DG Digest: IATA issues guidance for vaccines and other pharmaceuticals

The FRA published a series of actions this week that will impact everything from employee qualifications to how railroads administer their PTC programs. A BNSF train rolls south in Auburn, Washington in April of 2020.  Image © 4/2020 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

The week finds the nation now in the middle of the very heart of the holiday season, but the usual “regulatory slowdown” we often see at this time of year is definitely not in effect. Several actions of note appear this week.  Meanwhile, the pandemic continues to rage, although vaccine shipments are now underway and give us all hope that by the middle of the coming new year things may at long last improve towards normal. Let’s all keep doing everything we can to help limit the spread of the virus and to have a healthy 2021. From Labelmaster’s extended family to yours, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season!  Here’s the week’s news:


In an action late in the week, the agency released its new HM-260A direct final rule. The rule offers editorial corrections and clarifications across a broad swath of the HMR. PHMSA notes that it published the rule direct to final status because it states that it has no substantive regulatory impact, however there are numerous actions in the rule that impact things like the exact presentation of various proper shipping names, the language of special provisions, new updates to referenced sources, the removal of obsolete permissive language, and many other seemingly minor shifts in the regulations that when added up could impact your operations.  Be sure to review this new final rule.  This rule is effective on January 21st, 2021.  Here’s the final rule.

DOT News

The incoming Biden Administration has indicated its choice for Transportation Secretary will be Pete Buttigieg.  Buttigieg, a military veteran and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is expected to focus on infrastructure issues and would replace current Secretary Elaine Chao.  His appointment will require confirmation in the US Senate.  Here’s the CNN story about his potential appointment.


The agency published a final rule revising its qualification standards for locomotive engineers. The action conforms the standards to those already in place for conductors. See the rule here.

The agency also published its new required drug and alcohol testing rate for subject railroad employees. The rate for 2021 remains unchanged from that for 2020. See the action here.

In a third action, the agency issued a proposed rule revising the administration of its Positive Train Control regulation reporting requirements. The revisions would increase reporting frequencies for railroads across a swath of the program’s mandates. See the proposal here.


The agency published its risk evaluation under the TSCA for Perchloroethylene.  The agency found that this widely used chemical (common in industrial cleaners and dry cleaning operations) does present an “unreasonable risk” of potentially harmful effects if misused and as such the EPA will develop new standards for handling and use of the chemical.  See the action here.


The Postal Service issued an industry alert reminding users of their system that effective 1/21/2021, the ORM-D mark must no longer be used in mail services. This conforms to the mark’s analogous prohibition for use under the HMR. Users of the ORM-D mark will need to shift to the Limited Quantity marking as of 1 January. See the alert here.


The association had made available its new guidance document for the transport of vaccines and other pharmaceuticals—certainly a timely and welcome addition to the transport matrix. Here’s the guidance.

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