DG Digest: PHMSA Seeks Leading-edge, Innovative Ideas to Advance the Safe Transport of DG

The FRA released an ICR that will affect reporting for train crew hours of service recordkeeping.  Amtrak train A795, a unique test set headed for the Point Defiance Line south of Tacoma, Washington, rolls through the summer sunset on July 6th, 2021.  Photo © 7/2021 by Nikki Burgess; all rights reserved.

Amazingly, it’s already almost mid-July!  Crazy, how quickly the summer goes.  Hopefully everyone is having a chance to enjoy a little down time; be sure that if and when you do, you remain attentive to safety, especially for big chores around the house and most especially, driving.  Summer trips often mean unfamiliar territory, extra road work, anxious children in the car, and a myriad of other issues that can reduce our attentiveness to safety.  Stay alert and come home safe!  It’s been a busy two week period since the last digest, so let’s dig into the news:


The agency published an ICR asking for information in a revision to its hours-of-service reporting requirements.  Like all other transport modes, rail equipment operators have service hour limits designed to enhance safety by ensuring proper rest. See the ICR here.


The agency has extended its compliance date for its recent final rule affecting entry level CDL driver training.  The extension pushes the compliance date back to February or 2022 from its initial date of 2020.  FMCSA has revised driver training requirements in an effort to enhance safe operations. See the extension here.

The agency will hold a public meeting of its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee on July 19th and 20th.  The committee assist the agency in developing safety plans and regulatory initiatives.  The meeting is virtual account the ongoing pandemic. See how to participate here.

In a new proposal, the agency offers amendments to its Hazardous Materials Safety Permits regulations to incorporate by reference the updated Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) handbook containing inspection procedures and Out-of-Service Criteria (OOSC) for inspections of shipments of transuranic waste and highway route controlled quantities of radioactive material. The OOSC provide enforcement personnel nationwide, including FMCSA’s State partners, with uniform enforcement tolerances for inspections. Currently, the regulations reference the April 1, 2019, edition of the handbook. Through this document, FMCSA proposes to incorporate by reference the April 1, 2021 edition. See the NPRM here.

In a relatively major move, the agency amended its regulations by making technical corrections throughout the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). The Agency makes minor changes to correct inadvertent errors and omissions, remove or update obsolete references, and improve the clarity and consistency of certain regulatory provisions. The Agency also makes nondiscretionary, ministerial changes that are statutorily mandated and changes that merely align regulatory requirements with the underlying statutory authority. Finally, this rule contains two minor changes to FMCSA’s rules of agency procedure or practice that relate to separation of functions and allowing FMCSA and State personnel to conduct off-site compliance reviews of motor carriers following the same safety fitness determination criteria used in on-site compliance reviews. This final rule is effective July 7, 2021, except for amendatory instruction 31 which is effective September 7, 2021.  See the rule here.

In a ICR, the agency asks for feedback on its public services delivery.  Federal agencies conduct such feedback collections on a periodic basis in an effort to improve delivery of services to the stakeholder communities they serve.  See this latest example here.


The agency an NPRM in February 2021 to modify the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) Revision 7, to address specific issues that have arisen since OSHA last updated the HCS in 2012, and to provide better alignment with other U.S. agencies and international trading partners, without lowering the overall protections of the standard. The public comment period for this NPRM closed May 19, 2021, 92 days after publication of the NPRM. On May 20, 2021, OSHA issued a notice of informal hearing on the proposed rule. The deadline to submit a NOITA was June 18, 2021. However, OSHA has received a request to extend the period due, in part, to pandemic- related activities. OSHA agrees to an extension and believes a 14-day extension is sufficient and appropriate. Therefore, the deadline for submitting a NOITA is extended to July 22, 2021.  The hearing itself will be in September. See the details here.


The agency has published its latest round of special permit actions.  They represent the typical issues; portable tanks, cylinders, batteries, and requests for quantity or modal relaxations.  See the actions at the links here:




The agency has posted a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) to solicit concepts and innovative ideas for leading-edge research and techniques to advance the safe transportation of hazardous materials. PHMSA is soliciting a variety of basic and applied research projects that will improve the safety of hazardous materials in the following five areas:

  1. Hazard Comparison of Aerosols
  2. De Minimis Quantities of Explosives
  3. Development of New Standards for Bulk and Non-Bulk Packaging
  4. Understanding the Hazards Posed by Dissolved Gases in Liquids
  5. Deregulation of Certain Types and Quantities of Hazardous Materials

Any responsible source may submit a White Paper for consideration, including but not limited to universities or institutions of higher education, hospitals, non-profit organizations, private individuals, corporations, and businesses or commercial organizations.  Only White Papers are due at this time. All offerors must be registered in the Federal Government’s System for Award Management (SAM) prior to submitting a White Paper. Offerors may only submit one White Paper under each research topic.  White papers will not be accepted after 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time) on August 24, 2021. Full Proposals will only be accepted if requested by the PHMSA Contracting Officer, from offerors with White Papers determined to be technically acceptable according to the criteria published in the BAA. The Government intends to make multiple awards from this BAA. It is anticipated that awards will be issued within 12 months.  For more information on this solicitation, including submission requirements and evaluation criteria, follow this link


The organization published a new chart showing the effective mandatory dates for various iterations of the IMDG Code.  As with most such regulatory texts, the Code’s effective dates stretch across multiple calendar years. See the new chart here.

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