2018 Dangerous Goods Symposium speaker Peter Mackay: Survey data is ammunition.

Peter Mackay, editor-in-chief of HCB, will introduce the results of the 2018 Dangerous Goods Confidence Survey during the 13th annual Dangerous Goods Symposium, September 5–7, 2018, in Rosemont, Illinois.

Revealing the results of the annual Dangerous Goods Confidence Survey has become a mainstay of the Dangerous Goods Symposium. Co-sponsored by Labelmaster, HCB and—for the first time this year—IATA, the survey is the definitive snapshot of the DG community’s trends, practices and opinions, and Peter Mackay is one of the survey’s driving forces.

“I’ve been talking to hazmat pros for 25 years and heard the same sorts of complaints—that regulators don’t know what they’re doing,” Mackay says. “The survey data now gives us the ammunition to go to regulators and say, ‘These are the issues we’re facing.’”

Providing intelligence to the conversation

Mackay stresses that the relationship between the DG community and regulators isn’t one-sided. In fact, it’s becoming more of a conversation.

“When PHMSA puts out a request for public comment on a regulation, they tend to hear only from those who don’t like it, and they don’t hear from the people who like it. The survey provides intelligence to the conversation, so we can all be clear about where things are wrong.”

Some people might find it surprising that DG professionals could approve of new regulations or favor stronger enforcement—but not Mackay.

“Shippers have always asked regulators, ‘What are you doing about people who don’t do it right? We get fined, but we all know people who aren’t even trying. Find out who they are and take them to the cleaners!’

There’s a cost to being compliant, and those who aren’t are saving that money. From a public safety point of view, that’s not right. That’s why many hazmat pros want tougher fines, imposed with intelligence, to establish a difference between those who are trying to do it right and those who are not even trying.”

“It’s a complex business.”

Something else that might surprise casual observers is the degree of cooperation between regulatory bodies and the hazmat shippers whose businesses they regulate.

“It’s a complex business, and it’s easy for people who don’t understand that complexity to think it’s not good for industry and regulators to be too friendly. What they don’t understand is that if you’re writing regulations on, say, gases in cylinders, you need to have someone who knows about gases in cylinders, and those are the people in the industry.

DOT doesn’t have the money to employ experts in every field. Things change very quickly. There are new products you never even thought of, and you have to find solutions within the regulations. You can’t expect government to be on top of everything.”

Expectations for this year’s survey—and the Symposium

Without sharing any particulars, Mackay says, “This year’s survey reveals different attitudes according to different shipping modes. Having IATA on board, we’ve had more responses about air shipping. We’ve also heard more from DG pros in China and other parts of Asia.

“The Symposium is a place where things get done, and the survey is a part of that. I remember being at the second Dangerous Goods Symposium and being amazed at how everyone pulled together to discuss issues and find solutions.

“You’re not just sitting and listening to presentations—you’re making a difference. You’re saying to regulators, ‘This is what we can do, here’s what we want you to do. Now go do it.’”

The 13th annual Dangerous Goods Symposium—September 5–7, 2018

Labelmaster will host the 13th annual Dangerous Goods Symposium September 5–7, 2018, at The Loews Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois.

Join us as industry experts and regulators discuss topics and lead workshops that cover everything from training best practices to international and domestic regulatory updates and the latest lithium battery regulations. You’ll never find more DG knowledge or experience in the same place, anywhere.

Sign up now!


Labelmaster is a full-service provider of goods and services for hazardous materials and Dangerous Goods professionals, shippers, transport operators and EH&S providers. See our full line of solutions at labelmaster.com.

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