Dangerous Goods 2021: Regulatory highlights and their implications for 2022

If 2020 was the year of the pandemic, the global supply chain may remember 2021 as the year of the capacity crunch. With the pandemic still impacting workforces and travel, a perfect storm of other factors combined with surging demand to disrupt supply chains as never before.

The Dangerous Goods regulatory world, while naturally affected by everything happening in the global supply chain, had a relatively placid year.

Here’s a look back at some of the biggest regulatory changes of 2021, with their projected impacts for the hazmat supply chain in 2022 and beyond.

IATA publishes new addendum to its DGR

As is typical for January, IATA and other regulatory bodies publish relatively minor updates to their latest regulations as they come into effect. This year, IATA’s addendum included numerous changes to carrier variations and certain pandemic related allowances for vaccine transport.

2022 implications: Slight, compared to the set of new IATA regulations that would be announced in fall, 2021.

OSHA proposes updated harmonization

In February, OSHA published a significant proposed revision to the Hazard Communication Standard, which would harmonize U.S. workplace hazard communications with the UN’s 7th revision of the international GHS standard.

2022 implications: If finalized, workplaces would have to adapt to revised criteria for classification of certain hazards and revised provisions for labels, among other changes, with a two-year phase-in period.

Department of Energy releases lithium battery blueprint

In June, the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries, led by the Departments of Energy, Defense, Commerce and State, released its National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries 2021- 2030, which outlines a strategy to guide federal investments in the development of domestic lithium battery manufacturing and recycling supply chains.

2022 implications: Already in 2021 we’re seeing significant investment into the growth of the lithium battery recycling industry that also supports the consortium’s Blueprint. It’s refreshing to see the federal government and industry working together on a commodity that’s become critical to so many aspects of our modern lives—that just happens to be classified as Dangerous Goods.

PHMSA proposes greater harmonization

In August, PHMSA proposed HM-215P—a new proposal to improve the alignment of domestic Dangerous Goods regulations with those already adopted internationally. If enacted, HM-215P would harmonize dozens of rules with those in the newest editions of the ICAO Technical Instructions, the IMDG Code, the UN Model Regulations and other publications.

2022 implications: It’s hard to predict with any certainty, but HM-215P is likely to be enacted in 2022, so it behooves any organization in the Dangerous Goods supply chain to be familiar with its provisions.

IATA removes Section II provision for some lithium battery shipments

Later in August, IATA released its preview of significant changes for the 63rd edition of its Dangerous Goods Regulations, taking effect January 1. The big news was the removal of the Section II provision from Packing Instructions 965 and 968 covering smaller shipments of standalone lithium batteries. Of course, there are dozens of other changes that you should be aware of if your organization ships hazmat by air. If you haven’t already, please order your 2022 IATA DGR today!

2022 implications: As we discussed in more detail recently, after the transition period expires on March 31, 2022, all packages containing any number of standalone small lithium batteries will be Fully Regulated shipments under Section IB. They will require additional marks and labels, stronger packaging and training in Fully Regulated lithium battery transport for all employees involved in handling these packages.

Biden issues vaccine mandate

In September, President Biden directed OSHA to develop a mandate for employers that have one hundred or more employees that would require employers to verify that either employees are vaccinated against COVID-19, or else that unvaccinated employees present a negative COVID-19 test weekly.

2022 implications: Unclear. The “vaccine mandate”—which also applies to federal employees—has been challenged in multiple courts, and it may be some time before it applies uniformly.

PHMSA releases Lithium Battery Handling Guide

In October, PHMSA released a Lithium Battery Handling Guide that offered the agency’s take on how to comply with the many regulations surrounding this seemingly ubiquitous commodity, organizing them into scenario-based shipping guides based on battery type, size, and chemistry.

2022 implications: Any organization that manufactures, ships, carries or sells lithium batteries—or the devices they power—knows how important it is to stay current on the regulations governing their transport. This guide should be an essential resource for those organizations moving forward. If you haven’t already, download it here.

USPS effectively bans e-cigarette mailings

Later in October, the U.S. Postal Service published a new final rule setting strict limits on the mailing of electronic nicotine delivery systems that effectively disallowed commercial mailing.

2022 implications: As lithium battery devices, e-cigarettes are Dangerous Goods, and this ruling may force manufacturers to explore other transport options with which they may not be as familiar.

PHMSA proposes suspending LNG transport in rail tank cars

In November, PHMSA proposed amending the Hazardous Materials Regulations to suspend authorization of liquefied natural gas (LNG) transport in rail tank cars under the final rule published in July 2020.

2022 implications: If the proposal is enacted, the rule from July 2020 would be reversed, removing the ability of shippers to transport LNG in rail tank cars.

Want more insight on about any of these developments? Have questions about applying any Dangerous Goods regulation to your shipments? Call the Labelmaster hazmat hotline—1.800.621.5808, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central, Monday through Friday—and speak with one of our experts!

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