Transporting hazardous materials requires care, attention, and specific training certified by the Department of Transportation (DOT). It’s essential that employers understand what qualifies as a hazardous material and what this means for their employee training requirements.
Am I a Department of Transportation Hazardous Materials Employer?
If you are unsure whether your business is classified as such, you may be putting the public and environment at risk. What’s more, you could be exposing your business to significant fines. Hazardous materials employers are required to ensure that all employees performing DOT hazmat functions complete DOT hazmat training at least on a triennial basis as required by 49 CFR 172.704. Failure to provide DOT hazmat training is the only DOT hazmat regulation that carries a mandatory minimum penalty, which as of May 3, 2021, is $508 per employee per day. That may not seem like a significant amount at first glance but let’s take a look at how easily that penalty can add up.
Our hypothetical scenario is a painting business that creates small amounts of hazardous waste. There are four painters in total that add a flammable hazardous waste to a drum that is picked up for disposal by a third-party hazardous waste hauler every few months. All hazardous raw materials are received in limited quantities that do not trigger hazmat employer applicability. And so, there has been an incorrect assumption that these regulatory requirements do not apply since the waste is being picked up by a reputable company that has never mentioned anything about training requirements.
The truck carrying the waste is subjected to a DOT inspection while your load is on the truck. Due to some minor paperwork inconsistencies, this leads the DOT compliance officer to visit your plant. The compliance officer requests copies of your hazardous waste manifests, which are required to be maintained for at least three years, as well as the training records for the four painters that add hazardous waste to the waste drum. The manifests are provided as requested, but training for the painters has not been completed.
We now have a documented record of a business shipping hazardous waste for three years with four untrained painters adding hazardous waste into the drum. The penalty of $508 per employee per day times 1,095 days with 4 employees could be up to $2,225,040. Now that you have a better idea of how easily the fines can increase, let’s discuss what the DOT considers to be a hazardous material and which activities performed by your employees will classify your business as a DOT hazmat employer.
What is a Department of Transportation Hazardous Material?
The Department of Transportation defines a hazardous material as a substance or material that the Secretary of Transportation has determined is capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce and has been so designated. This includes materials designated as hazardous in the Hazardous Materials Table (49 CFR 172.101), as well as hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, marine pollutants, and elevated temperature materials.
A hazardous substance is a material, including its mixtures or solutions, that is listed in Appendix A to 49 CFR 172.101, and is in a quantity, in one package, that equals or exceeds the reportable quantity listed in Appendix A. These are extremely hazardous substances that will require a report to be filed with the Environmental Protection Agency if the release of just one container were to occur.
A hazardous waste is any material that is subject to the Hazardous Waste Manifest Requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency specified in 40 CFR part 262. This includes flammable or ignitable wastes, corrosive wastes, reactive wastes, and toxic wastes.
A marine pollutant is a material that is listed in Appendix B to §172.101 of this subchapter (also see §171.4) and, when in a solution or mixture of one or more marine pollutants, is packaged in a concentration that equals or exceeds:
- Ten percent by weight of the solution or mixture for materials listed in the appendix; or
- One percent by weight of the solution or mixture for materials that are identified as severe marine pollutants in the appendix.
Marine pollutants transported by water, in any size packaging, are subject to all the applicable requirements. Whereas marine pollutants transported by highway, rail, or air are subject to the requirements only when transported in BULK packaging.
An elevated temperature material indicates a material that, when offered for transportation or transported in a bulk packaging:
- Is in a liquid phase and at a temperature at or above 100°C (212°F);
- Is in a liquid phase with a flashpoint at or above 38°C (100°F) that is intentionally heated and offered for transportation or transported at or above its flash point; or
- Is in a solid phase and at a temperature at or above 240°C (464°F).
What Operational Activities Will Classify My Business as a HazMat Employer?
A DOT hazmat employer is a business whose employees directly affect the safety of hazardous materials transportation. DOT hazmat training is required for all employees who perform any of the following DOT hazmat tasks:
- Loads, unloads, or handles hazardous materials.
- Designs, manufactures, fabricates, inspects, marks, maintains, reconditions, repairs, or tests a package, container, or packaging component that is represented, marked, certified, or sold as qualified for use in transporting hazardous material in commerce.
- Prepares hazardous materials for transportation:
- Determining the hazard class of a hazardous material.
- Selecting a hazardous materials packaging.
- Filling a hazardous materials packaging, including a bulk packaging.
- Securing a closure on a filled or partially filled hazardous materials package or container or on a package or container containing a residue of a hazardous material.
- Marking or labeling a package to indicate that it contains a hazardous material.
- Preparing a shipping paper.
- Providing and maintaining emergency response information.
- Reviewing a shipping paper to verify compliance with the HMR (Hazardous Material Regulations) or international equivalents.
- For each person importing a hazardous material into the United States, providing the shipper with timely and complete information as to the hazardous materials regulation requirements that will apply to the transportation of the material within the United States.
- Certifying that a hazardous material is in proper condition for transportation in conformance with the requirements of the HMR.
- Loading, blocking, and bracing a hazmat package in a freight container or transport vehicle.
- Segregating a hazmat package in a freight container or transport vehicle from incompatible cargo.
- Selecting, providing, or affixing placards for a freight container or transport vehicle to indicate that it contains a hazardous material.
- Is responsible for the safety of transporting hazardous materials.
- Operates a vehicle used to transport hazardous materials.
What to Do if You Discover Opportunity Areas
U.S. Compliance can help to reduce your risk if you identify gaps when it comes to your DOT hazmat training obligations. Whether it be through on-site training, or our bi-monthly webinar training, we offer a variety of solutions to train your staff on DOT hazmat regulations. This training will help keep you up to date and in compliance. Contact U.S. Compliance today to discover how we can help!