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Posts Tagged ‘international hazmat regulations’

PHMSA Issues Final Rule on Shipping Hazardous Materials

October 19th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: HazMat, Safety

Earlier this week, The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) , in consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), issued a final rule on shipping hazardous materials. This much anticipated rule aligns the U.S. Hazardous Materials regulations with other current international standards for the air transportation of hazardous materials.

By aligning with international standards, businesses, shippers and civilians alike can be more confident that hazardous materials are being safely and securely transported and the risk of incident is reduced.

Now finalized, the new amendments revise a number of requirements including packaging requirements and information to the pilot-in-command requirements. Several more amendments are in response to petitions for rulemaking submitted by the regulated community.

Other amendments include changes to proper shipping names, hazard classes, packing groups, special provisions, packaging authorizations, air transport quantity limitations and vessel stowage requirements.

At Skolnik, we take compliance very seriously. Our hazardous material containers are always manufactured stronger and heavier than industry and regulatory standards require.

This Final Rule is detailed in the Federal Register.

The History of Hazmat and Dangerous Goods Packaging

May 3rd, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat

If you work in the packaging and transportation industries, there’s a good chance that you come across dangerous goods regularly. If you do, then you also come across the term ‘hazmat’. Now, it’s not hard to understand that the two are connected, but what are those connections exactly? What does hazmat have to do with dangerous goods packaging, and just who establishes the rules behind it all?

First, a quick definition. In the United States, the official term for dangerous goods is hazardous materials, which leads to the portmanteau hazmat. Pretty logical, but also easy to take for granted if it’s just another term in the day-to-day sea of acronyms and abbreviations.

Dangerous goods, and in turn hazmat, is a broad umbrella term that encompasses materials that are radioactive, flammable, explosive, corrosive, oxidizing, asphyxiating, biohazardous, toxic, pathogenic, or allergenic. Also included are physical conditions such as compressed gases and liquids or hot materials, and all goods containing such materials or chemicals, or that may have other characteristics that render them hazardous in specific circumstances.

Oversimplified: anything that can hurt a human.

 

Hazmat Regulation in The United States

With such an intimidating list of dangers under its purview, you would think that protection from dangerous goods has been a high priority for our government as long as possible. But, the DOT, EPA and OSHA, three of the most crucial agencies for regulating the safe handling of hazardous materials in the U.S. weren’t even formed until the late 1960s and 1970s.

Then, it was only in 2004 that the Department of Transportation created the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which is the agency directly in charge of developing and enforcing regulations in relation to hazmat transportation. Previously, PHMSA’s hazmat and pipeline safety programs were housed within the Transportation Department’s Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA).

Hazmat Regulation Abroad

Regulators at the global level were a little faster to act. The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)’s publication of the first version of The UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods occurred in 1956. While it isn’t obligatory or legally binding on individual countries, this is the guiding document when it comes the establishing procedures regarding hazmat shipping. For example, all Skolnik barrels that bear a UN certification have been produced to the standards established by the most current version of these recommendations.   

The other crucial contribution to hazmat handling that the UN provides is the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, developed in 1992. This is the set of rules that standardized the labeling of hazmat across borders, and is why we use the color coded diamond-shaped pictograms to designate which hazards are in what package.

Further Hazmat Regulatory Bodies

Along with these major organizations, there are plenty of smaller, more specific groups that have their eyes set on specific topics, such as the International Air Transport Association, the International Maritime Organization and the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail. These are just some of the groups who, as each name suggests, focus on their individual priorities and establish rules and regulations that are adopted, inspire and influence how we handle hazmat here in the states and abroad.


Whether you interact with dangerous goods daily or once in a blue moon, it’s important to not only be able to handle the immediate task of safely storing and transporting these goods, but to know where they fit in larger scheme. If you don’t know why you’re labeling a barrel as hazardous, then it’s easy to make a mistake, and there is little room for error when dealing with hazmat storage and transportation. Luckily, there are plenty of resources for any question you may have regarding hazmat and dangerous goods packaging. All of these organizations have multiple resources you can explore, and if it’s barrel-related, chances are we here at Skolnik can help out too.

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.

Corporations Urge DOT to Approve Rule to Harmonize Hazardous Material Handling Regulations

February 16th, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat, Safety

Earlier this month, 22 corporations and trade associations signed on to a letter addressed to the new Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao. In this letter, the companies plea with Secretary Chao to push through the approval and release of a final hazardous materials safety rule that would harmonize US hazmat shipping regulations with international standards.

The final rule, coded HM-215N, was initially posted on the Federal Register website, but was then rescinded and put on hold per the regulatory freeze imposed by the Trump administration on January 20th.

The letter formally urges Chao to review and approve the rule as soon as possible. Putting the rule into effect will not create any new risks in hazardous material handling or transport, in fact, according to the letter, “it will ensure the U.S. hazardous materials regulations maintain alignment with international standards, thus assuring safety and avoiding disruptions to supply chains.”

As a hazmat storage drum manufacturer, the Skolnik team is aware of the importance of hazmat regulation compliance across the U.S. and abroad. The transportation of dangerous goods is heavily regulated, and rightfully so. Manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, exporters, importers, carriers and industries alike would benefit from the harmonizing of the U.S. HMR with international standards to avoid confusion and maximize safety.

For the sake of hazmat safety and supply chains worldwide, we hope that the DOT resolves this issue quickly. In the meantime, the Skolnik team will continue doing everything in our power to ensure that our clients receive strong, compliant hazmat certified drums for their storage and transport needs.