For some shippers, what is required for compliance can vary depending on their company’s point of view. On one hand it can be considered as tedious regulatory bureaucracy. But in today’s competitive economy where efficiency counts, some shippers are taking compliance to another level and considering it as a competitive edge.
What has made these shippers take this approach to hazmat compliance?
We can all agree, there are many more shippers than carriers. Hazmat carriers, due to the nature of the products they carry, are faced with the dilemma of offering a selective service to a market where safety demands are high. As a result, carriers are now becoming more selective in who they want to partner with. Why would a carrier tolerate dealing with a shipper who is disorganized and jeopardizes the carrier’s operation and possible reputation?
Hazardous materials are regulated and must be prepared and offered in a specific manner and a lot of the responsibility hinges on the shipper.
A shipper who offers hazardous materials must certify on their shipping papers they are in full compliance with CFR title 49, the Hazardous Materials Regulations of the Department of Transportation,
If the shipper is careless or unaware of the specific requirements involved in shipping hazardous materials their neglect in compliance will be prroblematic. Not only from the economic aspect for both the shipper and carrier with delays and man/hour costs, but also presenting a more serious safety concern and possible fines.
Carriers that are non-compliant cannot accept hazmat. So how can carriers manage these extra costs and safety burdens? First things first, eliminate liability by reviewing the safety risks. Why do carriers charge HazMat premiums? To cover the carrier’s legal responsibilities such as personnel training and risk management but also to offset their higher insurance premiums. So, it is in their best interest to ensure they deal with shippers who take full responsibility and know what they are doing.
Developing potential shippers as customers would be unwise if the carrier knew in advance they were going to be dealing with inefficiencies. The logistics of accepting hazardous materials is more time consuming than ordinary freight. Before accepting a load a driver must: Verify the hazmat shipping papers are in order ( this is an important role and requires specific training to understand the hazmat regulations and the details that apply); the packaging is properly marked and labeled; the vehicle is placarded correctly; ensure compatibility and the load is blocked and braced correctly.
Now shippers need to attract carriers by showing they take their hazmat responsibilities serious. In developing a solid relationship with a carrier, the best approach is to show you take the products you ship seriously. This involves how they are prepared for transport so when the product is picked up and loaded, all is in order.
The key to a shipper’s success is starting with shipping and receiving personnel training and educating them so they are completely comfortable and effective at their job. Frequent reviews including updates should also be covered to ensure the knowledge of the regulations are reinforced and any regulatory changes are considered.
Depending on which hazardous materials a shipper offers, there’s a lot of regulatory specifics involved. By knowing which of their product are hazardous and by consistently taking a serious approach to shipping them in full compliance will surely attract the best carriers and a win/win is achieved.