If your business deals with, produces, or generates hazardous materials, you will probably deal with a commercial trucking firm to ensure the safe handling of those items.
Such firms are closely regulated under the Hazardous Materials Act of 1975 and amended. As the volume and variety of these materials has increased, the Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act (HMTUSA) was added in 1990. There have been numerous updates and additions in recent years. These laws and guidelines include severe criminal and civil penalties for any failure to comply.
Therefore, it is important you understand the standards any such firm must meet or exceed to warrant your trust and confidence.
A Wide Variety of Materials
You have probably noticed the double-triangular placard on the back and sides of eighteen wheelers. You may have known that it is a HAZMAT Placard designed to provide vital information about that specific shipment. Since there is a long list of the different types of materials, these placards convey important information through their hazard class number, color, graphics, words, and other details.
These placards are vital for first responders and other purposes, especially for rapid action needed in the event of an accident or other emergency.
Any substance, waste, pollutant, or other hazardous material is covered by the HAZMAT regulations. According to the EPA:
“A hazardous substance is any biological agent and other disease-causing agents which, after release into the environment and upon exposure, ingestion, inhalation, or assimilation into any person, will or may reasonably be anticipated to cause death, disease, behavioral abnormalities, cancer, genetic mutation, psychological malfunctions, or physiological deformations in such persons or their offspring.”
As an example of such materials covered by this definition, you will find:
- Spray paints and acid mists
- Welding, soldering, and galvanizing fumes
- Gases such as carbon monoxide and chlorine
- Vapors emitted by such items as adhesives, inks, and paints
- Marine pollutants
- Elevated temperature materials
As you can see, the designation of hazardous material will apply to far more items than the general public suspects. That puts the responsibility for both identifying and handling the materials on the producer and user. This in turn requires close coordination and communication with the shipper for safe and legal transportation of the materials.
Understanding the Risks
Aside from incurring fines and potential criminal liability, improper handling of hazardous materials can cause:
- Fatal or serious risks to humans and animals
- Environmental damage
- Property and physical damage
As any close evaluation of the immediate and long-term costs of mishaps in transporting hazardous materials will show, the financial impact can easily run into millions of dollars.
Taking a Proactive Stance
The complexities and comprehensiveness of HAZMAT regulations and laws are combined with extraordinary costs that mishandling can bring. This makes it imperative to select your hazardous materials shipper with care.
The team at Road Scholar Transport approaches their mission of carrying hazardous materials with the utmost attention to safety and compliance. Compare your shipper to these standards:
- Constant monitoring of the latest changes in all laws, rules and regulations at the local, state, and federal levels. The constant and rapid change in the types of materials and procedures for transporting them requires a proactive monitoring process that is rigidly followed.
- Drivers who are adequately trained. All HAZMAT drivers must be professionally and constantly trained in all aspects of their responsibilities. This includes multiple areas of training focus, including 1) safety, 2) security, 3) general awareness of hazardous material handling, and 4) material-specific training for the materials being transported.
- Corporate procedures that carefully track all shipments, detailed emergency procedures, records of driver training, and overall safety in training and maintenance.
All shippers must also provide evidence of the specific training, permitting, and licensing for the materials you will be shipping or receiving.
This is one area of your operations that must be approached with a rigorous commitment to “do it right and do it safely.”
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