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Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

Archive for August, 2017

The DOD Addresses its Hazmat Transportation Issues

August 31st, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: HazMat

According to a recent study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of Defense (DOD) has started efforts to correct the root causes that have caused the improper documentation and packaging of HAZMAT in the U.S. in past years. While this is certainly a positive and promising development, and the DOD is taking GAO’s advice on the issue, it is too early to tell how effective any changes will be.

Back in 2014, the GAO found such inefficiencies as improper documentation and packaging of hazardous materials, which lead to delays of about 27 percent more hazardous materials received at major domestic military airports than in the past 5 years. Additionally, the DOD was determining which carriers were eligible to transport its most-sensitive HAZMAT shipments using a safety score that lacked sufficient. In a 2015 report, the DOD studied these issues, agreed with GAO, and found that the main issues in their transportation practices were documentation-related issues, as well as human error such as inadequate reporting.

At the time, the GAO had also asked the DOD to examine their use of Transportation Protective Services (TPS) for shipments that could have used less costly methods. The DOD claimed they utilized TPS infrequently on shipments for which they weren’t required; only 518 of more than 31,000 HAZMAT shipments. However, in their report, GAO noted that the DOD didn’t disclose what led them to use TPS, and claimed that the DOD could have saved $126,000 of unnecessary costs.

While the DOD and GAO agree on what corrective actions to take, such as establishing ways to prevent future unnecessary uses of TPS, the gears of bureaucracy are slow turning. Most actions were not implemented until late in 2016, and their efficacy will not be assessable until late 2017.

Considering that the DOD contracts about 90% of their HAZMAT shipments out to commercial carriers, the final assessment of how well these changes work will certainly have an impact on any future business with the Department of Defense.

What Exactly IS The Transportation Index?

August 17th, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

There are a number of decisions and calculations involved in the safe transportation of potentially dangerous radioactive materials. Along with considerations such as selecting the right containers (our 7A Type A Drums are great choice for many of these shipping solutions), a crucial rating is the Transportation Index (TI).

Despite its importance, it’s easy to lose the definition of the Transportation Index (TI) among the deluge of terminology, ratings, and regulations. It’s a daunting task to keep track of it all. If you see “TI”, and know that it means “___ sticker goes on the drum,” but would like to fully understand what the term refers to, here is a quick explainer:

The TI is a measurement of radiation that is considered when shipping radioactive material. It does not, however, reflect any relationship with a human body or any maximum safe dose regulations. Rather, it is the measurement of the maximum dose of radiation you would receive one meter away from a package containing radioactive material.

This measurement is then utilized in conjunction with the metrics that establish which colored label a container requires. If a container has a white “Radioactive I” label, no Transportation Index is necessary because these packages produce a negligible reading at one meter. For a package with a yellow “Radioactive II” label, the TI must not exceed 0.01 mSv h-1, and packages with a yellow “Radioactive III” label have a TI that exceeds 0.01 mSv h-1.

There are additional rules for packages that are shipped together. In general, if multiple radioactive packages are being transported together in a common carrier vehicle, the sums of the TIs for all packages must not exceed 0.5 mSv h-1. However, if the vehicle is being used exclusively for the transport of radioactive material, the TI allowances are increased.

These are only a few of the rules and regulations that use the transportation index as a factor. Always consult with the Department of Transportation to make sure you’re fully compliant. However, we hope this helps provide some clarity as you navigate the rules surrounding shipping radioactive materials. Armed with the right information, and perhaps a Skolnik 7A drum, should make the task less intimidating.

A DOT Quiz — TRUE or FALSE!

August 15th, 2017 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

Take a few minutes and answer True or False to the following statements about compliance with the DOT regulations:

  1. The transportation of hazardous materials exclusively on private property, to which signs, gates and guard stations prevent public access, is not subject to the Hazardous Materials Regulations.
  2. If a carrier is present during the time of unloading and the motive power is still attached to the transport vehicle when an incident occurs, the carrier is responsible for submitting an incident report per CFR 171.16. If the carrier has dropped the transport vehicle and the motive power is removed from the premises, the carrier obligation is fulfilled and transportation is ended; thus, the hazardous materials incident reporting would not apply.
  3. Employees subject to hazardous materials training must be tested for general awareness/familiarization, function specific and safety training in accordance with CFR 172.704. In addition, recurrent training must cover these three primary areas of knowledge. Therefore, an employee must successfully pass initial hazardous materials training in addition to recurrent training. Recurrent training cannot be waived.
  4. If a hazardous material at ambient temperatures meets the definition of a solid under CFR 171.8 when packaged and offered for transportation, it is a solid material. However, if the solid will likely encounter temperatures in transportation that may cause the material to become a liquid, then the packaging must be capable of containing the hazardous material in the liquid state.

The UN System for Dangerous Goods Packaging

August 10th, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat, Safety

Skolnik steel barrels are all UN tested for their contents/purpose. If a manufacturer or shipper fails to comply with UN standards, they could face hefty fines, litigation and more. It is always important for manufacturers to adhere to UN regulations, but for dangerous goods packaging the stakes are even higher because, in addition to a fine, failure to comply with UN standards for dangerous goods packaging could lead to a spill, disaster or contamination. But what does this mean? How does the United Nations affect packaging regulations?

The UN system for dangerous goods packaging is universally used and recognized. The system is used to classify, package, mark and label dangerous goods to facilitate their safe transport. All national and international regulations governing road, rail, sea and air transport are based on the United Nations’ system. With all manufacturers, suppliers and transport professionals following a single set of rules, the chances of contamination are greatly reduced.

The regulations dictate a minimum standard of performance. These performance standards are based on the intended contents of a package. Packages must exceed these standards before they can be authorized to contain and transport dangerous goods. The UN system starts with a sort of checklist of general criteria and specifications that the design of packages must meet. The packages then undergo rigorous physical testing before receiving UN certification.

At Skolnik, we pride ourselves in consistently engineering and manufacturing steel drums that exceed the UN certification criteria for dangerous goods and other uses. Our industrial packaging is designed and tested to be thicker, heavier and stronger than the industry standard, and our dangerous goods packaging is no different.