Harvison: Do the paperwork
Jun 1, 2003 12:00 PM
DO THE paperwork. That is the message to hazmat transporters from Cliff Harvison, president of the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC), regarding a new Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) rule. Published March 25 in The Federal Register, the rule requires hazmat carriers to implement security plans and add security elements to employee training programs.
“I can't stress enough that this is a paperwork deal,” Harvison said at the NTTC Safety Council meeting March 26-27 in Orlando FL. He discussed the new rule and other issues related to the industry, including wetlines, hazmat registration, hours of service, and owner-operator permits.
He emphasized the importance of documentation to comply with the new security rule. “You've got to show that you've written it down. That's where the violations will come from — lack of follow-through.
Although the new rule requires new security efforts on the parts of carriers, it does not contain the objectionable elements that many feared — such as requiring registration certificates be carried in the truck and requiring shippers to include registration numbers on shipping papers.
However, Harvison advised the carriers that another proposal may eventually require carriers to provide drivers with cell phones or outfit vehicles with satellite tracking devices.
On other security issues, Harvison said that unattended loading at terminals may be drawing to an end. Some terminals have already added guards and are conducting walk-around truck inspections. One company that handles high-hazard products has initiated the Homeland Security Department Code red for its facilities, which under the code means a severe risk of terrorist attacks.
Harvison advised carriers to communicate with customers to learn exactly what policies they are initiating at their terminals.
Turning to the wetlines issue, Harvison said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is in the process of gathering information, adding that the issue is “alive and well.” RSPA is studying the prospect of requiring tank wagons and tank trailers to have equipment that would purge loading lines of hazardous materials after loading and unloading so that no product would remain in the lines during transportation.
On February 10, RSPA announced it was seeking comments on its proposal and called for comments to determine whether regulatory changes are needed, and can be made in a cost-effective manner, according to information published in The Federal Register. Comments must be received by June 10, 2003.
Harvison also discussed a successful lawsuit brought against the Department of Transportation (DOT) by several consumer groups and others that requires DOT to follow through on several congressional mandates, including permitting for bulk carriers of high hazardous materials. Carriers would have to apply for the permit.
“This is not the RSPA registration program that carriers do every year,” Harvison said. “This will require more than the current registration program where carriers just pay a fee and sign up.”
Should a carrier find its permit revoked because of serious safety infractions, the company would not be able to transport products, and shippers will be required to use only carriers with the permit.
Harvison noted that the hours-of-service issue was on the front burner at the time of the meeting. After the NTTC meeting, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published the rules. Beginning January 4, 2004, drivers will be allowed to drive 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty as a result of the new hours-of-service rule. FMCSA released the information April 24.
Drivers may not drive beyond the 14th hour after coming on-duty, following 10 hours off-duty. Similar to existing rules, drivers may not drive after being on-duty for 60 hours in a seven-consecutive-day period, or 70 hours in an eight-consecutive-day period. This on-duty cycle may be restarted whenever a driver takes at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty, according to FMCSA.
Rules for the driver's daily log remain unchanged. Those drivers operating within a 100 air-mile radius of the their normal work location, who return to that location and are released from duty within 12 hours, will keep time cards as allowed under the current rules.
Short-haul truck drivers, those drivers who routinely return to their place of dispatch after each duty tour and then are released from duty, may have an increased on-duty period of 16 hours once during any seven-consecutive-day period. The 16-hour exception takes into consideration legitimate business needs without jeopardizing safety.
FMCSA estimates that without the extra two on-duty hours, the industry would be required to hire at least 48,000 additional drivers, actually reducing crash-reduction benefits.
The rule is the first substantial change in the hours-of-service rules since 1939, according to FMCSA. In addition, the agency plans to expand its research initiative on electronic onboard recorders and other technologies, including evaluating alternatives for encouraging or providing incentives for their use to ensure hours-of-service recordkeeping and compliance.
While FMCSA has concluded that the safety and economic data needed to justify the recorder requirement in the final rule are not available at this time, there are several technologies that offer significant promise.
The hours-of-service rule currently in effect allows 10 hours of driving within a 15-hour on-duty period after eight hours of off-duty time. Also, drivers may not drive after their 15th hour on duty in a workday or after 60 hours on-duty in seven consecutive days or 70 hours on-duty in eight consecutive days.
Vehicles used in oil-field operations, ground-water well-drilling operations, utility service, and transporting construction materials and equipment retain the 24-hour restart provision provided by the National Highway System Designation Act.
Agricultural operations will retain their current statutory exemption from driving time requirements when occurring within a 100 air-mile radius of a farm or distribution point during planting and harvesting seasons.
To see more information about the 68-page rule, go to the FMCSA Web site at fmcsa.dot.gov.
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