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Final Rule Alert: Hazmat Civil Penalties Increased

Posted on 8/6/2019 by Roger Marks

Effective July 31, 2019, US DOT has increased civil penalties for Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) violations. With hazmat civil penalties assessed on a per day, per violation basis, even minor increases to these penalty amounts can add up quickly.

Civil penalties for hazmat violations—including failure to train employees—are assessed by DOT PHMSA, FAA, FRA, FMCSA, and other modal agencies, and are adjusted annually to keep pace with inflation.  

The new civil penalty amounts are as follows:
  • The maximum civil penalty for a violation of hazardous materials transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5123(a)(1)) increased from $79,976 to $81,993 per day, per violation.
  • For a violation that results in death, serious illness, severe injury, or substantial property damage, the civil penalty rose from $186,610 to $191,316.
  • The minimum penalty for a hazmat training violation went up $12 to $493 per employee, per day. Hazmat training is required for all hazmat employees once every three years (49 CFR 172.704).  
Find online hazmat training for employees or attend the expert-led Hazmat Ground Shipper Certification Workshop presented nationwide.  

Why Hazmat Penalties Matter

Each time PHMSA increases civil penalties, it underscores the value of hazardous materials compliance management. While civil penalty amounts for typical shipping violations may not reach the upper limits in every case, monetary penalties are part of a risk assessment for businesses that ship or transport hazardous materials.

That said, the consequences of hazmat noncompliance go far beyond financial penalties.

When hazardous materials are not classified, packaged, labeled, and handled properly, the costs can be both human and business-related. Injury to employees and/or logistics workers are not uncommon in cases when hazardous materials are released during loading, unloading, or transit.

When a consignment is not prepared according to the latest hazmat regulations—like US DOT’s 49 CFR regulations, the IATA DGR, the IMDG Code, or another set of rules—the carrier may reject or delay the shipment and require re-packaging or re-labeling. In an environment where every minute counts, these mistakes can severely impact supply chain efficiency and affect relationships with carriers, vendors, and customers.

Hazmat Training—Online or In the Classroom

All hazmat employees need a solid grasp of the hazmat regulations and what they must do to help maintain compliance. Every step of the hazmat shipping process is regulated in some way, and even small mistakes can lead to injuries, emergencies, rejected shipments, and fines that get more expensive every year.  

New hazmat employees must complete DOT hazmat training within 90 days of their hire date and may not perform any unsupervised hazmat job function until they are trained.

The Hazmat Ground Shipper Certification public workshop or online course covers what professionals need to know to identify and properly prepare hazardous materials for transport by highway. IATA DGR and IMDG Code courses are also available for new or experienced hazmat professionals who prepare or offer air or vessel shipments.
 

Tags: DOT, fines and penalties, hazmat shipping, hazmat training, new rules

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