Gear Up for Change: The 2024 ERG Arrives in May

One of the most popular and certainly among the most useful and used of the USDOT’s family of publications is almost due for its revised issuance. The Emergency Response Guide, typically referred to simply as the “ERG,” will make its every-fourth-year reappearance in late May. The 2024 edition will supersede the current 2020 edition.

The ERG is THE go-to guide for emergency response to hazardous materials incidents ranging from traffic accidents to industrial chemical release or spills, and a myriad of other potential hazardous materials incidents. One can find an ERG almost anywhere, from the cabs of firefighting vehicles and police cars through to plant safety offices. Its individual pages are sometimes even used to provide necessary emergency response information for hazardous materials shipments in accordance with the requirements found at US 49 CFR Part 172 Subpart G. (Note: Safety Data Sheets (SDS’s) are a somewhat more common document also used for this purpose. The 49 CFR does not specify a specific document’s use, but instead requires the provision of specific emergency response information that may be satisfied in any number of ways)

Like any other regulatory related document (the ERG however is NOT a regulation, but instead a guidance document) the ERG is subject to revision. After all, a lot can change in four years, and that’s how often the revised ERG appears. So, the 2024 edition does have some changes in it. The DOT very helpfully provides a change document that indicates the changes, and some are likely to be a bit more of interest than others may be. So, let’s talk about some of what might be considered “major changes” a little. Please note that as such, this summary does not provide a list of or information pertaining to every single change the document indicates. We’re “hitting the highlights,” so to speak.

The ERG is divided into sections often referred to by the color of the pages in them, so we’ll stick with that theme while discussing the changes using the same order that they appear in the change document:

White Section

  • Updated the table of labels, markings, and placards to remove obsolete items
  • Revised the road and rail vehicle identification guide tables
  • Added updated evacuation or shelter in place guidance
  • Added new spill control guidance
  • Added lithium battery response guidance
  • Expanded the glossary of terms

Yellow and Blue Sections

These two sections are mirror images of each other and deal with UNID numbers and Proper Shipping Names, working together. The revisions to these sections include:

  • Added newly instituted UNID numbers and their relevant proper shipping names
  • Deleted obsolete items
  • Revised some UNID entries to reflect updated Orange Section Guides

Orange Section

  • Moved the first aid recommendations to a new subsection titled “General First Aid Recommendations”
  • Added various updates to multiple guide numbers expanding guidance listing updated physical and health hazards
  • Expanded firefighting guidance in several guides
  • Guide 147 now features response for Lithium Batteries
  • Expanded caution recommendations in several guides

Green Section

  • Chemical warfare agent recommendations moved into their own new subsection section dealing with criminal use
  • Revised certain recommended buffer and evacuation distances in both Table 1 and 3

The change document also includes a short section at the end discussing the ERG mobile app and how to work with it.

With all that being said, no doubt many people would like to see the change document itself, to comprehensively review everything in it. We’ve provided a helpful link to the change document here.

If you’d like to pre-order your own copy of the new ERG to ensure you receive it as soon as possible after its issuance, that’s easy too. You can do that here.

You can also find discounted copies of the outgoing 2020 ERG at the same link. Regardless of its edition, the ERG is a great resource to help with emergency response for everyone involved in the hazardous materials community. Be sure that you have a copy for the next time you might need it!

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