WITH revised civil and criminal penalties in effect, chemical distributors now face much higher consequences for rule violations, said J P Gibbons of North American Transportation Consultants Inc.
Gibbons reviewed recent changes to Department of Transportation safety and hazardous materials regulations at the Operations Seminar and Trade Show sponsored by the National Association of Chemical Distributors September 13-15 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“You'd better start saving paper,” he said, referring to the importance of keeping documents on file that may be later needed in the event of a compliance challenge.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has revised the baseline assessments for training and security plan violations. Non-compliance with the regulations could result in a fine of $450 per employee. Fines for security violations range from $3,000 to $7,000, and criminal violations could bring a jail sentence of five to 10 years. “Corporate officers can be held legally responsible,” he said, noting that the definition of corporate officer tends to be a rank of vice-president or higher.
If a fatality is involved in a civil violation, the fine can be as high as $100,000 per violation — that's up from $32,500 under previous regulations. Should the violation be deemed criminal, a fine of $250,000 to $500,000 can be imposed.
He noted that some violations for improper placarding could result in criminal liability under certain circumstances.
Gibbons noted that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is considering the use of electronic on-board recorders to collect driver hours-of-service (HOS) data. FMCSA wants supporting documents kept on file as well, such as drivers' hotel bills and delivery papers, so they can be compared with and confirm the HOS data.
Gibbons also addressed steps taken by PHMSA to better define a hazmat employee and employer. He reminded the audience that the information was published in the Dec 9, 2005, issue of the Federal Register and went into effect Jan 9, 2006. Some corrections were made in August 2006 and went into effect at that time.
Turning to international issues, he said some of the DOT regulations are being changed to harmonize with United Nations standards. The harmonization being considered includes changes to the shipping paper description sequence and amendments to the hazmat 172.101 table. Some of the revisions would address organic peroxide labels and placards and classification criteria for PGIII Class 3 (flammable liquids).
Several Class 3 materials that also have a subsidiary Class 6.1 are alcohols, flammable, toxic, and NOS (not otherwise specified, which means the material meets the Hazard Class Definition but is not listed by name in the 172.101 table of hazardous materials); allyl acetate; ethylene dichloride; flammable liquid, toxic; and methanol (6.1 for international shipments).