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

Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

Quiz Your Basic DOT Knowledge

July 20th, 2021 by Howard Skolnik

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

Whether you are new to the community of hazardous materials packaging, or a long time participant, you might be surprised to learn something you don’t know! Here are 8 basic questions, hopefully you will get them all correct.

1. Which U.S. government agency regulates the packaging and transportation of hazardous materials?

2. Which of the following marks on a UN rated package represents the most hazardous material?
a. X
b. Y
c. Z

3. On what part of a UN rated steel drum does the permanent mark/embossment have to be placed?
a. top or cover
b. bottom
c. side

4. Should each UN rated drum shipment be accompanied with a set of closure instructions?
a. Yes
b. No

5. A UN test certificate is valid for how many months?
a. 10
b. 12
c. 6

6. Package and Placard Labels are diamond shaped
a. True
b. False

7. All employees must be aware that hazardous materials, hazmat packagings and/or packagings with hazardous material residue could be used by groups or individuals to cause deliberate harm.
a. True
b. False

8. Employees who have a connection to hazardous materials must receive refresher training and be re-tested at least once every year.
a. True
b. False

Answers: (1-DOT)(2-a)(3-b)(4-a)(5-b)(6-a)(7-a)(8-b)

DOT Increases Mandatory Civil Penalties

June 29th, 2021 by Howard Skolnik

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

Federal law requires the U.S. Department of Transportation and several other federal agencies to increase civil penalties annually in accordance with an inflation formula. Accordingly, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has published its new fine schedule for violations of the Hazardous Materials Regulations. The new fines took effect on May 3, 2021. Key increases are shown below, along with a link to the completely new DOT fine schedule.

  1. The maximum civil penalty for hazmat shipping violations has increased from $83,439 to $84,425 per day, per violation.
  2. For a violation that results in death, serious illness, severe injury, or substantial property damage, the maximum hazmat civil penalty has increased from $194,691 to $196,992 per day, per violation.
  3. The minimum penalty for failure to provide hazmat training for employees has risen from $502 to $508 per employee, per day.

For a complete list of penalty increases, go here.

As Steel Prices Rise, Thickness Still Matters

May 25th, 2021 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: HazMat, Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

It’s no secret that in the past year, the price of steel in the US has risen by a greater percentage than in all the previous steel making years combined. And in most cases, manufacturers of steel products have passed on the increase to the end user. There is always the belief that when steel prices increase, reconditioned drums are worthy of consideration. However, in this unique steel crisis, the available recycled raw materials that are used to manufacture drums are drying up as used drums are being crushed and sold into the global scrap market. Given the reduction of steel drums available for reconditioning, the reconditioned drum prices are high and reflect the shortage of raw drums. Therefore, the new vs reconditioned prices are not far apart. Some manufacturers are using the price of steel in the US as a means to reduce the necessary wall thickness of steel drums. Shipper’s probably don’t realize that reducing wall thickness increases the risk of drum performance – and a small cost savings on the drum exposes the much more expensive inner contents to greater risk. On the other hand, users contemplating reconditioned versus new drums will find that a reconditioned drum is going to be thicker and heavier than many of the thin-walled new drums that cannot withstand reconditioning and are being scrapped after a single use. When choosing the best drum for your product, we recommend that thicker steel (0.9mm minimum or 20 gauge minimum) is the best choice for risk-reduced transport and storage.

Free HazMat Training Webinars from DOT

November 17th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

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

PHMSA offers Hazmat transportation training workshops and webinars throughout the year. These free training opportunities are for anyone who offers or transports hazardous materials in commerce, or has a desire to learn more about DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).

PHMSA conducts webinars specialized to meet the needs of industry or the public safety community. Transportation webinars provide a basic overview of the regulatory requirements – what they are, how they apply, and how to comply with them – for shipping and transporting Hazardous Materials.

To register for any of the webinars below, please use the following link:

What are Limited Quantities of Dangerous Goods?

October 20th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: HazMat, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

All materials which meet the criteria of one of the nine (9) hazard classes are regulated as hazardous materials for transport. However, when the amount of certain hazardous material packed within a package is limited, the magnitude of the hazard is reduced but not eliminated. Thus, exceptions can be applied for packaging and hazard communication as authorized for certain hazard classes.

In order to qualify for these exceptions, the US Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR Parts 171?180; HMR), the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code), the International Civil Aviation Organization Technical Instructions on the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO TI), Transport Canada’s Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG), and other international regulatory texts authorize specific quantity limitations per inner and outer packaging for each hazard class and packing group. If the quantity of material contained within the inner packaging is below these limitations, and the gross weight of the outer package is within the authorized limits the consignment may be offered for transportation as a limited quantity.

The HMR, IMDG Code, and TDG typically limit the amount of material allowed within the largest inner packaging in a combination package and limit the gross weight of the package, while the ICAO TI limits the net quantity of hazardous material in the package.
Click here for guidance on Limited Quantities in air, sea, road and rail.

The Labor That Keep Our Communities and Families Safe

September 8th, 2020 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: HazMat, Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

As we go about our daily lives, each of us has numerous unknown encounters with dangerous goods (hazardous materials) without incident. These encounters are safe because those goods are safely packaged, transported, stored and used, thanks to the hard work of dangerous goods professionals (DG) around the world whose efforts often go unnoticed.

On August 4, 2020, in Beruit, Lebanon, 2,750 tons of ammonia nitrate exploded, killing at least 220 people, injuring more than 5,000, and leaving over 300,000 homeless. The blast is the largest accidental ammonia nitrate explosion ever recorded. At least ten times over the past six years, Lebanese security agencies and judiciary sounded the alarm bell that a massive amount of explosive chemicals were being unsafely stockpiled at the port in the heart of Beirut. Even with all these warnings of an impending disaster, nothing was done, and sadly, a tragedy occurred.

Manufactured in beads that resemble cooking salt, ammonia nitrate is generally safe to handle and is used in numerous ways, such as in fertilizer for agriculture. But storing and transporting it can be problematic. When exposed to high heat and other fuel sources, ammonia nitrate can become explosive. This is why in many countries there are strict rules governing its storage and transportation. For example, many European Union nations require calcium carbonate be added to it, creating calcium ammonium nitrate, which is safer. In the United States, regulations were tightened after two tons of ammonia nitrate were used to create the bomb in the 1995 Oklahoma City federal building attack that killed 168 people; now, under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, facilities that store 2,000lbs of ammonia nitrate are subject to inspection.

In my nearly 30 years of work in the dangerous goods community, I have sat through countless meetings, presentations, and hearings discussing the finer points of performance-oriented packaging testing or the proper paperwork and labeling for a shipment of radioactive material. I have had numerous conversations late into the night about the shipment of oxygen cylinders on airplanes. And if you really want to jumpstart a heated discussion, bring up the illegal shipment of counterfeit lithium batteries. The one thing all of these encounters have had in common is the untold number of DG professionals who have dedicated their careers to keeping people and the environment safe.

Not many of us actually set out to have a career in this field, but once we are introduced to it, it becomes a life long passion. Ranging from government regulators, fire department chiefs, trade association members, and dangerous goods managers at companies around the globe, these DG professionals are truly dedicated to keeping us safe from disasters like the one that took place in Lebanon.

As I write this, it is Labor Day weekend in the United States. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the DG community for your work–labor that keeps our communities and families safe.