Why do I need DOT training?

“I’m just signing the manifest. Why do I need to be DOT trained, tested, and certified?”

One of the questions we get asked frequently by our clients is, “Why do we need DOT Training? We don’t drive any trucks, and you guys pack the hazardous waste for us.” As is common with regulations, we must read the fine print to make sense of things. 

Let’s start with the basics. When you sign a hazardous waste manifest, you are signing a Certification Statement required by 49 CFR 172.204 for the shipment of hazardous materials. The Certification Statement on the manifest comes from DOT Regulation 49 CFR 172.204(a)(2): “I hereby declare that the contents of this consignment are fully and accurately described above by the proper shipping name and are classified, packaged, marked, labeled/placarded, and are in all respects in proper condition for transport according to applicable international and national governmental regulations.” So…how can the signer possibly make that declaration if they haven’t been trained on the requirements?

If you want to dive deeper into the rules, let’s jump over to the DOT training requirements that can be found in 49 CFR 172, Subpart H. Specifically, section 172.702(a) states, “A hazmat employer shall ensure that each of its hazmat employees is trained in accordance with the requirements prescribed in this subpart.” It’s fairly straightforward…if you have a hazmat employee, they must be trained. 

Further, 49 CFR 172.702(b) states that “Except as provided in 172.704(c)(1), a hazmat employee who performs any function subject to the requirements of this subchapter may not perform that function unless instructed in the requirements of this subchapter that apply to that function. It is the duty of each hazmat employer to comply with the applicable requirements of this subchapter and to thoroughly instruct each hazmat employee in relation thereto.” That statement, “performs any function subject to the requirements of this subchapter,” leads us to look at something the DOT calls “pre-transportation functions.”
So, what exactly is a hazmat employee, and what exactly are pre-transportation functions? Let’s start with DOT’s definitions. They can be found by jumping to 49 CFR 171.8. The definition of a hazmat employee includes employees who directly affect hazardous material transportation safety. This includes employees who prepare hazardous materials for transportation or, in other words, a pre-transportation function. The definition of pre-transportation function can also be found at 49 CFR 171.8 and includes “Certifying that a hazardous material is in proper condition for transportation in conformance with the requirements of the HMR.” This last part takes us back to the certification statement in 49 CFR 172.204.

​​​​​​Lastly, don’t take our word for it; see the DOT’s own interpretation letter on this topic: https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/interp/02-0050

Here are some other FAQs in regard to DOT training: 

How long is the training good for? 49 CFR 172.704(c)(2)
Recurrent training. A hazmat employee must receive the training required by this subpart at least once every three years. For in-depth security training required under paragraph (a)(5) of this section, a hazmat employee must be trained at least once every three years or, if the security plan for which training is required is revised during the three-year recurrent training cycle, within 90 days of implementation of the revised plan.

How soon does a new employee need to be trained? 49 CFR 172.704(c)(1)
Initial Training. 
A new hazmat employee, or a hazmat employee who changes job functions, may perform those functions prior to the completion of the training, provided:
(i) The employee performs those functions under the direct supervision of a properly trained and knowledgeable hazmat employee; and
(ii) The training is completed within 90 days after employment or a change in job function.​​​​

What recordkeeping requirements are there? 49 CFR 172.704(d)
Recordkeeping. Each hazmat employer must create and retain a record of the current training of each hazmat employee, including the preceding three years, in accordance with this section for as long as that employee is employed by that employer as a hazmat employee and for 90 days thereafter. A hazmat employer must make a hazmat employee’s record of current training available upon request, at a reasonable time and location, to an authorized official of the Department of Transportation or an entity explicitly granted authority to enforce the HMR. The record must include the following:
(1) The hazmat employee’s name;
(2) The most recent training completion date of the hazmat employee’s training;
(3) A description, copy, or the location of the training materials used to meet the requirements in paragraph (a) of this section;
(4) The name and address of the person providing the training; and
(5) Certification that the hazmat employee has been trained and tested, as required by this subpart.

If the above information is overwhelming and you need help making a long story short, Ingenium EHS specialists are here to help. We offer bi-monthly DOT training sessions to assist your employees in meeting the regulatory requirements for certification. Click here to register.

Please contact us for more information or to schedule a service. 

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