DG Digest: PHMSA extends relief for rules on some hand sanitizer, FRA will require 40 states to develop plans that mitigate crossing risks

The FRA published multiple actions dealing with accident reporting, grade crossing safety, and part of its railroad company safety standards this week.  A BNSF train hauling mixed freight heads north under stormy skies at Dieringer, Washington on Sunday, December 6th, 2020.  Photo by Nikki Burgess © 12/2020; all rights reserved.

Mid-Month December saw PHMSA act to bring back part of the hand sanitizer exemptions that had expired on Halloween; details are below, but it’s important to note that the “new” (reinstated) exemption applies only to subject sanitizers manufactured PRIOR to the original expiration date.  Many shippers have moved on from there and are simply shipping the material under the normally applicable regulatory scheme that fits their particular circumstance.  Does it make sense for your company to go back to an exempted state for any sanitizer produced before the deadline?  Be sure you consider any potential for introducing unnecessary complications into your transport process before you make your choice.  There was also other regulatory news and of course the nation continues to battle the pandemic.  Let’s all keep doing our part to help where we can.  Here’s the latest news: 


The agency is acting to extend the hand sanitizer shipping exception only for hand sanitizers manufactured prior to October 31st, 2020 and that meet the requirements of the previously published exemption guidance.  The agency states:

“While manufacturers of hand sanitizers are now required to comply with all applicable hazardous materials regulations, some hand sanitizers manufactured and packaged under the previous Notice of Enforcement Discretion have not yet been delivered to end users.  To facilitate a continued response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, PHMSA is reinstating and extending the Notice of Enforcement Discretion to offerors and carriers who offer or transport hand sanitizers manufactured and packaged prior to October 31, 2020, and in accordance with the previous Notices of Enforcement Discretion. This action is intended to maximize the effectiveness of the distribution of critical healthcare resources nationwide to respond to the public health emergency.  PHMSA gives notice that it will not take enforcement action against any offeror or carrier who offers or transports hand sanitizers manufactured and packaged prior to October 31, 2020, and in accordance with the April 10, 2020 Notice of Enforcement Discretion and June 24, 2020 Extension of that Notice.”

See the notice here.

The new notice’s expiration date is March 31st, 2021.

The agency also published another raft of Special Permit actions.  PHMSA has been extremely busy in the SP realm in 2020.  See the new actions here:





The agency proposes to eliminate the requirement that drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce prepare and submit a list of their convictions for traffic violations to their employers annually. It contends that this requirement is largely duplicative of a separate provision that requires each motor carrier to make an annual inquiry to obtain the motor vehicle record (MVR) for each driver it employs from every State in which the driver holds or has held a CMV operator’s license or permit in the past year. See the proposal here.


The agency published its long awaited rule on grade crossing safety action plans. The new rule requires over forty states to develop specific plans to mitigate to the maximum extent possible road/rail intersection safety risk factors. See the new rule here.

The agency published a final rule changing the way that financial thresholds are to be calculated for purposes of accident/incident reporting.  The new model is intended to more accurately reflect actual annual costs for the subject railroad.  FRA gathers accident/incident data as part of its effort to improve safety on the railroads under its jurisdiction. See the rule here.

The agency is also proposing to change part of the rule regarding its required safety programs.  Among other things, it would relax environmental standards that govern the operation of automated machinery used to help maintain the railroads’ rights-of-way.  See the proposed rule here.


The agency issued an ICR dealing with its Ionizing Radiation Standard.  As wireless devices proliferate, ionizing radiation safety becomes more and more important. See the ICR here.

Canada TDGR

Transport Canada announced the publication of three new standards (CSA technical standards) dealing with the selection and use of portable tanks for the transport of dangerous goods over highway.  Find more information about how to access the new standards 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.

Related posts