Lots of people in the Dangerous Goods supply chain view hazmat compliance is a black-and-white issue. You’re either compliant, or you’re not.
But during Day 1 of the 2019 Dangerous Goods Symposium, nearly 300 hazmat pros from all over the globe were shown new research demonstrating that a basic level of compliance is only the beginning of what a dedicated organization can achieve.
And that was only the first session of the day. The rest of the agenda was packed with passion, insight and several tantalizing glimpses of the future of Dangerous Goods transport.
The 4th annual Dangerous Goods Confidence Outlook
Sharing the results of the annual Dangerous Goods Confidence Outlook has become a Symposium tradition. Labelmaster Vice President of Marketing & Product Management Rob Finn said, “This is a story about you, Dangerous Goods pros from across the entire world. You guys helped write each chapter, and we incorporated your suggested ideas and questions.”
This year’s survey revealed some hard truths about our industry along with new insights about how and why companies pursue compliance. You can download the full results of the survey here, but one section was a true revelation.
This research reveals that companies function at three distinct levels of compliance, based on their attitudes and motivations:
- Basically Compliant: companies where DG management is viewed simply as a regulatory mandate.
- Safely Compliant: companies that have a strong commitment to overall safety and feel that their compliance efforts go beyond regulatory requirements.
- Competitively Compliant: companies that view DG compliance as a competitive advantage in which procedures, support and investment are well positioned for future needs.
DG pros who work at Basically Compliant companies – and there were many in the audience — know changing their companies’ approach requires patience and perseverance, but there’s a whole community ready to help. “At the end of the day,” Finn concluded, ”we may come from different cultures and different parts of the world, but we’re all connected by a common theme – keeping the DG supply chain safe and compliant.”
Thinking safety first at Great Dane
Compliance is ultimately about safety, and safety was at the heart of Wednesday’s keynote delivered by David Ritchie, Corporate Safety Director of Great Dane Trailers.
“Great Dane was known as a premier company, with a reputation for high-quality products,” said Ritchie. “In 2015 we thought we were steady on safety, but we had the wool pulled over our eyes.” That was the year two men died in workplace accidents within a few months, and the company’s leadership decided they could not go on without fundamental changes.
Ritchie explained, “We had to examine why people make the decisions they make. Why did they think it was okay to operate outside safety processes? It feels good to take risks, to say ‘I’m good enough to operate this machine faster with the guard off.’ We needed a way to connect the dots between taking risk and poor outcomes, and we made it personal, about how it could affect your family.”
The resulting Think Safety First campaign “created a different pattern of thoughts to keep awareness high and tolerance low,” said Ritchie. “Together we help each other to sustain those levels.”
The numbers back him up. The company has cut its Recordable Incident Rate from 7.1 in 2015 to 1.5 today – a 71% improvement. Ritchie said, “Statistically that means 271 people have avoided serious injuries. But we don’t celebrate hard, because 100 people are going to get hurt this year. We’re not going to stop until it’s zero — that’s the only acceptable number.”
Three glimpses at future DG technology
Three afternoon sessions gave the audience glimpses of new technology that may change the way we ship hazmat in the not-too-distant future.
Kim Wee — Head, Cargo Publications and Training Products of IATA — spoke about and demonstrated RampVR, the organization’s new virtual reality training system. By letting trainees experience virtual situations that are cumbersome or challenging to reproduce in traditional field training, virtual reality familiarizes them with different aircraft, day/night operations, different visibility levels and other irregular scenarios. Results? Improved retention, higher enthusiasm and more confidence.
Mark Wuennenberg, VP of Regulatory Affairs at Drone Delivery Canada, discussed the potential of unmanned aircraft systems for hazmat transport. He explained, “Because there is no crew on the aircraft, in certain circumstances you can transport Dangerous Goods you couldn’t on a manned aircraft. You can accept greater risk.” His company is working with regulators in Canada and the U.S. to establish the appropriate regulations.
Nicolas Carlone, Assistant Director of DGR and Cargo Publications at IATA, and Labelmaster Vice President Software & Customer Success Mario Sagastume discussed progress on IATA’s DG AutoCheck—a digital solution that checks the compliance of the Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods against all relevant rules and regulations. “With a confluency of demand,” Carlone explained, “this is a repetitive process ripe for automation.”
North American Regulatory Updates
In sharing regulatory developments for the rest of 2019 and beyond, leaders from three North American agencies also shared insights about their organizations’ priorities.
Matt Nickels, Senior Regulations Officer at PHMSA: “We’re trying to be much more innovative. How do we do it better, more safely, more efficiently? How do we improve that last 100th of a percent?”
Vincent J, Desiderio, Hazardous Materials Program Specialist at USPS: “My mom is the most dangerous person in the world to us.” (He actually called his mother at this point to ask her if she knew what an SDS was. She didn’t.)
Dave Evans, Air Transport Association of Canada: “There’s a proposal to remove the red hatchings from shipping documents. I am not in favor.”
Look for the Day 2 recap Friday morning!
Labelmaster is a full-service provider of goods and services for hazardous materials and Dangerous Goods professionals, shippers, transport operators and EH&S providers. See our full line of solutions at labelmaster.com.