Hazardous materials hurt. More than 15,000 incidents involving hazardous materials occurred in 2020. Almost 14,000 of those incidents occurred on the highway.
Many companies have tunnel vision. They focus on transporting hazardous material, but they don’t think about containers or safety plans. Hazmat regulations are complicated, yet you need to know the various rules.
What are the laws about hazmat transportation? What do you need to do in order to store, contain, and transport hazardous materials? What should a truck driver do on the road when there is a fire or spill?
Answer these questions and you can avoid a devastating hazardous material accident. Here is your quick guide.
Hazardous Material Regulations
A hazardous material is any substance that poses a substantial threat to the public. The Department of Transportation has several classes of materials, each of which you should know.
Class 1 contains explosives. This class includes blasting agents and materials that manufacturers can use to make explosives. Class 2 contains gases, including non-flammable yet toxic ones.
Liquids that are flammable or combustible go into Class 3. Flammable solids or substances that can combust spontaneously are in Class 4. Oxidizers lie in Class 5.
Poisonous substances are in Class 6. Radioactive substances go in Class 7, while corrosive substances are in Class 8. Miscellaneous materials go in Class 9.
When you have a potentially hazardous material, you should figure out what class it is in. You should then label the containers that have the material with the class number.
You should also put the material in containers that are compatible with it. Acids should go into sturdy plastics, while oil should go into metal.
Determining whether a material is hazardous and finding out what class it is in are the first two steps you must meet for hazardous material transportation. You then must find the right hazard warning labels and containers.
You should advise your employees about the materials they are handling. They should receive training on how to respond to a leak. They should understand how to carry the containers into the vehicles and drive with them.
The shipper must maintain some documents. They should have written descriptions of the materials they are transporting. They should draft an itinerary describing how the materials are traveling and where they are going.
The shipper must draft a formal security plan. They must establish how they would respond to a fire or explosion on one of their trucks. All employees must know how they can evacuate a building or contact authorities during an emergency.
A company can choose any carrier of their choice. The DOT does not endorse any particular carriers or vendors. But they should talk to the carrier and make sure that they have sound safety regulations.
A company should examine the right kind of truck for themselves. They may need less than truckload shipping, or they may need an entire truck. There should be enough room for all containers, but there should not be too much excess space.
The storage facility for hazardous materials must be pristine. Sources of heat or fire should remain far away from flammable and combustible substances.
If a facility has multiple types of hazards, it should have multiple places to store the hazards. Materials that can combust in the open air should be separate from flammable substances.
Employees can use tools like forklifts and handcarts to transport containers from one place to another. But they should wear gloves, helmets, and eye goggles while doing so. Even a second of exposure to certain chemicals can cause significant damage.
Containers should not be stacked on top of each other. It may be okay to put containers on shelves, provided that someone can secure the containers onto the shelves.
Under no circumstances should a container be in a position to tip over. Employees should use belts and locks in order to secure containers down. This is especially important inside vans and trucks.
Drivers should follow good defensive driving techniques. They should signal before performing a turn, especially on a major roadway. They should avoid sudden stops and starts while leaving plenty of following distance between themselves and others.
All drivers should follow hours-of-service regulations. Sleepy and sloppy drivers cause accidents more often. Taking a break after eight hours of cumulative driving will promote safety.
Every emergency is different. Yet every employee should wear personal protective equipment once an incident occurs. This includes respirators, which will prevent them from inhaling toxic chemicals.
An employee can approach a tipped-over container and right it. If a small amount of material has spilled onto the floor, they can try to clean it up.
They should avoid using water and paper towels. They should instead use absorbent materials to soak the spilled substance up. Once that is done, they can disinfect the floor and container.
If a fire or explosion occurs, employees should prioritize evacuation. They should go to a location where their supervisors can do a headcount. They should then contact the authorities right away.
If an emergency occurs during transportation, employees should use their own discretion. They can fix a leaking or spilling container with minimal hassle. In the event of a fire, they should stop the vehicle and organize an evacuation.
Supervisors should be aware of the emergency as soon as possible. Even minor incidents should be investigated so they can avoid future events from occurring.
The Essentials of Hazmat Regulations
Hazmat regulations start with classifications. You need to know what class your hazardous material is in and what risks it poses to yourself and your employees.
You should find a good container and storage site for it. When you move the container, your workers should be careful. They should follow a formal safety plan that you have drafted.
Employee safety is the first priority during an emergency. Employees can fix minor incidents. But they should evacuate whenever something is beyond their capabilities.
Be mindful of your transportation solutions. Patriot Freight Group offers non-stop hazardous material transportation. Contact us today.