Training & Compliance
Ensuring That Your Hazmat Regulatory Compliance and Training Program is Effective
By Roy Marshall
President, Regulations Training, Inc.
[Editor's note: This article was published prior to U.S. DOT security training requirements. Security requirements, including 49 CFR Part 172 Subpart H & I, must be included in your training and compliance program.]
Training, auditing and a good information program can significantly reduce your company's liability exposure. Here's just one example: This author conducted general awareness (G/A) training for warehouse employees which resulted in their being able to identify regulated hazardous materials. A few weeks after the training was conducted, this company (I'll call ABC Company) received thousands of free consumer commodity type samples of a product that contained flammable amounts of alcohol. The intent of ABC's vendor was that these samples would be distributed for free by ABC Company - who in fact shipped a lot of material via air. Realizing that these could be regulated by the D.O.T. as hazardous materials, one of the G/A trained warehouse employees brought this to the attention of the transportation manager. The transportation manager checked into it and determined it would clearly be illegal to offer these undeclared to an air carrier. The shipment of free samples was returned - via highway - to the vendor. While it is unlikely these undeclared samples would have resulted in an air disaster...they could have. More likely, would be a scenario where a leaking product would lead to the discovery of undeclared hazardous materials. General awareness training resulted in a safety net preventing the chance for a violation or a disaster from happening.
With FAA proposed fines reaching $70,000.00 for a single undeclared package it is well worth the effort and time to adequately inform your employees of the responsibilities, requirements and risks involved with the transportation of hazardous materials. The potential for litigation and bad publicity offer even more convincing arguments for regulatory compliance. Producing an effective regulatory compliance program is a combination of training, auditing and an information stream that continually assures shipping papers are correct, proper packages are used, labeled and marked, transport vehicles are placarded, etc. Here's some of the basics...
1. Identify hazmat employees.
Identify all employees who in any way may affect, or may be involved with, the transportation of hazardous materials. This would include employees who are directly involved with hazmat transportation, e.g. personnel who:
- fill packages (carboys to tank cars)
- mark or label packages
- prepare shipping documents
- loads, unloads or handles hazardous materials
- placard transport vehicles
- operates a vehicle used to transport hazardous materials
Not so obvious employees may include:
- office personnel who store hazardous materials information in a computer data base
- personnel who make decisions regarding hazardous materials transportation
- sales personnel
2. Determine knowledge needed.
Determine specifically what knowledge each person must have to do his/her job. Everyone should receive general awareness training. Packaging and communication basics should be addressed here. You may want to illustrate the relationship between communication requirements, e.g., shipping papers, marking, and placarding, with the Emergency Response Guidebook. Function specific training should be based on functions performed. For example - training for personnel who prepare shipping papers should include general awareness training, training on the Hazardous Materials Table (including Appendix A & B if hazardous substances or marine pollutants are handled) and training on general and additional requirements for shipping papers. Depth of training should be dependent on job task and the regulations are very clear that "It is the duty of each person who offers hazardous materials for transportation to instruct each of his officers, agents, and employees having any responsibility for preparing hazardous materials for shipment as to applicable regulations in this subchapter"--49 CFR 173.1(b).
Conduct safety training adequate for the level of exposure to hazardous materials. Personnel should receive training on emergency response information required by subpart G of Part 172. Training should include measures to protect the employee from the dangers of the materials which they may be exposed to. Training should include procedures for avoiding accidents, such as the proper handling of drums.
Determine if additional modal training is required. For example, a company receiving and loading hazardous materials in tank cars would need training on unique rail requirements for loading/unloading and returning the empty tank cars. A shipper loading non-bulk packages into containers for ocean transportation would need training on the requirements of the container packing certificate. Shipper's offering hazardous materials for air transportation would need to cover quantity limitations for passenger and cargo aircraft, pressure requirements for packagings used to contain liquids, carrier restrictions and other regulations unique to air transportation.
Based on your determination of the knowledge needed by your employees, present appropriate training. Training may be provided by your personnel or an outside firm. Make sure the trainer is qualified to teach in the area you need training, is current with the latest regulations and can properly answer questions. Remember, a new employee, or one who changes job functions, should be trained within 90 days. Until that training is completed the employee should be under the direct supervision of a properly trained employee. Recurrent training is required every three years, however, an employer is required to keep their employees current with any regulatory changes that would affect their job function.<
Everyone must be tested. Testing should confirm that your personnel can properly handle, ship or transport hazardous materials in full compliance with all federal regulations. Employees should leave with a full understanding of the material. This requires a thorough review of any questions answered incorrectly. Consider having each employee sign off that they understood why they missed any questions. A word of warning here: while testing should give results as to the effectiveness of the training, consider an auditing program where you continually monitor hazmat shipments for compliance. Don't wait 3 years (as allowed by 49 CFR for recurrent training and testing) to monitor your employee's knowledge! Simply put: identify problems that arise and address them before an incident happens or an inspector visits your facility.
Establish and maintain a training record for each employee. Include the most recent training date, a description, copy, or the location of the training materials used. Your documentation record should also include the name and address of the person providing the training and certification that the hazmat employee has been trained and tested.
- Always allow adequate time during training to cover topics.
- Limit training to the specific materials and packagings to be used. In this case, the less information you provide people, the more likely they will be to understand and remember those areas of real importance.
- Include questions on test that deal specifically with your materials and types of packaging.
- Keep track of how many missed each test question. If a significant number missed a question on placarding for example, it would indicate the instructor did not present the material adequately and/or did not allow enough time for the subject. Consider an extra work project next time!
Particular attention should be given to D.O.T.'s requirements in 49 CFR Subpart H - Training. There have never been as many reasons as there are today to make the effort to set up a sound hazmat transportation compliance program. While there are many challenges the benefits are great, and if you ship hazardous materials you simply must be committed to doing it right.
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