Compliance Solutions

Significant Changes in DOT Regulations On The Horizon

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Courtesy of Compliance Solutions

Since 9/11, 2001 the Department of Transportation has dramatically increased enforcement and monitoring of hazardous materials shipments and hazmat compliance. Each day, thousands of pounds of hazardous materials are transported on America’s highways, railways, airways and waterways. Everything from Sparklers (the little “toys” our kids waive on Independence Day) to explosive weapons used in Iraqi are transported throughout U.S. by commercial means. The Oklahoma City bombing “woke-up” America to the reality that everyday substances can be used against us to form deadly weapons. If you are a shipper or handler of hazardous materials and have not at least reviewed your current program for compliance, now would be a great time to make the preverbal “New-Years Resolution” to insure your company is in compliance with new DOT regulations. 

When addressing hazmat compliance, it is no longer enough to make sure your shipments are properly packaged. New DOT regulations require shippers and transporters to insure the “physical security” of any hazmat while at your facility as well as monitor and restrict the personnel who have access to those materials.  A significant change was made to 49 CFR part 172.704 when a new section, Subpart I was added. 49 CFR Subpart I requires certain hazmat shippers and transporters to put their companies security plan in writing. Your written plan must include 4 key areas; assessment, personnel security, unauthorized access and en route security. Like any good program, once crafted, 49 CFR part 172.704(a)(5) requires that all hazmat employees to be trained in there company’s written security plan by December 22, 2003 (if you’re wondering “who is a hazmat employee” 49 CFR part 171.8 will spell it out for you).  As a footnote, if your company is NOT required to put your security plan in writing, remember that all hazmat employees must be trained in basic security as part of their recurrent hazardous materials training.

The next significant phase of regulatory changes came with HM-215I. (Because of limited space, we will not address all of the changes in this article, if you are looking for a comprehensive listing, a FREE training course is available by clicking the link below). HM-215I enacts key changes in how hazardous material shippers and transporters do business. These changes are phased in over a period of 7-years beginning January 1, 2007 and ending January 1, 2014. The key focus of HM-215I is an attempt to bring Federal Regulations in line with international shipping standards. The end result is hopefully providing commerce with consistency in hazmat shipping regulations and better overall security.  There will be numerous changes to the Hazardous Materials Table (49 CFR part 172.101) as well as a significant change to how to list hazardous materials on a bill of lading.

Many of these changes will have a major effect on how we transact business as well as the safety can security of our employees and our families. The Department of Transportation has taken steps to better regulate how hazardous materials are handled and transported; it is our responsibility to regulate who will have access to those materials. These changes are the first of many to come as the DOT, business and industry adapt to the ever changing needs of our industry. It is important that if you and/or your company ships or transports any type of hazardous materials, that you take the steps to stay in compliance. Failing to comply can be very costly from a financial standpoint. If State or Federal regulatory agencies audit your company, you could easily find yourself looking at a civil citation/s equaling tens of thousands of dollars as well as possible criminal litigation. With the New Year so close at hand, it is in the best interest of you, your employees and your country to take a serious look at making hazmat security and safe transportation a priority, not just another regulation you “have” to comply with.

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