DG Digest: FRA publishes emergency relief docket and DOT reviewing need for some external guidance documents

The FRA issued an Emergency Relief Docket establishing procedures for industry regulatory relief in the case of natural disaster or other unique situations demanding quick action to mitigate.  A BNSF and Amtrak train meet each other south of Seattle, Washington in January, 2019.  Photo ©1/2019 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

The last two weeks found federal agencies slowly returning to their normal schedules following the recent shutdown.  The result?  A much busier DG Digest!  Meanwhile, much of the country is experiencing the grip of the depth of winter.  Is your workplace safe for employees?  Remember to keep your walkways clear and dry, watch inside flooring for standing water from snow tracked inside, and ensure emergency exits are clear and functional.  Make sure employees working outdoors are properly equipped to cope with the weather.  Don’t let winter catch your workplace off guard.  Here’s all the latest:


The agency published a set of Special Permit (SP) actions.  The actions include requests for new or modifications to existing Special Permits.  The actions mainly pertain to the “usual suspects;” cylinders and lithium batteries.  However a salting of other less usual requests spice up the mix, including some requests pertaining to spacecraft and railroad tank cars.  See the published actions here:





The agency published a final rule establishing an emergency relief docket.  This provides steps that will be used in the event of public crises that require the agency to quickly respond with regulatory relief that will allow the industry to recover more rapidly from the situation.  The move is intended to speed ameliorating action when things like extreme weather events, major industrial accidents, or other such disruptions to normal industry operations occur.  See the rule here


The agency published a renewal of the ICR connected to its OSHA Strategic Partnership Program. The OSPP allows OSHA to enter into an extended, voluntary, cooperative relationship with groups of employers, employees, and representatives (sometimes including other stakeholders, and sometimes involving only one employer) to encourage, assist, and recognize their efforts to eliminate serious hazards and to achieve a high level of worker safety and health that goes beyond what historically has been achieved from traditional enforcement methods.  See the ICR here


The U.S. Department of Transportation (Department or DOT) is reviewing its existing guidance documents to evaluate their continued necessity and determine whether they need to be updated or revised. As part of this review, the Department invites the public to identify and provide input on existing guidance documents that are good candidates for repeal, replacement, or modification.  Comments close on April 8th, 2019.  Here’s your portal to contribute


  • The agency has issued updated rates for its civil penalty structure.  The rates reflect estimated impacts for inflation.  See the rates right here
  • The agency published a renewed ICR relating to use of the standard RECRA hazardous waste manifest form by generators, transporters, and disposal units.  The ICR helps the EPA track industry activity related to transport safety and emergency response for hazardous waste.  See it here


The agency issued a renewal of its ICR pertaining to the Motor Carrier Identification Report (MCIR).  The MCIR is used by the agency to track regulated carriers and verify that any required reporting from such entities is carried out.  See the renewal here

U.S. Coast Guard

  • The service renewed the charter for the National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee on November 9, 2018. The charter will expire on November 9, 2020. The National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee provides advice and recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security on matters relating to activities directly involved with or in support of the exploration of offshore mineral and energy resources insofar as they relate to matters within Coast Guard jurisdiction.  See the renewal right here
  • The agency also withdrew two proposals related to spill response to hazardous substances at marine terminals and for tank vessels.  Both proposals date to the early 2000’s and the USCG notes that they are no longer appropriate to the current state of the industry.  See the withdrawals here and here


The agency published an ICR related to its Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT).  The CSAT Program identifies and helps regulate the security of high-risk chemical facilities using a risk-based approach.  See the ICR here

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