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Regulators Say ‘No’ To Working With Industry

October 14th, 2009 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: Associations, DOT/UN, HazMat, Industry News

In a sudden turnaround of the US Department of Transportation, a decade of efforts to work with industry to improve the safe transport of dangerous goods is being brought to an end. Once an Agency that relied on fines to teach compliance, the DOT of the 1960’s – 1980’s used financial penalties as a means to encourage industry to properly manufacture, package, transport and dispose of hazardous materials. In the 1990’s, this method was ultimately deemed an “old school” approach and with the introduction of Performance Oriented Packaging, the DOT set out to improve the education and training of HazMat professionals in both manufacturing and service industries. DOT regulators saw the benefits of teaching industry to proactively “do the right thing” rather than wait for accidents to occur and issue non-compliant fines. Last month, DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) was brought under investigation for their work with industry. DOT has signaled that there will be a return to a less cooperative effort with industry that will return to emphasizing fines, not education. Two organizations which submitted response papers to the Congressional Hearings are the Council on The Safe Transport of Hazardous Articles (COSTHA) and the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council (DGAC). Both organizations represent companies worldwide that collaborate with DOT to improve dangerous goods transport. Noting the accomplishments of PHMSA’s “partnerships with industry,” both the COSTHA Submission and the DGAC Submission are available for review and, in my opinion, offer excellent references to the success of DOT’s past efforts to improve HazMat safety.

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