DG Digest: FMCSA’s Clearinghouse Database, FRA Issues Safety Advisory, and PHMSA Seeks Feedback on HMR Harmonization

The FRA issued a new Safety Advisory related to operating practices around stations and terminals following rail passenger incidents on the East Coast last year. Here a Chicago Metra commuter train makes heavy going through a snowstorm in Deerfield, Illinois in November of 2015. Image © 11/2015 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

The FRA issued a new Safety Advisory related to operating practices around stations and terminals following rail passenger incidents on the East Coast last year. Here a Chicago Metra commuter train makes heavy going through a snowstorm in Deerfield, Illinois in November of 2015. Image © 11/2015 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

Welcome to December!  The last month of the year finds us launching into busy holiday preparations and also finds an extra busy past week when it comes to regulatory activity.  Let’s see what happened out there:


  • The agency announced its plan to submit the Information Collection Request (ICR) described below to  extend an existing ICR titled, ‘‘Transportation of Hazardous Materials, Highway Routing.’’ The information reported by States and Indian tribes is necessary to identify designated/restricted routes and restrictions or limitations affecting how motor carriers may transport certain hazardous materials on their highways, including dates that such routes were established and information on subsequent changes or new hazardous materials routing designations. Please send your comments by December 29, 2016.  Here’s your route for feedback
  • FMCSA also published a notice extending until August 20, 2020 the hours-of-service (HOS) 30-minute rest break exemption previously granted to motor carriers transporting security-sensitive hazardous materials (HM) and subject to Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration security plan requirements.  See the notice 
  • FMCSA continues to try to make life a little easier for our nation’s veterans.  In a new action, the agency proposed amendments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to establish an alternate process for qualified physicians employed in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) (qualified VA physicians) to be listed on the Agency’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (National Registry). After training and testing, they become certified VA medical examiners that can perform medical examinations of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators who are military veterans.  See the proposal here
  • In driver enforcement news, FMCSA has amended the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to establish requirements for the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse), a database under the Agency’s administration that will contain information about violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program for the holders of commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). It will improve roadway safety by identifying commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers who have committed drug and alcohol violations that render them ineligible to operate a CMV. Effective Date: January 4, 2017. Compliance Date: January 6, 2020. Here’s your story


In regulatory fallout related to recent incidents involving passenger trains in New Jersey and the Philedelphia area, the FRA is issuing Safety Advisory 2016–03 to stress to passenger and commuter railroads the importance of taking action to help mitigate human factor accidents, assist in the investigation of such accidents, and enhance the safety of operations in stations and terminals with stub end tracks. This safety advisory contains various recommendations to passenger and commuter railroads related to practices intended to help mitigate the occurrence and assist in the investigation of human factor related accidents and to enhance the safety of operations in terminals and stations, especially those with stub end (i.e. “dead end” vice run-through) tracks.  Here’s the notice


OSHA’s National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety & Health (NACOSH) will meet from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, December 14, 2016. The NACOSH OSH Professionals Pipeline Work Group will meet from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, December 13, 2016. Both meetings are in Washington, DC.  You must submit (postmark, send, transmit) comments, requests to address NACOSH, speaker presentations, and requests for special accommodations for the NACOSH and NACOSH Work Group meetings by December 7, 2016.  Interested?  Here’s the way in


In consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration PHMSA proposes to amend the Hazardous Materials Regulations to align with current international standards for the air transportation of hazardous materials. The proposals in this rule would:

  • amend certain special provisions
  • packaging requirements
  • notification of pilot-in-command (NOTOC) requirements
  • Exceptions for passengers and crew members.

In addition to harmonization with international standards, several of the proposals in this rule are responsive to petitions for rulemaking submitted by the regulated community. PHMSA invites feedback regarding these proposed revisions by February 3rd, 2017.  Here’s your route to comment

Canada TDGR

An amendment entitled Regulations Amending the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (International Harmonization Update, 2016) was published in Part I of the Canada Gazette on November 26, 2016, for a 60-day public comment period.  The proposed amendment has the following objectives:

  • Harmonize with international regulatory requirements by updating the TDG Regulations to incorporate changes introduced in the 19th edition of the UN Recommendations, the IMDG Code 2014 and the 2015-2016 ICAO.
  • Introduce dynamic references (also known as “ambulatory references”) for the international codes mentioned above and some technical standards that are incorporated in the TDG Regulations.
  • Reduce regulatory barriers on cross-border trade with the US by proposing reciprocity of regulatory requirements for pressure receptacles and special permits and equivalency certificates.

The amendment is accessible here.


  • EPA announced the first ten chemicals it will evaluate for potential risks to human health and the environment.  The first ten chemicals to be evaluated are:
    • 1,4-Dioxane
    • 1-Bromopropane
    • Asbestos
    • Carbon Tetrachloride
    • Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster
    • Methylene Chloride
    • N-methylpyrrolidone
    • Pigment Violet 29
    • Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene
    • Trichloroethylene

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act required EPA to publish this list by December 19, 2016. These chemicals were drawn from EPA’s 2014 TSCA Work Plan; a list of 90 chemicals selected based on their potential for high hazard and exposure as well as other considerations.  For further information, see EPA’s page on the issue

  • Those studying the health impacts of air pollution have a new way to estimate exposure to air pollutants. EPA’s new model called Microenvironment Tracker (MicroTrac) uses GPS data from devices like smart phones to estimate people’s air pollution exposure in microenvironments such as work and home. The model enables users to include time of day and location data to estimate exposures.  Learn more about the new system here


Dr. Bob Richard, Executive Director of the Medical Device Battery Transport Council, announced this week that the MDBTC has been granted observer status to the UN Sub-Committee on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.  Dr. Richard said, “This is a great achievement for our organization which will allow us to participate in the work of the Sub-Committee for many years to come.  We will have the active support and participation from all member companies to ensure we provide helpful and technically competent input to the Sub-Committee.”  The MDBTC is an association of companies and regulatory experts who are working together to help solve the complex issues surrounding the use and transport of medical devices and the batteries that power them.  Such batteries provide power to often critical health care devices, but can get caught up in the complex web of restrictions surrounding the transport of lithium batteries, especially via air transport.  For more information on the council and how your company may benefit from membership, contact Dr. Richard at brichard@labelmaster.com


The ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) has proposed new competency based training provisions. It is anticipated these new provisions will be incorporated into the 2019-2020 Edition of the ICAO Technical Instructions.  These are now available for review and comment

Labelmaster is a full service provider of products and services for the Hazardous Materials and Dangerous Goods professional, shippers, transport operators, and EH&S providers. See our full line of solutions at www.labelmaster.com.

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