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Essential Training Requirements for Hazardous Waste Haulers

January 2, 2020

As if life weren’t complicated enough per government standards, the training requirements for hazmat waste haulers are regulated simultaneously by three different agencies: your friends at the EPA, those at OSHA, and their counterparts at the federal DOT. There’s also the FMSCA and the TSA. (See sidebars below.)

A little bit of history

By way of review, the EPA is an independent agency of the federal government. It was proposed and established 50 years ago by the executive order of Richard Nixon. It’s mission was and remains to consolidate a variety of federal research, monitoring, standard-setting, and enforcement activities into one agency—keeping us all earth-friendly by dint of law and threat of fine.

That very same year, the Occupational Safety and Health Act that gives us OSHA was enacted by Congress and signed into law by that very same president. As you undoubtedly know, OSHA is a veritable Hydra of workplace health & safety standards for both private- and public-sector employees. Don’t mess with them.

And then there’s the federal DOT. It was established by an act of Congress in 1966, as a federal Cabinet department concerned with all facets of transportation: cars, trains, trucks, planes, boats…anything with wheels or wings or a keel…and especially if it’s hauling hazmat: the topic at hand.

So who’s actually in charge?

Okay, this gets complicated. The afore-mentioned Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH) states that OSHA doesn’t own jurisdiction over workplace health & safety if another federal agency exercises statutory authority in this area.

U.S. courts interpret this peculiarity of the OSH Act using a so-called “gap theory” or “hazard-by-hazard” approach. E.g., if the DOT has a regulation that would reduce or eliminate a workplace hazard, it’s regulations are applicable. If it doesn’t, then OSHA regulations apply.

Think about that: The authority that decides which agency is alpha are “the courts,” which would suggest that such interpretations are forthcoming after you’ve done something one or the other agency doesn’t like, haplessly instigating a litigious dogfight between the two that’s all about you.

Ever hear of the FMSCA?

In order to become certified as a hazmat hauler, besides OSHA, the EPA, and the DOT, you need to pay attention to something called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA).

A visit to the FMSCA website informs:

“No person may offer or accept a hazardous material for transportation in commerce unless that person is registered in conformance with subpart G of Part 107 of [Chapter (49 CFR 171.2(a)]…and the hazardous material is properly classed, described, packaged, marked, labeled, and in condition for shipment as required or authorized…”

As we’re fond of counseling our readers: get expert advice. But ever onward…

How do the EPA and DOT comingle?

In deference to the fact that hazardous waste transporters use public roads, highways, rails, and waterways—regulations for container specifications, labeling, marking, and placarding are primarily developed by the DOT, with EPA input.

Concerns primary to the EPA that your staff need to know about:

  • EPA Identification Numbers. The EPA requires all hazmat haulers to have an EPA ID number, which is assigned to a transportation company as a whole rather than requiring each of its trucks to have its own unique ID.
  • Hazardous waste manifests. The EPA requires that a manifest accompany the movement of a hazardous waste “cradle to grave.” This manifest indelibly attaches a waste to your enterprise as it migrates from its point of origin to its ultimate destination facility—be it storage, treatment, recycling, or whatever.
  • Accidental discharges. Hazmat transport drivers must be properly trained to take immediate action in the event of an accidental hazmat discharge, including but not limited to notifying local authorities, and diking the discharge area to protect health and minimize any environmental impact.

Concerns primary to the DOT that they need to know about:

  • CDL-Class A. As a first requirement, a hazmat hauler must have an active Commercial Driver’s License (CDL- Class A)—and a safe driving record. If you or your employee doesn’t have this license already—understand that regulations for its acquisition aren’t consistent from state to state.

Most states, however, require a learning “permit” period during which a CDL applicant drives with an experienced CDL holder in the vehicle. In due course, the applicant must pass a driving skills test, usually administered by the state DOT.

TSA Background Check Requirements

The federal Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) must conduct a background check as part of the hazmat-hauler application process, which takes up to 60 days to complete.

  • Hazmat-specific training. If a person has an active CDL-Class A, safe driving record, and is 21 years of age or older, he or she is duly qualified to make application for hazmat certification. Additional requirements include proof of citizenship or legal residence, medical and optometric exams. There is also a TSA background check.
  • Hazmat knowledge test. The DOT requires that hazmat drivers be tested for appropriate training in such areas as transit operations between destination points, proper handling of hazardous materials during loading and unloading, safest ways to readjust and re-secure loads while in transit, and more.

A comprehensive look

Given that regulations for hazardous waste transport ooze from three-to-five different agencies depending on how you count ‘em up, we asked our experts to come up with a comprehensive list of training requirements.

Alas, they advise that given the expansive and dynamic nature of federal regulations, it’s impossible to do so definitively at any point in time. What was here today might be gone tomorrow, replaced by something else while you weren’t looking.

Added to that: remember that required training is both “initial and recurrent.” In government parlance, this means it must be updated periodically—usually annually.

With those caveats, our experts provided what is necessarily a partial list of training that your hazmat hauling employees must receive, as there might be more depending on individual job duties.

Among them:

  • Security awareness training about the security risks associated with hazmat transportation, and specific methods designed to diminish them
  • Function-specific training relative to the particular knowledge and skills required for an individual to perform assigned hazmat-transport responsibilities properly and safely
  • Safety training for drivers, warehouse workers, and any other employees who handle any hazardous waste in advance, during, and/or subsequent to its transportation
  • Specialized driver training pertaining to vehicle inspection and operation; vehicle handling in diverse conditions; and special rules pertaining to tunnels, bridges, and railroads (see FMSCA)
  • Advanced security training for companies required to have a security plan relative to their hazardous waste management
  • HAZWOPER certification (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) for employees who must drive onto hazardous waste sites, enter EPA-regulated TSDF, or respond to hazardous waste emergencies

An easy cost-effective solution

Hazardous Waste Experts offers comprehensive hazmat-transport initial and recurrent training programs developed by regulatory experts who have unsurpassed industry expertise—as well as being experienced instructors.

Using the latest techniques and technology, they can teach your employees what they need to know: both those directly involved in hazmat transport (as drivers) or tangentially (as hazmat handlers before and after delivery).

Learn more now about how Hazardous Waste Experts can help you stay in regulatory compliance with all interested federal, state, and local agencies by calling (800) 936-2311.

Disposal of hazardous waste doesn’t have to be painful.