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If you have transported hazardous materials before, you know that there is special training, special packaging, and special precautions required by the FMCSA to minimize risk. Under the CSA enforcement program, failure to comply with the rules for hazmat packaging, marking, and load securement creates problems for drivers and owners alike.

The following hazmat related violations are the most common:

  • Placard obscured, deteriorated, or damaged
  • Package unsecured in vehicle
  • No cargo tank test or inspection markings
  • Placard text displayed non-horizontally
  • Emergency-response information missing
  • No shipping papers
  • Emergency-response information not available
  • No placards markings where required
  • Vehicle not placarded
  • Shipping paper accessibility

The Safety Measurement System (SMS) uses motor carrier’s data from roadside inspections to quantify the performance in the above BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories). A carrier’s measurement for each BASIC depends on the number of harmful safety events, severity of violations/crashes, and when the harmful safety events occurred.

When the measurement is determined, the carrier is placed in a peer group, carriers with the same or similar numbers of inspections and placed in percentiles from 0 to 100. A percentile 100 is the worst.To keep your BASIC cargo-related score low, you’ll always need to strive for clean inspections, secure your load properly, and follow hazardous material regulations at all times.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Avoid the high severity hazmat violations at all costs, the most severe ones include improper hazmat securement, package testing violations, package integrity violations, fire hazard violations, and marking/placarding violations.
  • Check your placards often and ensure they are clean, undamaged, and visible. Also, make sure that they display the proper information.
  • Double check shipping papers and make sure they contain all of the required elements.
  • Carry your necessary papers, depending on the type of cargo you may need any or all of the following shipping papers; hazardous waste manifest, emergency response information, certificate of registration number.
  • If you are carrying explosives you will also need a copy of part 397, accident delay instructions, and a route plan.
  • Secure the load, hazmat packages must always be secured to prevent shifting or leaking. This is actually one of the most common violations and carries the high severity of 10.
  • Keep your training up to date, you can’t haul, handle, or work with hazardous materials if you are not properly qualified, trained, and retrained. Know the types of loads that you are qualified to haul and make sure you hold the proper/valid endorsements and qualifications.

Why Hazmat regulations and guidelines are so important

Most of the high severity BASIC violations are related to hazmat securement or packaging so these areas are also the most commonly looked at. So, to earn and maintain a low BASIC score, hazmat guidelines will need to be closely followed at all times. Of the total 350 violations, around 240 of them are related to hazmat, and the drivers themselves are also held accountable for about 80 of them.

Violations will affect your individual scores for three years and your employer score for two years. However, their impact does decrease with time and your score is updated every 30 days. In addition, each clean inspection with no cargo-related violations will help to improve your score.

At Roeder Cartage Company, we pride ourselves on having our hazmat inspection scores being well below the national average. All drivers at RCC are expected to be a support group to their co-workers and assume the role of mentors to new drivers. Our drivers have a very good support team behind them with many years of experience.