Jul 1, 2005 12:00 PM
A CASE involving nitrogen in offloading cargo from a tank trailer has prompted a warning to shippers that they may have a duty to ensure proper load securement, said Eric Larson Zalud, an attorney with Benesch Friedlander Coplan and Aronoff.
Although federal regulations say the driver/carrier is responsible for proper loading/unloading, and several cases have found carriers negligent in their actions, the nitrogen case has caused some reconsiderations, he said.
Zalud discussed the issue at the NTTC Annual Conference and Tank Truck Equipment Show May 9-11 in Chicago, Illinois.
In the case described above, a shipper employee used nitrogen in the offloading process for an owner-operator tanker rig. Later when the owner-operator's employee died while entering the nitrogen-laden tank during cleaning, the owner-operator, carrier, and shipper were sued in the fatality. The case was eventually settled.
The case showed that the shipper had no set offloading procedures and no nitrogen-use standards. There appeared to be no notice to the driver that nitrogen was being applied.
At the same time, the carrier was unaware of the owner-operator's tank wash or its lack of training procedures for confined-space entry. Nevertheless, the carrier did have a contract with the owner-operator.
The situation is a warning to carriers to be sure their contracts are properly structured should a similar accident occur, Zalud said.
He also advised carriers to properly train employees in loading/offloading procedures and to maintain training documentation.
Any company involved in the use of nitrogen should have a detailed policy for safe handling, he added.
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