PHMSA wants industry input on hazmat shipping papers

March 17, 2015

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is asking tank truck carriers to participate in a voluntary online data collection effort to aid in the assessment of potential impacts, including cost-benefit information, associated with using paperless communication systems (e-systems) to transfer hazardous materials (HM) shipping paper information. Information is being gathered as part of PHMSA’s HM-ACCESS (Hazardous Materials-Automated Cargo Communications for Efficient and Safe Shipments) Project, also known as the Paperless Hazard Communications Pilot Program.

HM-ACCESS is a pilot program under Section 33005 of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2012 (MAP-21). The purpose of the program is to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of paperless hazardous materials (e-HM) systems to provide a level of safety equivalent to or better than the current HM shipping paper requirement, thereby facilitating commercial efficiency while maintaining and possibly enhancing safety.

Under MAP-21, the feasibility and effectiveness evaluation needs to consider the concerns and impacts to a variety of HM stakeholders, including Federal and State authorities, emergency responders, law enforcement investigators, and the HM industry, specifically shippers and carriers.

PHMSA’s HM-ACCESS team has been working with HM stakeholders and developed a plan for conducting the MAP-21 required pilot tests and associated data collection effort. In 2013, PHMSA published 60-Day and 30-Day Federal Register Notices, seeking pilot test participant volunteers, as well as input and comments on the planned data collection activities. In September 2014, PHMSA received approval to proceed with the next steps for conducting the pilot tests and collecting information to support the impact analysis.

PHMSA is currently in the process of conducting pilot tests with volunteer HM stakeholders who prepare (i.e., shippers), move (i.e., carriers), inspect (i.e., law enforcement investigators), and respond to accidents (i.e., emergency responders) involving HM. The pilot tests are being conducted with selected participants, within five US regions (Western, Central, Southwestern, Southern, and Eastern), and will include at least one rural area, as required by MAP-21.

The tests are designed to collect data regarding the feasibility, effectiveness, and safety associated with electronic transfer of HM shipping paper data between HM stakeholders during inspection and emergency response simulations utilizing participants’ existing equipment and resources. The pilot tests began on February 17, 2015 and will continue for 10 ½ weeks, concluding on April 30, 2015.

Concurrent with conducting the pilot tests, PHMSA is collecting data to analyze the impacts of using e-systems for communicating HM shipping paper information. Potential impacts to be assessed include benefits, costs, safety, and security impacts on the public, emergency responders, and law enforcement.

In support of this data collection effort, the HM-ACCESS Team has developed an Impact Analysis Questionnaire designed to collect relevant information across all HM stakeholder types (i.e., shippers, carriers, inspectors, and emergency responders). The questionnaire is being administered online and is available to all pilot test participants, volunteers that did not qualify as participants, and other HM stakeholders, including technology vendors, who have previously contacted PHMSA regarding HM-ACCESS.

Participation in this online information collection effort is completely voluntary and will be limited to the first 250 respondents. Completing the online questionnaire will also require completing the attached Informed Consent Form.   Completion of the online questionnaire is expected to conservatively take no more than 60 minutes. PHMSA will not provide any monetary compensation for completing the question set and will make every effort to ensure respondents’ answers remain private to the extent provided by law.

The Impact Analysis Questionnaire will be available for completion until the first completed 250 responses are received or until April 30, 2015 (pilot test end date), whichever is sooner. The questionnaire can be accessed via the following link: Concurrent with the questionnaire, please complete the attached Impact Analysis Informed Consent Form and send it to [email protected].