20 May 2008 00:00 [Source: ICB]
US-based shipper A. Duie Pyle hosts a Chemical Day to highlight the importance of safety when transporting hazardous materials
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John Hoffman/New York
SAFETY ON the road is paramount when transporting chemicals. And the chemical, trucking and transportation industries are cooperating with the US government to adopt ever more thorough guidelines and procedures for enhancing safety.
On April 23, shipper A. Duie Pyle hosted a Chemical Day symposium on transportation safety. Company officials, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and law enforcement agencies outlined the steps and security measures companies need to take to comply with safety laws and avoid accidents and criminal acts.
Pete Dannecker, A. Duie Pyle's director of loss prevention, kicked off the discussion with a sobering speech in which he outlined a scenario whereby a truck driver with a poor safety record - or even a terrorist posing as a legitimate driver - might get hired by mistake.
To ensure that only reliable people are hired to store and transport chemicals, Dannecker recommends that companies investigate potential drivers thoroughly before hiring them.
"We run the MVR [motor vehicle registration] when a driver first applies," Dannecker said. In addition to interviewing the driver, checking his Social Security number and running a criminal record check, A. Duie Pyle requires its drivers to complete road and psychological tests.
"We not only verify previous employment before we put a driver behind the wheel - we check all employment for at least the three previous years," Dannecker said. "If you don't do that, how do you know what they were doing? How do you know they weren't in prison? How do you know they weren't working for a trucking [company] that they didn't list on their application, where they were fired on suspicion of stealing drums of chemicals?"
In answer to the question: "How do you get security-conscious employees?", Dannecker's advice is to train them.
"Terrorists and professional criminals avoid places where the workforce is attentive," he says, calling professionalism a deterrent to terrorism. He stresses that people transporting chemicals need to be aware of their surroundings, use proper communication methods and be suspicious of anyone trying to stop them because of an alleged accident.
Joe Evans, northeast director for hazardous materials, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)/US Department of Transportation (DOT), says the most common causes of security violations are failing to develop risk assessment procedures and not developing and adhering to security plans.
Evans advises chemical shippers and manufacturers to examine their operations to see where they are vulnerable in three basic areas: personnel, access to hazardous materials and transporting those materials.
Shippers and manufacturers need to determine if the materials they are transporting qualify as hazardous and are subject to DOT transportation requirements. Companies must then ensure that the materials are properly described, packaged, labeled, marked, placarded and in condition for transportation.
Evans notes that hazardous material regulations are updated constantly, but major changes are usually implemented over several years before they become mandatory.
Many regulatory changes have also resulted from the US adopting international standards for the transportation of hazardous materials.
For further information, Evans advises chemical shippers and manufacturers to consult the Code of Federal Regulations, 49 CFR Parts 100-185, as well as the Department of Transportation's websites, www.fmcsa.dot.gov, www.phmsa.dot.gov and www.tsa.gov, and hazmat motor carrier security self-assessment training.
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