DG Digest: HHS updates requirements for new class of respirators, PHMSA provides guidance for handling shipping papers

While pandemic news continues its prominence, the rest of the regulatory world continues to turn also.  The FRA published a pair of actions impacting carriers.  Here a BNSF train cruises through a beautiful sunset at Sumner, Washington early last week.  Photo © 4/2020 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

The week just concluded finds the COVID-19 outbreak continuing to dominate regulatory activity, though there is a strong leavening of other news.  Meanwhile, all of us continue to work towards moving the nation into a recovery phase, whenever that may become safe.  For now, stay the course!  Continue social distancing, wash those hands, protect your health, and just as importantly, keep your spirits up.  We will meet this challenge!  Here’s all the latest:

COVID-19 Specific News


The agency issued clarifying guidance in respect to the handling of shipping papers during the COVID-19 outbreak.  The guidance addresses the typical certification signature requirements as they might be carried out under the current situation.  It takes into account the need for social distancing.  It makes allowance for actions such as using “remote” signatures through direct verbal or potentially electronic assent.  Interestingly, the guidance document also makes specific mention of electronic transmission of the shipping paper; that is a significant modification from normal practice.  You can find the guidance here.

For further information and specifics about the guidance, see the Labelmaster blog piece devoted specifically to the topic here:


The Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) published an interim final rule to update the regulatory requirements used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to test and approve air-purifying particulate respirators for use in the ongoing public health emergency. Parallel performance standards are added to existing regulatory requirements to allow for the approval of respirators in a new class (PAPR100) that may be better suited to the needs of workers in the healthcare and public safety sectors currently experiencing a shortage of air-purifying particulate respirators due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19).  See the details of the new standard here.


The Postal Service published an update to its handling guidance for mailing small amounts of alcohol based hand sanitizer.  The update offers what amount to minor modifications and technical corrections to the previously published guidance.  See the revision right here.

Transport Canada

PHMSA’s Canadian analog issued a revised temporary certificate (TU 0751) that allows for delayed recertification of cylinders and other pressure vessels.  The revision clarifies current expiration date extensions.  See the action here.


The agency has extended by 180 days the expiration date of the TWIC identification credential.  The Transportation Worker Identity Card (TWIC) is a required credential for entry and work in many marine terminals and other settings in which cargo handling and dangerous goods transport activity are carried out.  The action is in response to the current difficulty holders of the credential would have in carrying out normal in-person renewals.  See the details and extension dates here.


The association published its weekly update to the information clearinghouse it is maintaining detailing the actions of states and carriers related to the outbreak.  We’ll continue to publish a link to this page each week, as the page is updated frequently.  See it here.


The organization published a joint statement from its governing body that calls on member states to continue to make ports and related infrastructure open and safe during the virus outbreak.  The statement is in response to port closures in some areas due to virus fears.  Entry ports remain critical to the unobstructed flow of critical supplies that help address the crisis.  See the joint statement here.

Other News


The agency published an ICR related to test and recordkeeping requirements for the certification of IBC’s and portable tanks.  Along with tank vehicles and railcars, these two classes of packagings serve as a substantial portion of the bulk packages in service in the United States.  See the ICR here.


The agency published an ICR in relation to the ongoing effort to improve carrier emergency response plans.  The action here relates to specific components of carrier preparedness steps.  See the ICR here.

The agency also published a new grant funding opportunity under its Consolidated Rail and Infrastructure Safety Improvements Program (CRISI).  The program is designed help carriers expedite transport activities while improving the safe operation of their infrastructure.  See the opportunity here.


The nation’s top safety agency published an ICR related to the preservation by employers of records related to incidents that subjected employees to potential exposure to physical toxins or other harmful agents. See it here.

The agency also published a revised ICR related to its required reporting by employers who deal with asbestos in general industry.  Asbestos is a respiratory toxin and exposure must be tightly controlled. See the ICR here.


In an interesting development on the hazardous waste front, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is proposing an ICR that would track health impacts of potential hazardous waste releases in communities.  While not a new concept, this database would offer the agency and thus HHS a much more informed platform to interact with the EPA in reference to the effectiveness of current hazardous waste regulations. See the proposal here.


The agency is extending the comment period for its proposed rule that would significantly reduce the financial responsibility requirements for chemical manufacturers that experience releases or incidents.  The extension follows public pushback against the proposal from environmental and community organizations. See the comment extension here.

Labelmaster is a full-service provider of products, shipping and training software, and professional consulting services to assist the DG and HS&E professional to comply with national and international regulations.  See our full line of solutions at www.labelmaster.com.

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