PHMSA updates inspections for perishable hazardous materials

Washington – Beginning Nov. 1, Department of Transportation safety inspectors must follow new notification procedures when opening packages containing perishable hazardous materials that are deemed unsafe or non-compliant with safety regulations, according to a final rule from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Examples of perishable hazardous materials include medical products that can decay or spoil quickly and are needed to treat a medical condition within a critical period of time.

Authorized inspectors already are permitted to open and remove hazardous materials from a package when no alternative method of determining the package’s safety is available. Under the new rule, published Oct. 2, inspectors now must notify the party responsible for the package that an investigation is taking place and provide any other relevant details in an “immediate and reasonable” amount of time.

Additionally, employees conducting inspections must use all personal protective equipment and safety gear required by their employing agency for handling hazardous materials.

These changes, among others, were mandated by the Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety Improvement Act to help ensure “transparency and consistency” in hazardous materials investigations, PHMSA stated.