Security Training

New RSPA rules require written plan and employee training.

On March 25, 2003, the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) published its final rule on security requirements for shippers and carriers of hazardous materials. The final rule requires all hazmat shippers and carriers required to register with RSPA under 49 CFR Part 107 to have a written security plan in place by September 25, 2003. The rule also requires training of hazmat employees in the elements of the company’s security plan.

Written Security Plans
The plan must include an assessment of possible transportation security risks for hazmat shipments. RSPA has developed a template for hazmat security risk assessment that is available on its Web site at A company may use the RSPA risk assessment model or any other appropriate risk assessment program.

RSPA did not establish specific “how to” requirements for security plans. Instead, the agency noted that, besides risk assessment, security plans must also include the following components:

• Personnel security. A company must confirm the information provided by applicants hired for positions involving access to and handling of hazardous materials. This seems to require some type of background check of applicants for positions as hazmat employees (except for positions that are purely clerical or involve manufacturing, maintaining or requalifying packagings). Although the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are now developing an interim final rule on criminal background checks for drivers who hold Commercial Driver’s Licenses with a hazmat endorsement, this RSPA requirement extends to non-driver employees who have access to hazmat shipments. It also applies more broadly to confirmation of prior employment history and other information on an employment application.

All new hazmat employees must receive security awareness training within 90 days after the beginning of employment.

GAWDA’s business partner, Kroll Background America, can do background checks for members. You will receive a discount on the service cost by going through the GAWDA Web site. Go to the home page,, and under the “Resources” tab, click the “Business Services” tab, and then scroll down to Kroll Background America. By clicking this link, you will receive the GAWDA member discount for any of the many services they offer.

Please note that your CDL hazmat endorsement drivers will still be checked by the state through the federal channels when they apply for either a new hazmat endorsement or try to renew an existing endorsement. You can still do a background check on them yourself for company reasons, but not for the purpose of obtaining the hazmat endorsement.

• Unauthorized access. A company must establish measures to address the risk that unauthorized persons may gain access to hazmat shipments or transport conveyances.

• En route security. The plan must address security risks of shipments from origin to destination. Shippers may work with carriers to develop en route security plans that are appropriate for their shipments.

The written security plans need not be submitted to RSPA or any other agency. The shippers and carriers must retain the security plan for as long as it remains in effect, and must update it when circumstances change to affect the risk assessment. Security plans that conform to regulations, standards or guidelines established by other federal agencies or by international organizations or industry groups may be used to meet the RSPA requirements if the plans address the elements mandated in the RSPA final rule.

Although companies do not need to file copies of their security plans with RSPA, RSPA will enforce the security plan and training requirements in audits of shipper sites and other facilities. DOT inspectors will be looking for security plans and training records related to security, and will issue penalties if violations are found.

DOT inspectors will be looking for security plans and training records related to security, and will issue penalties if violations are found.

Security Training Requirements
The final rule also establishes new training requirements that are appended to the existing hazmat employee training requirements in 49 CFR _172.704. Companies must provide security awareness training for all hazmat employees. This training must include awareness of the security risks associated with hazardous materials transportation and the methods designed to enhance transportation security, as well as how to recognize and respond to possible security threats. The training must occur no later than the first scheduled recurrent training after March 25, 2003 (hazmat employee recurrent training is required every three years), and all hazmat employees must receive this training no later than March 24, 2006. In addition, all new hazmat employees must receive this security awareness training within 90 days after the beginning of employment.

The final rule also requires in-depth security training for all hazmat employees of companies required to have a security plan. By December 22, 2003 each hazmat employee must be trained concerning the security plan and its implementation. This in-depth training must include:

  • Company security objectives,
  • Specific security procedures,
  • Employee responsibilities,
  • Action to take in the event of a security breach,
  • The company’s organizational security structure.

OSHA or EPA hazard communications training may be used to meet these in-depth training requirements to the extent that it covers the required elements of RSPA security training.

J.J. Keller has produced a software program that can help you do your security assessments and produce your written security plan. “Transport Security Program Customizer” comes on a CD and features extensive PowerPoint training programs covering many different security issues that you can customize to your facility and then train your employees. You may order the program and other J.J. Keller products and safety literature through a link on the GAWDA Web site, which provides a 10 percent member discount. Please note that these requirements will be changed or enhanced as required in the future by the different organizations that control security regulations.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Meet the Author
Michael Dodd is GAWDA’s DOT & Security Consultant and president of MLD Safety Associates in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.