The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) this week approved an industry association’s application that will allow container chassis mechanics to qualify more efficiently to become equipment or brake inspectors.
The Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) requested the FMSCA exemption to implement the chassis inspection training through a “performance-based” approach rather than time-based as prescribed by the federal government.
The association’s training program is consistent with the IANA Guide to Chassis Inspection and Repair, which brings together 53 intermodal recommended practices that are necessary for the proper inspection and repair of intermodal chassis
Without the FMCSA exemption, IANA said an individual must have a combination of training or experience totaling at least one year to qualify for making intermodal equipment inspections.
The exemption does not specify how the training must be delivered. However, the FMCSA said based on its review of the association’s exemption application that qualification to make chassis inspections requires an individual to receive at least 480 hours of training, of which one-third is classroom-based and two-thirds is hands-on instruction.
“The anticipated benefits from this exemption are industry-wide, including greater safety, reduced roadside breakdowns and improved customer service,” said IANA President and CEO Joni Casey in a statement.
She added the exemption will also help chassis providers recruit and retain mechanics.
IANA noted there are between 25,000 and 30,000 mechanics in the U.S. who qualify to work on intermodal equipment. However, the industry requires upward of 40,000 mechanics and the turnover rate for these mechanics is about 20% a year, the association said.
“If the FMCSA approves of this training exemption, then we’re certainly fine with it,” said Mike Wilson, CEO of Consolidated Chassis Management (CCM), a chassis pool management company owned by the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA). “In our view, this is a progressive, sensible and effective way to train and retain much needed chassis mechanics.”