DOT Audits

DOT audits were a big item last year, and I fully expect them to continue in 2011. In past years, these were typically initiated as a security review and, while the inspectors were there, they reviewed other topics such as shipping papers, driver qualification files, alcohol and substance abuse programs, hours of service records, vehicle files and other DOT items as they wished.

In 2010, most of the audits were full-blown compliance reviews. Some audits were with one inspector and lasted from a few hours to as many as two inspectors taking several days. Based on what they found and how they felt about the company, the penalties ranged from a few hundred dollars to as high as $16,000 per company. Most averaged $4,000 to $6,000 per audit.

Thankfully, GAWDA members who did mock DOT audits and training had perfect scores and no fines assessed.

Penalties Assessed
DOT has published a list of baseline amounts or ranges for frequently cited violations. Below are  a few selected examples that apply to our industry of the many listed in a table found in 49 CFR 107 Appendix A of Subpart D.

  • Failure to register as an offeror or carrier of hazardous materials and pay the registration fee:  $1,000 + $500 for each year not registered
  • Failure to provide hazmat training or recurrent training at least every three years (general awareness, safety, function specific or security awareness):  $450 and up for each area
  • Failure to provide security training when a security plan is required:  $2,500
  • Failure to develop a security plan or failure to adhere to the security plan:  $3,000 – $7,500, based on the type
  • of materials
  • Failure to include a proper shipping name or using an incorrect shipping name on a shipping paper:  $800 – $1,600
  • Failure to include a hazard class/division number on a shipping paper:  $1,000 – $2,000
  • Using an incorrect hazard class/identification number…
    • That does not affect compatibility requirements: $800
    • That changes the response information:  $3,000 - $6,000
  • Using a shipping paper that includes additional unauthorized information (extra or incorrect words):  $800
  • Failure to properly placard a vehicle containing hazardous material…
    • Table 1 materials: $1,000 – $9,000
    • Table 2 materials: $800 – $7,200
  • Filling and offering a cylinder that is out of test:  $4,200 - $10,400
  • Failure to do a settled pressure test or recordkeeping for 30 days for acetylene cylinders filled:  $5,000
  • Failure to have a requalifier identification number:  $4,000
  • Failure to conduct a complete external and internal examination of a cylinder during the retest:  $2,100 – $5,200
  • Performing hydrostatic testing without confirming the accuracy of the test equipment:  $2,100 – $5,200
  • Failure to condemn a cylinder when required (exceeding the permanent expansion values, internal or external corrosion limits, denting, bulging, etc.):  $6,000 – $10,000
  • Failure to give immediate notification of a reportable hazardous materials incident:  $3,000.
Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Michael Dodd Meet the Author
GAWDA’s DOT, Security, OSHA & EPA Consultant Michael Dodd is president of MLD Safety Associates in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Members can reach him at 573-718-2887 and MLDSafety@hotmail.com.