Risk management

Feb. 1, 2011
NTTC forms group to address issues related to OSHA's attempt to wrest control from DOT to regulate tractor-trailer fall protection

BELIEVING that “no one company is large enough to affect sufficient improvement,” the National Tank Truck Carriers Conference (NTTC) has formed the Cargo Tank Risk Management Committee (CTRMC) to deal with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) notice of proposed rulemaking entitled, “Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment (Fall-Protection Systems).”

In 1910.28, OSHA proposes to revise the walking-working surfaces standards and the personal protective equipment standards in its regulations. The proposal is estimated to reduce the number of fall-related employee deaths and injuries by updating the rule to include new technology (including personal fall-protection systems) and industry methods. The Department of Transportation currently holds regulatory oversight authority over highway transportation vehicles.

John Cannon of Walker Group Holdings was instrumental in getting the industry talking about the NPRM. Cannon led a panel discussion on fall protection during the National Tank Truck Carriers' 2010 Cargo Tank Maintenance Seminar that was held November 8-10 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Panelist Peter Weis of Polar Tank said “How can we retrofit and how can we go forward? This is a group effort. We don't want anybody hurt or product spilt on the highway, endangering the public.”

He said the CTRMC is interested in providing a safe environment for workers employed by shippers, carriers, manufacturers, and consignees.

“Sometimes stakeholders protect their interests at the peril of workers,” he said. “There's potential litigation. If we don't do something, somebody else will.”

The CTRMC composed a vision statement:

“A work environment where all cargo tank industry stakeholders live out the primary core value of safety first — and always. This environment will be one in which all stakeholders work in harmony to design industry-standard education, work processes, and equipment design measures that will keep workers safe on and around cargo tanks. Furthermore, the stakeholders will be represented by a committee of representatives from across the industry that are empowered with their respective segment's knowledge and support to create and publish such guidance in a way that will be most widely accepted, universally applicable, and engineers out risk to workers as much as is reasonably possible.”

The issues being addressed by the group are related to workers that perform functions on both straight and combination cargo tanks:

  • Stakeholders

    For the purposes of the work being done by the CTRMC, stakeholders include carriers, consignees, insurers, manufacturers, repairers, shippers, wash facilities, and others.

  • Workers

    Anyone whose job responsibilities require them to perform duties on or around a cargo tank for the purposes of cleaning, inspecting, loading, repairing, securing, or any other task essential to the bulk cargo business.

The mission statement: “Cargo tank industry stakeholders working together to create solutions aimed at reducing the hazards faced by workers on and around such equipment.”

The first meeting was held March 17, 2010 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, featuring more than 60 industry leaders, including shippers, carriers, wash racks, academia, and trade associations.

They shared ideas related to journeys of improvement (data, training, and cultural change), global examples of successes, Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA) RP No. 59 in terms of OSHA applicability, technology, and variety of tank trailer designs.

The CTRMC vowed to: form a steering committee, which it did at a September 10, 2010 meeting of representatives from industry leaders; publish a living document and other media that address workers on the top of tanks, which it has now started; and draft a long-term vision on how transportation tank processes and products can be improved to maximize worker safety atop tanks, which it also has started.

A second meeting was held June 29-30, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois, featuring ADM, Cargill, Dairy Farmers of America, Liberty Mutual, Quality Distribution, Schneider National, Sentinel Transportation, Superior Carriers, Transport Service, and Walker Group Holdings. The committee drafted the vision and mission statements and crafted a response to OSHA's NPRM, published in the Federal Register on May 24, 2010.

OSHA was seeking comment on whether it should include requirements covering workers on motor vehicles.

“Up till now, OSHA regulations did not cover rolling stock and commercial motor vehicles unless the vehicles were positioned inside or contiguous to a structure where insulation and fault protection is feasible,” Weis said. “The potential of the regulation is go to further and lead to possible mandated changes in trailer ladders and access.

“OSHA is not including any specific requirements pertinent to motor vehicles in proposed 1910.28. Rather, it will wait until the record is more fully developed to determine the appropriate course of action. If the agency receives sufficient comments and evidence to warrant additional rulemaking, a separate proposed rule will be issued.”

OSHA had specific questions for the industry to answer. Among them:

• What is your safety experience with fall hazards on or from motor vehicles?

The CTRMC‘s response: “While falls from the top of tank trailers can result in serious injury, the actual frequency of such incidents is very rare. The typical large cargo tank fleet makes over 300 deliveries a day, and averages less than two falls from its tank trailers per year. Furthermore most of the falls have been from the ladder, not tank top.”

• Should OSHA exclude motor vehicles from coverage under Subpart D?

The CTRMC‘s response: “Yes. Data and experience suggest that falls from transportation tanks are extremely low. Furthermore, the effective improvement in worker safety from fall-related injuries on transportation tanks is a complex challenge requiring participation from many industry stakeholders. CTRMC has been formed for this very purpose. In our experience, the best solutions come from those closest to the issue, and we have already started to affect positive change. Finally, our industry has many small businesses with fragile economic models. We need to ensure improvements in workers on transportation tanks are financially feasible, and CTRMC intends to develop a long-term plan to systematically improve in this important area.”

A third meeting was held September 8, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, featuring over 35 industry leaders.

The short-term goals: work with TTMA to create a new publication for a suggested retrofit ladder (side handrails, platform-type top step, retractable lower steps), collaborate with NTTC to develop a training and education video; create a North American hierarchy protocol; increase participation from other major industry stakeholders at future CTRMC meetings.

The long-term goals: eliminate the need to access cleanouts through technology and improvements (spinners, remote actuated cleanout valves); provide a consistent work environment above ground level; eliminate all ladders and walkways for worker use through the employment of technology and devices.

Said Cannon regarding his visit to the International Motor Show (IAA) last year in Germany: “Every single tank trailer I saw had a collapsible handrail that was activated with lever action or some other mechanical means.” 

About the Author

Rick Weber | Associate Editor

Rick Weber has been an associate editor for Trailer/Body Builders since February 2000. A national award-winning sportswriter, he covered the Miami Dolphins for the Fort Myers News-Press following service with publications in California and Australia. He is a graduate of Penn State University.