DOT proposes hazmat handling improvements
The U.S. Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on Friday proposed a rule that would enhance worker safety when transferring hazardous materials to and from railcars and trucks.
In specific, the proposed rule would require additional training for employees and new safety requirements for motor carriers and facilities that handle hazardous material transfers.
'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, in a statement.
PHMSA's data shows that the most dangerous part of transporting hazardous materials by trucks and rail occurs when cargo is transferred by hose or pipe between the holding facility and the rail or truck. The data also indicates human error and equipment failure cause the greatest number of incidents during loading and unloading operations, sometimes resulting in death.
Some of the requirements in the proposed rule include:
' Practice drills and classroom training for truck drivers and other workers who unload or load hazardous material.
' Training on automatic valve shutdown to ensure systems are in place and that employees know how to use the systems.
' Developing inspection and maintenance programs to ensure the safety of hoses, valves and other equipment used in loading and unloading.
'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,' said PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman. 'We believe these proposed changes will increase safety and ultimately reduce the likelihood of catastrophic hazardous material incidents during loading and unloading.'
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 recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board and one from the Chemical Safety Board.
Comments for the proposed rule are due to PHMSA by May 10. Read the Federal Register notice here.