PHMSA Proposes Harmonization with International Standards for Transport

Last month, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for HM-215O – Harmonization with International Standards. In the NPRM, PHMSA proposes to amend the Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR) to maintain alignment with international regulations and standards.

This rulemaking action would amend the HMR, where appropriate, to maintain alignment with international standards that will become effective Jan. 1, 2019, and consequently facilitate the safe global trade of hazardous materials. Proposals in this rulemaking action include: non-testing methods to classify corrosive materials, a classification scheme and transport provisions for articles containing hazardous materials that do not already have a proper shipping name, a lithium battery test summary document, provisions to recognize one-time movement approvals issued by Transport Canada, and the incorporation by reference of various international standards including the latest editions of the UN Model Regulations, the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, the International Civil Aviation Organization Technical Instructions (ICAO TI), and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) technical standards applicable to cylinders.

PHMSA has stated that harmonization enhances safety, facilitates compliance, and improves the efficiency of the global transportation system by minimizing the regulatory burden on the public thus promoting trade.

ACA, through its Transport Committee, will be submitting comments on the PHMSA proposal by the Jan. 28, 2019 deadline.

The following provides a summary of the PHMSA proposal’s most pertinent amendments for the paint and coatings industry.

High Viscosity Flammable Liquids

PHMSA proposes to remove special provision 383 which allows certain high viscosity flammable liquids, when offered for transportation by motor vehicle, to be reassigned to packing group III when packaged in UN metal drums with a capacity not exceeding 220 L (58 gallons). Proposed amendments to § 173.121 in this NPRM, if adopted, would provide a larger capacity package, additional packaging options, and more modes of transport (all modes except air). PHMSA believes these amendments to § 173.121 provide more regulatory relief than the existing provisions of special provision 383, and thus are proposing the deletion of special provision 383 and the removal of the special provision from the HMT for those entries to which it is assigned.

Changes to Section 173.121

Section 173.121 provides criteria for the assignment of packing groups to Class 3 materials. Paragraph (b) provides criteria for viscous flammable liquids of Class 3 (e.g., paints, enamels, lacquers, and varnishes) to be placed in packing group III based on their viscosity, coupled with other criteria. Consistent with recent changes to the IMDG Code, PHMSA is proposing to amend paragraph (b)(1)(iii) to authorize a packaging capacity up to 450 L (119 gallons), an increase from the presently authorized 30 L.

This proposed change would increase the allowed volume of viscous liquids in a single package and would be applicable to all modes except for air. Specifically, in this NPRM, PHMSA is proposing to increase the packaging limits for viscous flammable liquids of packing group II material that may be placed in packing group III. For transport by vessel, PHMSA proposes an increase from 30 L to 450 L. For transport by rail and highway, PHMSA proposes an increase from 100 L to 450 L. Consistent with the ICAO Technical Instructions, the packaging quantity limits to air will remain 30 L for passenger aircraft and 100 L for cargo aircraft.

Alternative Criteria for Classification of Corrosive Materials

PHMSA proposes to include non-testing alternatives for classifying corrosive mixtures that instead use existing data on the chemical properties. Currently, the HMR Currently the HMR require offerors to classify Class 8 corrosive material and assign a packing group based on test data. The HMR authorize a skin corrosion test and various in vitro test methods that do not involve animal testing. However, data obtained from either currently authorized test is generally the only data acceptable for classification and assignment of a packing group.

Changes to Section 173.137 and Appendix I to Part 173

Section 173.137 prescribes the requirements for assigning a packing group to Class 8 materials. In the NPRM, consistent with changes to the UN Model Regulations, PHMSA proposes to include alternative packing group assignment methods for making a corrosivity classification determination for mixtures that do not involve testing. These proposed amendments include bridging principles and a calculation method for the classification of mixtures.

In a new paragraph (d), PHMSA proposes creating an alternative, tiered approach to classification and packing group assignment depending on how much information is available about the mixture itself, similar mixtures, and/or the mixture’s ingredients. When sufficient data is available on similar mixtures to estimate skin corrosion hazards for bridging, the bridging principle method may be used to classify and assign a packing group. When no bridging data is available, the more conservative calculation method may be used. This tiered approach ensures an appropriate level of safety in situations where reliable data may not be available. These alternatives for classifying corrosive mixtures allow offerors the ability to make a classification and packing group assignment without having to conduct physical tests.

Additionally, the new corrosivity classification methods are much more closely aligned with those found in the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling (GHS). However, not all GHS corrosivity classification methods were incorporated in the new UN Model Regulations corrosivity requirements. For example, the use of extreme pH values to assign corrosivity were not addressed in the UN Model Regulations, and as such are not proposed in this NPRM.

Competency Based Training

PHMSA is seeking public comments on a Competency Based Training approach in this NPRM. The 2017-2018 ICAO TI included proposed revisions to their training provisions in Attachment 4,4 noting that these provisions would replace the current Part 1; Chapter 4 in the 2019-2020 edition. The provisions presented at the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel and included in the 2017-2018 ICAO TI, on utilizing a competency-based training approach for dangerous goods have yet to be finalized and adopted. PHMSA welcomes discussions on improving the quality of employee training and assessment within the scope of the existing training regime.

The training provisions as they are currently stated in the HMR are not prescriptive and permit a wide latitude in implementation. Thus, employers can tailor employee training program in a manner that best addresses the job functions performed. Through this flexibility employers can utilize various training methods, including the Competency Based Training approach. To aid the public in developing comments, three documents containing information pertaining to Competency Based Training have been provided in the public docket for this rulemaking.

Contact ACA’s Xavier Ferrier or Rhett Cash for more information.

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