Survey says: Complex hazmat transport regs would even “challenge Einstein”

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor

Is complying with the multitude of regulations for the transport of hazardous materials—also known as dangerous goods (DG)—truly a challenge? According to 136 shipping executives surveyed online in April 2015 by Labelmaster, a provider of solutions for hazardous material transport compliance, even Albert Einstein would have had problems figuring out some of the rules.

More than half of the 136 executives polled—56%—said the brainy Einstein would have difficulties figuring out the 49 CFR, one of the government’s primary reference books that cover regulations, requirements and standards for U.S. hazmat transportation via highway, rail, air and water.

The survey also revealed a majoriy—59%—find it a challenge to keep with the ever- changing DG regulations.

“Between the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense, there are literally thousands of regulations governing the shipment of dangerous goods,” said Robert Finn, Vice President of Marketing with Labelmaster. “And, these complex regulations constantly change. Just two examples are the proliferation of new rules for the shipment of lithium cells and batteries, and new regulations for the burgeoning crude oil rail carriage industry.”

“Yet, following these regulations is essential to ensure safety of the public, the environment and those who transport dangerous goods,” Finn added. “Improper packaging or labeling can lead to accidents and fatalities.”

Survey respondents certainly understood these issues, according to Labelmaster. When asked to name the challenging aspect of meeting DG transport regulations, there were several responses with the number one being “the regulations change all the time,” as cited by 18%. The fact that “regulations are different when using different transportation modes” ranked second at 15%, followed by “the regulations are confusing—everyone has a different interpretation,” cited by 14%.

The survey also revealed that DG pros have a high level of job satisfaction and take pride in keeping more than 1.4 million daily DG shipments in the U.S. moving safely from origination to destination.

“Most DG professionals are looking for training and integrated solutions to simplify their role. Fortunately, for those responsible in this critical part of a company’s operations, there are many resources available to clarify the complexity,” Finn said. “Many firms rely on outside experts and consultants to help simplify and customize regulations by offering software, training and customized products and other personalized items, all with one goal: safe, compliant shipments.”

DG shipping software can provide up-to-date information on the latest regulations; a validation feature to ensure non-compliant shipments can’t be executed; visual explanations for package markings; and cover all modes of transportation, Finn said.

“For the company armed with knowledge, materials and support, the process need not be complicated, even for an Albert Einstein,” Finn added.

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