Staying current with your training certification is only part of your responsibilities as a Hazmat/ DG shipper. Keeping well-informed of any relative changes which might affect your business is equally as important.

 Imagine you received your initial shipping dangerous goods by air compliance training and the following year the regulations have a new mandatory requirement that previously didn’t exist and wasn’t covered in your initial training. The international air regulations (ICAO-TI) requires recurrent training be provided within 24 months. Typically most shippers, if they are not vigilant about possible regulatory changes, will find out the hard way. Sometime it’s a relatively easy fix, their non-compliant consignment will be refused by cargo acceptance staff and they will receive a report of non-compliance with the returned shipment, if it’s legal to return by truck. The term frustrated consignment is applied here, although I’m not sure if it applies just to the shipment.

What if you ship by FedEx to Glasgow? Their US hub is in Memphis and their European hub is in Paris. That’s 3 flight acceptance checkpoints to ensure your consignment is correct.  Now what if the error does somehow get overlooked on initial acceptance and arrives at another airport for possibly interlining overseas, and the cargo acceptance staff pick up the mistake there? 1) Delayed delivery; 2) Extra costs to correct the error and re-ship; 3) Possible non-compliance fine; 4) Frustrated shipment and shipper.

I’m reminded of an air shipment involving a Division 6.1 toxic solid going to Brunei, interlining via Schiphol. The total package weight was within the acceptable quantity limits for cargo aircraft but because of a recent change in the IATA DGR packing instructions, the shipper was unaware that the weight of one of the inner containers was over the new acceptable limit for inner packages. The error wasn’t noticed until a Dutch CAA inspector questioned the package, had it opened and discovered the mistake. The shipper then had to find a re-packer in Amsterdam qualified to handle DG’s, reschedule the shipment and pay the fine which was €3500.00. We now review their product packaging with an annual audit to ensure all there packaging formats are in compliance.

For US domestic transportation only, checking with the latest version of the federal regulations (CFR49) is relatively easy. Simply go on line to the Gov’t Printing Office (GPO) website and checking the electronic version. Here’s the link or go to the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administrations (PHMSA) website and click on the regulation hyperlink.  I would strongly suggest cutting & pasting this on to your browser`s favorites.

Shipping by air is a little more complicated, as ICAO and IATA don’t have electronic versions. They do publish the changes and are available on the web; you just need to know where to look.

Concerning the International Civil Aviation Organization, you need to know their regulations are found in the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. This publication, commonly called “ICAO’s Technical Instructions” is produced biennially and is now in its second year (2013/2014). These regulations are the basic legal requirements for shipping dangerous goods, internationally, by air. There have been 3 addenda and also 3 corrigenda since it first published in January 2013. All 6 changes can be found here

As most airlines (operators) are members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), their regulations for carrying dangerous goods, called the DGR, incorporates the ICAO TI as its basis. So there is nothing in the DGR that is less restrictive than the Technical Instructions. If you have been trained using the IATA DGR you’ll know that the pointing finger (F) in the margins means that particular part referenced is in addition to the ICAO TI regulations. IATA publishes its DGR annually and even though their regulations aren’t used as a legal reference the fact remains it’s tricky to work in the industry without having them as a reference. These days air transport is a fragile business with operators and their businesses changing frequently. Interlining would be a major headache without this common reference. The current price for the DGR ($275.00) is now getting critical and I see this becoming a possible cause for non-compliance with shipper’s pinching budgets. There is little change from the ICAO regulations as of last month other than what is mentioned above, however there are still changes that you need to verify and see if they affect your operation. IATA DGR 55th Edition addendum 1

For transportation by vessel The IMDG Code has a unique sequence for compliance. The current edition, called the 2012 Edition incorporating amendment 12-36, actually became mandatory this year (2014). It was introduced last year where shippers could voluntary comply. So there is always a one year overlap from the previous edition. The IMO had one change last month December, 2013 IMDG Code Errata & Corrigenda Amendment 12-36. This is another example of where your training probably did not cover these mandatory changes. The IMO requires shipper training to be that of the country of origin`s competent authority. In the US, it’s the DOT and their require three years as the minimum. Again the regulations can change and you must stay in compliance with the current regulations regardless of when your training occurred.

So you see, regulatory compliance is not just about training, it also requires shippers staying vigilant on the regulatory changes that might affect them as well. Large corporations have regulatory departments. Having a regulatory specialist is a luxury for some companies and leaves the responsible small business owner more work keeping an eye out for possible changes that could be crucial. If this is something you feel is too cumbersome for your particular business feel free to contact me and discuss how I can possibly assist.

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