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

Posts Tagged ‘department of transportation’

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.

What Makes Our Stainless Steel Process Drums So Stainless?

March 29th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is the hero to industries that require sturdy, dependable, sanitary products to keep materials clean and safe for human consumption. It’s in our kitchens and on our dinner tables, needles are crafted out of it, as are surgical implants. At Skolnik, we produce stainless steel, crevice-free, seamless process drums, perfect for personal care and pharmaceutical products or on your food processing line.

But what is it that makes stainless steel…. stainless? Why is it good for handling food? And what is the difference between “304” and “316” type steels?

First, the science behind the steel. Steel is an attractive material in general because it’s lightweight while maintaining excellent strength. The down side to regular steel is that has a tendency to pass on a metallic taste, and more importantly, it corrodes quite easily. Exposed to any amount of moisture, steel generates iron oxide and, over time, regular steel rusts away.

The solution, however, starts with one element: chromium. The same element used in making your car wheels shiny is also the key to making stainless steel work. By smelting a steel alloy that involves at least 10.5% Chromium, the resulting metal spontaneously generates a microscopic layer of chrome oxide, an inert, self-repairing film that protects the metal below. Thus, manufacturers such as ourselves are able take advantage of the strength and durability of steel, while resisting much of the corrosion and unpleasant taste that plague many other metals. This makes it a great material for food-safe applications.

Just what qualifies for “food-safe” though? According to the FDA, “materials that are used in the construction of utensils and food contact surfaces of equipment::

  • Must not allow the migration of ‘deleterious substances or impart colors, odors, or tastes’ to food […]
  • Be ‘durable, corrosion-resistant, and nonabsorbent’ […]
  • Possess sufficient ‘weight and thickness to withstand repeated warewashing’ […]
  • Be ‘finished to have a smooth, easily cleanable surface’ [and]
  • Have resistance to ‘pitting chipping crazing, scratching, scoring, distortion, and decomposition’.”

With chrome oxide perpetually preventing harm, stainless steel is up for the food-safe task, which is why we use in such products as our process drums. It’s sturdiness and ability to withstand sanitation processes while resisting passing on unwanted substances makes it ideal to store food-safe products.

Now, all stainless steel is not made equal. While a major component may be chromium, there are many variations the chemical composition of the alloy, each with their advantages and disadvantages. For example, there is 18/8, named for its 18% chromium and 8% nickel composition. At Skolnik, we use types 304 and 316. 304 has the same 18% chromium, 8% nickel mix that 18/8 has, but 316 has 16% chromium, 10% nickel, and 2% mollybdenum. While 304 is more cost effective and plenty corrosion-resistant, the addition of mollybdenum to 316 helps fight against corrosive salts, something 304 is not as good at resisting.

Which type of drum you use is going to depend on what you need them for, and we are more than happy to help you find the right fit for your project, but no matter which type you go with, if you buy from Skolnik you’ll be getting high quality, food-grade products made out of the best stainless steel that will keep you and your customers safe.

 

PHMSA Releases 23 Million in Grants for Hazardous Waste Transportation Training

October 18th, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: HazMat

Earlier this month, the Department of Transportation’s Pipline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA) announced that they are issuing a series of hazardous materials training grants, totaling $23,870,045. The three separate grants are part of PHSMA’s larger initiative to improve the transportation of these dangerous materials.

The largest of the three, totaling to roughly 20 million, will be disbursed via Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) grants across all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories and Native American tribes, enhancing the abilities of emergency response personnel to protect themselves and the public when responding to hazardous material transportation related incidents.

An additional 2.4 million will be put into Assistance for Local Emergency Response Training (ALERT) grants. These will provide support to non-profit organizations such as the Center for Rural Development and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. The funds will be used to train volunteers and remote emergency responders to safely respond to rail accidents involving crude oil and ethanol products.

The last 1 million will be issued to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance as part of its Community Safety Training grant program. This will allow community organizations to help train local and state personnel responsible for enforcing safe hazardous material transportation.

Hazardous materials have the ability to make an already dangerous situation that much more lethal. With these grants, responders across a broad spectrum of organizations will better be able to respond to the challenges, stay safe and in turn keep those around them safe.

For the full report from PHMSA, including a chart breaking down the allocation of the HMEP grants by state, click here.

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.

Safe Lithium Battery Containment

June 23rd, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, Industry News

Lithium-ion batteries are the most commonly used batteries in consumer electronics and medical devices today, and they have been exploding. For all of the benefits and conveniences, lithium batteries have offered consumers — higher power density, lower memory effect, long life — they have a number of downsides and risks. Their sensitivity can lead to an explosion and, for this reason, they are considered “dangerous goods” and are banned from commercial aircraft.

The result is a kink in the supply line and, for those who rely on medical devices powered by lithium batteries, more than a mild inconvenience. At present, these batteries are only permitted on cargo aircraft and cargo planes only fly to large airports. As a result, the batteries cannot get to their final destinations.

The world isn’t going to suddenly stop needing lithium ion batteries anytime soon, so this is a puzzle that needs a solution. But, you know what they say: Necessity is the mother of invention. Skolnik Industries and Labelmaster have been working together to devise a package that can safely contain spent lithium ion batteries for bulk transport. This overpack package would serve as a multi-pack solution for the batteries as well as a secondary spill containment measure should the batteries be compromised in transit.

While it is always a pleasure to work with our friends at Labelmaster, we’re eager to find a safe and strong solution to this problem. The project cannot be completed until the DOT releases its final testing requirements for these package types, and, as with all Skolnik Industries products, this lithium battery-safe overpack container would be rigorously tested to meet all pertinent DOT regulations.

Once the regulations are set, we look forward to providing shippers and manufacturers with a safe, efficient solution to lithium battery containment, and helping alleviate the delay for those who need battery replacements for their medical devices.