Could Santa pass a PHMSA inspection? A Dangerous Goods Christmas story.

TIME: December 24, 2021, 21:33 AKST

PLACE: PHMSA Inspection Station, Utqiagvik, Alaska

The following conversation was recorded between a junior PHMSA inspector (INSP) and an unidentified aircraft operator (OPER).

INSP:     Good evening!

OPER:    Good evening!

INSP:     I don’t see any identification on the exterior of your, um, aircraft here. What’s your port of origin?

OPER:    North Pole, U.S. Arctic Region.

INSP:     Um, okay. Documentation?

OPER:    Right here.

INSP:     Thanks—whoa, that’s one thick bill of lading.

OPER:    Ho ho, that’s just the nice list!

INSP:     Yeah, it’s a nice list all right. You know, you can do these lists digitally, now.

OPER:    Well, I’m quite old school. Say, I know you have a job to do here, but I have a lot of stops to make and I’m on a very tight schedule.

INSP:     Sure, sure, but your list doesn’t specify whether you’re carrying Dangerous Goods or not.

OPER:    Dangerous? Look, I’ve mostly got just sweaters, fluffy slippers and a bunch of toys.

INSP:     Toys, huh? Anything battery powered?

OPER:    Well, sure, you know kids these days. Game consoles, VR headsets, cell phones …

INSP:     Yeah, I’m going to have to inspect your cargo hold.

OPER:    Inspect? For what?

INSP:     For Dangerous Goods, to make sure they’re packaged and labeled correctly.

OPER:    Labeled correctly? Of course they are. I can’t very well have little Jimmy opening little Bobby’s package now, can I?

INSP:     No, sir, I mean labeled with the proper hazmat class labels and marks.

OPER:    Are you suggesting that it’s somehow improper for these gifts to wrapped in festive green and red paper? My teams spend hours getting those silvery ribbons just right, you know.

INSP:     No sir, not improper, but possibly non-compliant. Can you verify that you’ve used safe, compliant battery packaging?

OPER:    Packaging? Look here, my good man, my team has been packaging these things for decades. I dare say they know what they’re doing.

INSP:     So they’re all current on their lithium battery shipping training?

OPER:    Current on their training? This is all they do! My foreman is a 43rd generation gift wrapper. He’s forgotten more about packaging since yesterday than you’ll know in your lifetime.

INSP:     Be that as it may, sir, they’re still required to have recurrent training. And since you’re transporting Dangerous Goods by air, they need IATA training every two years at minimum.

OPER:    IATA training?

INSP:     Yes sir, IATA.

OPER:    IATA put you on my naughty list, is what IATA do.

INSP:     Sir, I’m just trying to enforce the rules here to make sure your shipments are safe.

OPER:    So, it’s a question of safety, is it?

INSP:     Yes, sir.

OPER:    And if I go back and do all this packaging and labeling you mention, my shipments will be safe.

INSP:     That’s our operating principle, sir.

OPER:    If only there were some robust, flexible, and advanced software that instantly validated all my shipment data against these regulations of yours.

INSP:     That would be … whoa, what’s this?

OPER:    These are the Dangerous Goods declarations you requested.

INSP:     But—

OPER:    How did I do it so quickly?

INSP:     Yeah.

OPER:    Dude, I’m hauling millions of gifts in a sleigh the size of a minivan pulled by nine flying reindeer, and you want to know how I got a few forms filled out?

INSP:     Um, magic?

OPER:    Yes. But the software’s really good, too.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from everyone at Labelmaster!

Please share your opinions about online Dangerous Goods training!

What kinds of training courses do you and your team take? And what do you really think about them? Please take a couple of minutes to answer our fun, quick survey!


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


Related posts