Making Hazmat Regulation Compliance Less Hazardous
Hazardous material (hazmat) transport regulations can often seem like a foreign language. An abundance of unique terms leaves many shippers perplexed. Even the phrase "hazardous materials" can be confusing because the term "dangerous goods" is standard outside the United States.
And with regulations constantly shifting and changing, it gets increasingly harder for shippers to remain compliant.
Failing to comply with hazardous material regulations can result in costly fines. Over the past five years, government agencies issued nearly $50 million in penalties to shippers for compliance violations.
In addition, enforcement agencies may prohibit companies from shipping hazardous materials altogether until they implement corrective action plans and correct procedures.
Technologies for Hazmat Shipping
New technologies often require new or amended regulations to improve safety, making it vital to understand current exemptions and restrictions. For example, if lithium batteries are stored improperly, they can generate heat or start fires. As a result, U.S. and international regulations regarding lithium cells and batteries have changed significantly.
In highly competitive markets where every minute counts, companies seek ways to speed hazardous material shipment processing while maintaining compliance. The following technologies allow them to do both:
- Electronic regulations. Links between various regulations allow shippers to quickly see how the rules vary among shipment modes.
- Online training. While the classroom is best, online instruction can help supplement a training program.
- Software. New solutions allow shippers to automatically check shipments against the latest regulations.
Software Criteria Selection
With software becoming a preferred method to manage hazmat compliance, selecting the most effective programs becomes essential. Key selection criteria include:
- Carrier approval. Major carriers such as UPS and FedEx have reviewed and approved certain software providers. Choosing approved vendors ensures that carriers will accept your hazmat shipment.
- Regulatory checks. Make sure the software’s regulatory compliance checks cover all regions your company ships in.
- Data management. The software needs robust data management capabilities to store the classification details of your hazardous material inventory, as well as any associated documents that must be printed along with the standard paperwork.
- Customization. Advanced software lets companies input their own shipping policies, load documents, and notes alongside actual regulations.
- Control. Standard administrative controls allow a central hazardous material manager to administer access rights and monitor multi-site shipping activity.
- Integration. Software should easily integrate into a corporate ERP system or manifest solution. This avoids double data entry and wasted time.
Shipping dangerous goods can be a time-consuming, confusing, and complex task. A constantly shifting regulatory environment leaves companies at significant risk of accidental violations. New technologies simplify these regulations, helping shippers avoid costly fines and suspended operations.