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Does DOT/IATA Training for Transportation of Hazardous Materials Prevent Incidents?

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Feb 14, 2011 3:11:26 AM

DOT and IATA governs transport of hazardous materialsCapt. John DeFillippo, CHMP, EMT-B

“Every day there are more than 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials (hazmat) in trucks-usually flammable liquids, such as gasoline, or flammable gas. About 200 hazmat trucks a year are involved in fatal crashes and 5,000 in nonfatal crashes. Although these numbers are small relative to the totals of almost 5,000 trucks involved in fatal crashes and 400,000 involved in nonfatal crashes annually, the potential for human injury and property damage in hazmat crashes is much greater.”

Ralph Craft, Ph.D.
Analysis Division, Office of Information Management, US Department of Transportation


800,000 daily shipments of hazardous materials = about 4 BILLION TONS every year!  There are about 5,200 truck crashes involving these shipments annually. When you do the math, well over 99% of these hazmat shipments make it to their destinations with no problems. Why? One primary factor is training specific to the laws  directing the handling, shipping and transporting hazardous materials.  According to federal law, if you ship or transport hazardous materials, or are involved with pretty much any aspect of it, you are required to complete proper training. Why? It is the shipper's responsibility to ensure each hazardous material package or box -- no matter how it is transported -- is in compliance with applicable DOT regulations.

Ground Transportation


Training for the ground transportation of hazardous materials is specified by the DOT (Department of Transportation) to ensure that federal laws are understood and followed.  This training must include

  • General Awareness of the regulations and hazard identification,

  • Function-specific curriculum by the employer to determine the appropriate level based upon the employee’s duties AND the hazards involved.

  • Emergency response information required by the regulation

  • Measures to protect the employee and others from the hazards associated with hazardous materials

  • Methods and procedures for avoiding accidents

  • Proper procedures for handling packages containing hazardous materials

  • Security awareness training


The DOT training must be completed within 90 days of a person starting a hazmat job AND the DOT training must be documented and refreshed every 3 years. This rule includes drivers, even if they are owner-operators.

Shipping by Air, Too?


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has jurisdiction over how you handle and transport hazardous materials by air.
“Ensuring that undeclared dangerous goods do not get on board an aircraft is one of many key objectives of IATA's dangerous goods program. By defining standards for documentation, handling and training, and by actively promoting the adoption and use of those standards by the air cargo industry, a very high degree of safety has been achieved in dangerous goods transport.”

These requirements are set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations. After initial training, refresher training is required WITHIN 2 years if you ship by air -- domestic or international.

Hazmat transport on the ground or in the air is serious business.


Don’t think training matters? Consider these consequences for non-compliance!

  • Shippers and transporters are subject to inspection by DOT and or FAA investigators. Training records are one of the first things they’ll ask for. Fines can range up to $250,000.00, and imprisonment is a possibility.

  • If there is an accident or incident, employee training logs as well as contributing health and safety policies will be closely examined to determine fault, penalties, fines and other actions.

  • Liability and workers compensation rates are effected by both incident and accident levels.

  • Business disruption and reputation damage are factors to consider as well.

  • Ignorance of the law…not a legal excuse!


As an example, I know of one case where a small quantity of hazardous material found its way, undeclared, onto an aircraft. Proposed penalty: $225,000 (without accident, injury or loss of life). Add to this the bad PR – employees, vendors and the public will know that your actions may have caused injury or death -- and the importance of compliance becomes apparent.

The most common scenario that we encounter at Emilcott is prepackaging.  Whether it’s a sample or a small amount, a hazardous material is casually boxed and labeled by someone who is unaware of DOT/IATA rules. And the shipping person has no idea what’s inside…and doesn’t ask. With proper DOT/IATA training, everyone from the shipping clerk up to management understands the processes for ensuring that packages get delivered safely from points A to B without endangering workers, drivers, and public on its way.

Are you trained properly? What about the rest of your company?


Are you shipping products that may be hazardous?  Do you even know how to find out? Is your training up-to-date with the Refresher courses mandated by the DOT and FAA?  Have you considered the cascade of repercussions that shipping one package incorrectly could cause for your company or fellow workers?   The bottom line?  Only trained persons are permitted to be involved with the transportation of hazardous materials.  It is what makes the process work safely…for everyone!   Get DOT and IATA training today – to protect yourself and the public.

Emilcott offers two different HazMat transporation (DOT/IATA) training courses:


DOT/IATA Compliance


This half-day course trains workers to comply with DOT/IATA regulations for the ground (DOT) and air (IATA) handling, shipping or storage of hazardous materials and waste. Presented as a hands-on workshop, the Emilcott DOT/IATA training course covers the intentions and basics of the DOT Hazardous Materials regulation and the IATA requirements for air shipments. Students will learn about the Hazardous Materials Table, shipping papers, determining the proper shipping name, emergency information, packaging and transportation and meets the initial training requirements of both 49 CFR 172.704 and DGR 1.5.0.


It is particularly valuable for those with any responsibilities for health and safety at their job sites. If you have already had Initial DOT/IATA training, you must attend a DOT Refresher every three years and every two years for IATA.

Topics: General Industry H&S, Emilcott, General EHS, H&S Training, DOT, Hazardous Waste Management, HazCom, Hazardous Materials, Compliance, Occupational Safety, regulation, Hazard Communication Standard, Public Safety, Lab Safety

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