DG Digest: PHMSA defines scope and mission of new Accident Investigation Team

The FRA announced a further delay to new safety training program guidelines for railroad carrier operating personnel. BNSF train H-VBT skims along the Seattle to Tacoma mainline beneath looming Mount Rainier in on a sunny spring evening in Puyallup, Washington on April 25th, 2018. Image ©4/2018 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

The year progresses; here it is May tomorrow already!  April closes out with significantly increased regulatory activity; the biggest news being PHMSA’s announcement of a new Research and Development Forum and a big plug for its new Hazmat Investigative team.  See all the details below:


The agency reiterated the mission of its new hazmat accident investigation team, announced last October and finally gathering steam.  The team is tasked with the following:

  • Improving accuracy & relevance of PHMSA data collection e‑orts through root cause analysis
  • Identifying emerging risks & recommending agency action (outreach & engagement, rulemaking, etc)
  • Enhancing risk-analysis through data-driven, innovative tracking of emerging trends and near misses
  • Sharing accident data recommendations & lessons learned with internal & external stakeholders, including DOT modal partners

See the information brochure here

The agency will hold a “Research and Development Forum” in Washington DC on May 15th and 16th.  The forum will explore the latest trends and developments in the hazmat transport industry and seek stakeholder input on the agency’s goals and direction.  The public is invited. See your “invitation” right here


The ADR added signatories to multilateral agreements M304 and M312.  M304 concerns cargo trailer units in multiple on the road; M312 deal with articles containing dangerous goods.  See the list of signatories and details of the derogations right here


  • The agency has made more substantive information available regarding and has extended the comment dates for the newly proposed user fee schedule for entities subject to the Toxic Substances Control Act or TSCA. A new user fee structure is under consideration to help pay for administration of this complex program. Are you affected? Want to have your say? Comments are due by May 24thFind out more right here
  • The agency has published its extremely controversial new rule proposal “Strengthening transparency in regulatory science.”  This proposal, a signature piece of the Trump Administration’s effort to implement what it sees as beneficial change at the EPA, seeks to make data used to guide regulatory decisions more available for public view.  Opponents of the rule contend that the data is already peer reviewed and making it public to uninformed audiences will only confuse important issues through the data’s use in being “cherry-picked” without context in political debates; supporters contend that the public has a right to see the data used to make decisions that impact their lives and especially their budgets.   You can decide for yourself right here


  • The agency announced a new ICR in reference to CMV marking requirements under 49 CFR Part 390.  AN effort is being made to document how much time and effort carriers expend on the requirements. See the details here
  • A second ICR is a renewal, dealing with the medical qualification requirements for CDL drivers.  See the renewal here


The Federal Railroad Administration has granted a further one year delay to the new safety program implementation requirements for operating employees (typically train crew, dispatchers, and signal and maintenance of way employees).  The delay extends the compliance deadline to 202 for large railroads and 2021 for smaller roads. See the delay here


The department is submitting its annual ICR “Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses” for renewal.  This ICR collects data on such incidents in American workplaces to allow the agency to use it for future action. See this renewal right here


The agency published a notice stating that companies wishing to engage in “transportation activities using unmanned (UAV) aircraft must first obtain a type certificate form the FAA before beginning such operations.  Numerous companies have indicated interest in using drones to deliver goods, from pizzas to hazmat.  DOT appears to be trying to get ahead of this new industry.  See the notification here

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