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End of Temporary Enforcement Discretion By PHMSA Regarding Recurrent Hazmat Training

On March 25, 2020, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) issued a notice of enforcement action regarding obtaining or providing recurrent training to hazmat employees. The notice stated that no enforcement action would be taken against companies that were unable to provide recurrent training for 90 days. On June 24, 2020, PHMSA extended the hold on enforcement actions until October 31, 2020.

PHMSA recognized that the unprecedented changes in business practices related to the COVID-19 outbreak left many companies without a means to obtain or provide recurrent training for their employees in their traditional ways, such as in person classroom training. While time was provided for companies to adjust their training plans, this enforcement discretion was never anticipated to be permanent.

October 31, 2020, is almost here, how does this effect companies?

The hazardous materials regulations are found in 49 CFR Parts 100–180. The regulations are enforced by PHMSA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the US Coast Guard.

The training requirements are found in 49 CFR Subpart H (172.700). All hazmat employees are required to receive training within 90 days of beginning hazmat functions and recurrent training at least every 3 years after that. PHMSA’s policy meant that no enforcement actions would be taken against a company that didn’t provide recurrent training between March 25 and October 31, 2020. The policy never applied to initial training.

After October 31, 2020, PHMSA expects that companies have been able to rework and adapt their operations with the COVID crises in mind and can provide the recurrent training as required by the regulations. This means that violations and penalties will be issued for non-compliance with the recurrent training requirements.

Penalties for non-compliance with the recurrent training requirements can be $1,000+ per employee and can add up quickly.

How does a company avoid being in non-compliance?

The simple answer is to get your training updated now before you are out of time. There is no requirement for hazmat training to be given in an in-person classroom setting. In the notice, PHMSA states that training can be provided by any method including webinars or self-paced online computer-based instruction such as online hazmat training provide by American Cylinder and Safety.


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