May 31, 2022

Key Requirements for HAZMAT Transportation Employees

When it comes to understanding the various regulations regarding hazmat materials transportation, you can never ignore the directives laid down by governing bodies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration which is also a part of the Department of Transportation.

A lot of these regulations overlap one another. Some of these also include ensuring that your employees who are involved in the transportation of hazardous materials are trained and qualified for the job that they have to perform. They must be adequately skilled and formally trained to handle hazardous materials so that they can maintain the safety of the vehicle in addition to their own and that of the people using the same roads as them. This means that they also have to take care of the safety and well-being of other workers at the office premises that they work with and the public at large. This is why it is not just recommended that you ensure adequate training of your employees but mandated by the law. As an employee involved in hazmat transportation, they must understand these regulations. They must also do all in their power to meet these regulations without fail.

Who is a HAZMAT Employer?

What qualifies as a hazmat employer? This is a critical aspect of hazmat training that you will have to understand. If you are a business owner or owner of a facility that either accepts or provides hazardous material as a part of its business operations, you will be considered a hazmat employer. According to the definition given by the department of transportation, a hazmat employer can be a person who uses his employees to deal with the transportation of hazardous materials in commerce. This results in hazardous materials being transported or shipped from one location to another. It also involves the representing, marking, moving, offering, certifying, selling, manufacturing, testing, repairing, reconditioning, and modifying of hazardous materials and various containers, drums, or other packages used in the transportation of hazardous materials.

So all in all, if your business deals with hazardous materials, you will be called a hazmat employer. The employer, which is you in this case, will be required to ensure that all your employees are always properly trained and dressed appropriately to ensure their safety. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration lays down a few regulations related to the transportation of hazardous materials. There are no exceptions when it comes to the size of the business or whether the individual is employed on a full-time part-time or temporary basis.

Who is a HAZMAT Employee?

Any employee in your organization who deals with hazardous materials and their transportation will be categorized as a hazmat employee. Their responsibilities extend beyond driving or loading or unloading vehicles. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration defines a hazmat employee as somebody who loads, unloads, handles, transports, tests, reconditions, modifies, identifies, repairs, and transports any kind of hazardous materials. Even an employee who prepares hazmat for transportation will be categorized as a hazmat employee. These personnel are also responsible for the safety of the entire transportation process. They might be responsible for operating the vehicle that is used to transport hazardous materials. So yes, even if you have an office secretary who is remotely associated with the handling or describing of hazmat shipping containers or any hazardous materials, will also fall under the category of hazmat employee.

The Importance of Hazardous Materials Training

You should know that extensive and appropriate training is necessary when it comes to maintaining the safety of everyone involved in hazardous materials transportation. Training is actually the first step that helps you reduce any chances of hazmat-related incidents caused by mishandling or human error. According to PHMSA, training with regards to hazardous materials handling is a reliable means of preventing and reducing hazardous materials incidents in transportation. Adequate and appropriate HAZMAT training enhances the safety and security of all the employees working with hazardous materials and it also increases their productivity and overall skills. It also reduces any operating costs and damages arising from hazardous materials incidents.

HAZMAT Training Requirements

As laid down by the Hazardous Materials Regulations, a hazmat employer must train and certify each one of his hazmat employees before they can begin handling, maintaining, or transporting any hazardous materials. Refresher training is also a requirement that hazmat employers and employees have to fulfill once every 3 years. Any kind of hazmat training that you choose should include general awareness about hazardous materials, various training modules that are specific to the hazardous materials being handled, safety training, function-specific training, security awareness, and also in-depth security training whenever the need arises.

General Awareness/Familiarization Training (49 CFR 172.704(a)(1))

There is a hazmat general awareness training module that every hazmat employee has to complete. It is about hazardous materials handling and it encompasses general knowledge about how to maintain everyone’s safety at the workplace. It also trains the employee on how to recognize and identify hazardous materials.

Safety Training (49 CFR 172.704(a)(3))

In addition to general awareness training, there is another module that an employee has to complete which is the safety training. It addresses several critical emergency concerns and contains response information that comes in handy when they are faced with difficult situations. This module educates hazmat employees on various measures they can use to protect employees from any dangers associated with exposure to hazardous materials. It also lists down various methods and procedures to avoid any potential hazmat-related accidents.

Security Awareness Training (49 CFR 172.704(a)(4))

Security awareness training is also very critical because transportation of hazardous materials presents a very big risk both to the health and safety of the employees involved. It is a mandatory requirement for all hazmat employees to go through this training module. As, It helps them identify potential security risks as a result of any hazmat mishandling, misrepresentation, or misinformation. It also prescribes various methods to improve transportation security when moving hazardous materials from one location to another. If you have any employees that are responsible for implementing DOT security plans in your company, they must receive this training as well. Similarly, any employees performing specific duties under that security plan should also complete the in-depth security training (172.704 (a)(5)). This module is 100% company-specific and it should be created by the individual enterprise only.

Function-specific Training (49 CFR 172.704(a)(2))

Another requirement laid down by the Hazardous Materials Regulation is that function or job-specific training with regard to hazmat handling should be provided to the employee. For example, if any of your employees are directly involved in the moving of packaged and marked boxes of hazardous materials from the ground to the vehicle, they should go through an in-depth training course to prevent any on-the-job hazmat exposure. This should be made mandatory for the employee who handles hazardous materials regularly and so closely.

Prevent Hazardous Headaches by Maintaining Your Records

It is the responsibility of all your hazmat employees to maintain their documents and record the progress of their training modules as they go through their training. They will also be responsible for initiating and completing their own refresher training modules every 3 years. As an employer, it is your responsibility to coordinate with your employees to make sure that their training is completed regularly without fail.

If there have been any changes to the duties or responsibilities of the employees, the corresponding changes should be made to their training courses as well. Any hazmat employees in your company who have failed to complete their retraining modules may not be allowed to perform any hazmat-specific functions or duties at all.

It is your responsibility as well to record their progress and document their course completion on time. These records must include the name of the employee, the course material that they have used, the certification for which they have trained and tested, the training provider, name of the trainer, date, and address, etc.

Remember, hazmat shipping and handling involve a lot of potential risks and dangers both to the people involved and the property where these operations are being performed. That’s why regulatory agencies have issued these requirements that must be followed by every hazmat employer and employee.

The federal register says that the maximum civil penalty can be up to $75,000 for a person who violates these hazardous material laws and regulations purposefully. So, this training is not only required to stay safe but also to prevent your businesses from any penalties that can lead to a dent in your goodwill. Remember to keep a solid understanding of all these key requirements if you are a hazmat employer or hazmat employee. This is a dependable way to stay away from any administrative headaches and painful penalties that you might have to pay if you are caught violating any of these guidelines, rules, and regulations.



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