (HMAC) we hope you will consider joining this world-renowned non-profit organization. And, if your company does join, please become active in its many committees. You really can help to improve safety in the handling and transporting of dangerous chemicals.


Through the extraordinary achievements of NASA, the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a weapon has been developed to defend against bioterrorism. Use our link to NASA's headline service for more information:

Annihilating Anthrax -

In Our Opinion:

We will now step up on to our soapbox...

The U.S. D.O.T. - Research and Special Programs Administration - The Frequency of Training

In 1996 the U.S. Competent Authority (RSPA) changed its recurrent training requirement from 2 years to 3 years, except for U.S. Flag Air Carriers, who still have a one-year requirement.

Granted, we may have what would appear to be a selfish motive, but it is our experience, based upon conducting many recurrent training programs, that the three-year requirement is a failure.

Our experience has been, that in three years, most of the people have forgotten the important subjects that they previously learned. While we at R-A Specialists use motivational techniques in our initial training programs, admittedly, it has all worn off by the time the three-year cycle comes to an end. Speaking to other training organizations we find that they have similar experiences. Even the training records become dusty and are often misplaced after two years. Because re-training obligations are off on a distant horizon, shippers, forwarders, and carriers fail to train replacements for trained employees who have left the company for another job or have simply retired. In some rare cases, training records presented to enforcement personnel, actually represent employees who have left the company.

While the three-year cycle might work for a small company with a limited product line of perhaps one or two dangerous goods, and a stable work force, it simply does not work for transportation companies, distributors, and shippers of multiple classes of hazardous cargo.

While many good-citizen type companies recognize the problem and train their personnel on a more frequent basis, far more stay strictly within the law and complacency sets in.

What do we see on a daily basis as a result of this relaxation?

  1. Damaged hazmat cargo due to truckers failing to brace the cargo as required.
  2. Damaged hazmat cargo due to careless handling in a warehouse.
  3. Undeclared dangerous goods because no one considered the hazard classification system.
  4. Unconcerned reaction to hazmat spills.
  5. Hiding of damaged packages because no one understood the potential risks.
  6. Nonchalance, if you will, concerning paperwork requirements.

These are all serious problems. Some are caused by two-hour training programs. Still others by the failure of companies to correctly identify their "hazmat employees". We see a tendency by transportation companies to designate 2 or 3 employees as hazmat-"certified" out of a group of 50 workers with the explanation that the other employees do not handle the hazmats. How does an untrained employee recognize dangerous goods that he should not handle? Are trained personnel available during all working hours?

The data that we have accumulated from training and testing over 25 years clearly shows that employees score higher after an initial training class. They did not score very much lower when tested at two-year intervals. But there is a significant drop off in test scores now that we are well into the three-year training cycle. We know this by virtue of our policy that when an attendee fails a test we bring them back for additional tutoring and a new test.

While the U.S. RSPA staff has accomplished a great deal in providing training aids, services, and up-to-date information via its website, the violations continue. The staff at RSPA is hard working and dedicated. But, perhaps its time to revisit the issue of recurrent training.

You are welcome to comment about this topic by e-mailing us at:

We will print your comments in future newsletters. Please keep the comments brief and let us know whether you wish to be identified or not. But you must identify yourself at least to R-A Specialists if you wish to have your comments printed in future newsletters.

We all have responsibilities for safety in transportation.

February 2002 Quiz:

Since training was the main topic of our newsletter this month, in the interests of preventing undeclared dangerous goods, let us take still another look at the classification system.

After you take the test if you need a brush up on the classifications press here!


Your HAZMAT quiz for February, 2002:
Just roll your mouse over the for the answer!

Provide the hazard class or division number and the hazard class or division name appropriate to the following descriptions:

  1. A liquid or solid material that releases oxygen in a fire, causing an extremely rapid build up of flame and heat.

  2. A gaseous material that will burn rapidly or explode when exposed to a source of ignition.

  3. A thermally unstable substance liable to undergo strong exothermic decomposition even without the presence of air.

  4. A solid desensitized explosive.

  5. A liquid or solid that may cause destruction of the skin.

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