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CVSA clarifies seal guidelines

An increasing number of roadside inspections are revealing that cargo seals on trailers/containers are being broken without noting the breakage or using a replacement seal, according to information from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). Broken seals result in rejection and condemnation of loads with security that had not been otherwise compromised.

Due to the recent complaints, CVSA is recommending that jurisdictions having the legal authority to break seals, and no policy on entering and resealing locked trailers/containers during commercial motor vehicle inspections or searches use the following guidelines (taken from prior CVSA North American Standard Level I Course Material):

•Breaking Seals on Vehicles: The agency involved in driver-vehicle examinations should establish a procedure concerning the breaking of seals on motor vehicles in the course of an inspection of the motor carrier's equipment, or for any other approved safety purpose. Under no circumstances should the U.S. Postal Service or Department of Defense seals or locks be broken for the purpose of inspecting cargo on the vehicle. If the lading involves a seal of other U.S. Government shipments, contact must be made with the agency involved prior to removal.

•Replacing Broken Seals: If the agency involved in driver-vehicle examinations elects to break seals during inspections, a replacement seal should be furnished. The replacement seals should not be applied to vehicles having no seals, nor to vehicles with prior broken seals. In all cases where a seal is broken and replaced, the inspector should make a notation on the driver-vehicle examination report, and obtain the signature of a witness.

CVSA strongly encourages jurisdictions to remind roadside inspectors to account for and replace any seals broken by that inspector during the course of the commercial motor vehicle inspection or search. These guidelines are suggested for use until CVSA develops a "best practice" on replacing broken seals, including uniform forms and procedures. The CVSA Vehicle Committee will be developing these standards at the Annual Conference in Toronto. These guidelines will not be intended to supercede the policies that jurisdictions already have in place, but rather to serve as a recommendation for development and enhancement of replacement cargo seal policies.

For those who would like to share their policies and practices on entering and resealing locked trailers/containers, please send any information to Julie Strawhorn at CVSA Headquarters by e-mail [email protected], or fax 301-564-0588 by March 31, 2003.

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