Rule proposes more hazmat training, safety

Updated Mar 15, 2011

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on March 10 announced a proposed rule that would require additional training for employees and new safety requirements for motor carriers and facilities that transfer hazardous materials to and from rail cargo and highway cargo trucks.

“This rule would help cut the safety risks to workers loading and unloading hazardous materials and to people living near those facilities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

PHMSA data show the most dangerous part of transporting hazardous materials by highway cargo trucks and by rail occurs when the hazardous material is being transferred by hose or pipe between the holding facility and the rail or truck transporting it. Also, human error and equipment failure cause the greatest number of incidents during loading and unloading operations, according to data.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would require practice drills and classroom training for truck drivers and other workers who unload or load hazardous material, training on automatic valve shutdown to ensure the systems are in place and that employees know how to use the systems. The rule calls forr developing inspection and maintenance programs to ensure the safety of hoses, valves and other equipment used in loading and unloading.

PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman said between October and December 2010, five of the six incidents involving death or major injury were related to the loading and unloading of hazardous materials. “We believe these proposed changes will increase safety and ultimately reduce the likelihood of catastrophic hazardous material incidents during loading and unloading,” Quarterman said.

Over the past 10 years, fatal and serious accidents during the process of transferring hazardous materials between rail or trucks and holding tanks prompted two related recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board and one from the Chemical Safety Board.

The public comment period ends 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. The proposed rule is available at Comments may be submitted at; the docket number is PHMSA-2007-28119.