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

Archive for the ‘DOT/UN’ Category

What to do when the DOT Inspector Arrives at Your Door!

October 29th, 2019 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Skolnik Newsletter

Before an inspection, all companies should establish procedures for dealing with visits by a regulatory inspector. These procedures should address a policy on taking pictures and/or recording interviews in the facility as well as security requirements. Inspections are random and unannounced. An important step in the procedure is to establish a primary and alternate contact to be responsible for interacting with any hazardous materials inspector. The primary contact should be aware of all applicable hazardous materials regulations, know where appropriate documents, such as training materials, are stored, and is knowledgeable about the basic requirements of an inspection. Important procedures to have in place include:

  1. Store applicable training certificates/materials in an easily accessible location: Evidence of training is often looked at during an inspection. Make sure that that everyone who signs shipping papers has a corresponding training record.
  2. Store applicable shipping documents in an easily accessible location: Shipping documents are often referenced and analyzed during an inspection. It is important to note that regulatory agencies only require the review of shipping papers from a certain timeframe. Any shipping documents retained beyond that timeframe should be kept in a separate location.
  3. Keep non-dangerous goods shipping documents separate from dangerous goods shipping documents.
  4. Keep any applicable regulatory manuals at the company shipping desk. These manuals should be the most current version of the regulations.
  5. Have a designated location/isle within your facility or warehouse where hazardous materials are stored. Many inspectors will want to look at how hazardous materials are stored, packaged, labeled, marked and otherwise handled prior to transport. Having these materials in a central location helps streamline the inspection process.

When an inspector arrives, it is important that the primary contact stays with the inspector as much as possible throughout the visit. The primary contact should make sure to do the following:

  1. Invite the inspector to a conference room or private office.
  2. Identify the inspector: Ask to see credentials. Write down relevant information.
  3. Determine the scope of the inspection. Ask the inspector what initiated the inspection.
  4. Advise the companies’ legal counsel of the presence of the inspector.
  5. Take notes on what is seen, what is said, by whom, and whether any samples or copies of documents are taken.
  6. When in doubt on any question posed by the inspector, do not answer. Communicate to the inspector that you do not understand the question, and ask the inspector to put the question in writing, addressed to you company counsel or designated contact. Provide them with the companies’ counsel information.
  7. Do not admit to any violation or lack of compliance verbally or in writing. Do not sign anything other than an acknowledgement that the inspector was there.
  8. Prepare a memo as soon as the inspector leaves. It should include all relevant details of the inspection, copies of documents produced or requested, etc.

At the end of the inspection, the officer will give you details regarding the outcome of the inspection and suggestions of how the company can address concerns that were highlighted.
This is normally a very fair process that helps UN shippers comply with regulatory aspects of their shipments.

Can you Interpret the Marking on the Bottom of your Drum?

October 22nd, 2019 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Skolnik Newsletter

Every UN certified drum has a “birthmark” but few shippers know the meaning of these markings. In accordance with UN recommendations, certified markings indicate the performance rating and test information about a steel drum and must be applied in accordance with CFR 178.3(a)(3). For drums over 100 Litres (26 US Gallons) there are a number of ways that the marking can be applied including stamping, embossing, burning and printing. For these size drums, there must be one complete set of durable marks on the side or non-removable top head of a closed head drum, and a second, partial mark, embossed permanently on the bottom head. The purpose of having the two marks is that once filled, the drum will sit, primarily, on its bottom head, and the UN test information needs to be readily viewable for the user at the side or top mark. The permanent partial bottom mark must conform to the application options indicated earlier. However, the side or top mark is required to be durable rather than permanent. Therefore, it is common and acceptable for the durable mark to be printed on a self-adhesive label, which is attached to the side of the drum. The characters on the label and the permanent embossment are subject to the size and sequence requirements as specified in 178.3(4) and 178.503(a)(1) through (a)(6) and (a)(9)(i). For a breakdown of the individual marks, you can link to the following:
Open Head Solid Marking, Open Head Liquid Marking, Closed Head Marking, Seamless Marking.

New Regulation for Lithium Battery Manufacturers and Distributors

August 3rd, 2019 by Howard Skolnik

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

There is a new requirement for lithium cells and batteries that has the potential of creating a huge wave within the dangerous goods community within the next 2 years. This requirement is known as the “UN 38.3.5 Lithium cell and battery summary” that can be found in the “Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods Modal Regulations Volume II twentieth revised edition”. In paragraph 38.3.5 it states, “the following test summary shall be made available”. The question becomes “made available to whom”? The intent of the paragraph was meant to mean that the 38.3 test summary be made available by manufacturers and subsequent distributors of lithium cells and batteries to regulatory enforcements officials. The test summary refers to the UN 38.3 testing that is conducted on all new lithium batteries.

The testing on these batteries ensures that batteries are in a condition for transport that ensures that the batteries travel safely through the logistics chain. The testing and subsequent documentation also ensures that counterfeit batteries that have not been tested stay out of the logistics chain. According to 38.3.5 the information that “shall” be provided in the test summary include:

  • Name of cell, battery or product manufacturer, as applicable;
  • Cell, battery or product manufacturers contact information to include address, phone number, email address and website for more information
  • Name of test laboratory to include address, phone number, email address and website for more information
  • A unique test report identification number
  • Date of test report
  • Description of cell or battery to include at a minimum;
    • Lithium ion or lithium metal cell or battery
    • Mass;
    • Watt-hour rating or lithium content
    • Physical description of the cell/battery; and
    • Model numbers
    • List of tests conducted and results (i.e., pass/fail)
  • Reference to the assembled battery or testing requirements, if applicable (i.e. 38.3.3 (f) and 38.3.3 (g));
  • Reference to the revised edition of the Manual of Tests and Criteria used and to amendments thereto, if any; and
  • Signature with name and title of signatory as an indication of the validity of information provided. Lithium Cell and Battery Test Summary Challenge with change.

As with most changes that occur with the regulations, the challenge will be communicating the correct application of this rule to shippers, freight forwarders to ensure that there is an understanding that this document is not necessary for transport. Comprehensive and consistent training is an easy way to ensure that the requirement for this document is understood and implemented correctly. Remember, the document is meant to be made available to enforcement officials that need to refer to it should there be an incident involving a lithium battery shipment.

Skolnik’s 49CFR Cheat Sheet Helps to Quickly Locate Packaging References

July 23rd, 2019 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Skolnik Newsletter

Not sure where to begin a search for a packaging reference in 49CFR? The CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) is the Hazardous Materials shipping bible. In Title 49, there are definitions, classifications, regulations and a host of specific requirements set forth by the US DOT regarding the safe transport of hazardous materials by air, rail, water or road. Subtitle B of Chapter 1 refers to the Research and Special Programs Administration, with Subchapters A — C targeting Hazardous Materials Transportation Pipeline Safety, Oil Transportation, and Hazardous Materials Regulations. These subchapters are divided into Parts 171-180 with Subparts, Sections, Paragraphs and Subparagraphs. Part 178 addresses Hazardous Materials Packaging Specifications.

Finding a particular reference to a regulatory question can be difficult. For several years, Skolnik has been developing a CFR Cheat-Sheet of specific paragraphs that speak to common questions regarding UN (United Nations) packagings. A part of the Skolnik web site, the CFR Cheat-Sheet lists, and links, to about 50 packaging references and the exact paragraph that explains the regulatory requirement. The Cheat-Sheet primarily focuses on Section 49 of the CFR, and requirements mostly applicable to steel and plastic drums of all sizes.