February 15, 2015 – Safety & Compliance

Cylinder Decals

The long awaited CGA C-7 publication on cylinder decals has been published. Most if not all of the precautionary statements have been modified to meet the GHS requirements, and several products require additional pictograms.

Any cylinders that you fill must have the updated decals on them when shipped after June 1, 2015, and any cylinders that you have purchased or filled by vendors must have the updated decals on them when shipped after December 1, 2015. You can read more details on this in the February Safety Topic or in the January issue of Welding & Gases Today.

PHMSA Proposes to Incorporate Special Permits into HMRs

The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration has issued a proposed rule to incorporate some 98 widely used or long-standing special permits that have an established safety record into the Hazardous Materials Regulations. 80 Fed. Reg. 5339 (January 30, 2015). The review and rulemaking was required by Congress in MAP-21; PHMSA is requesting comments on the proposed inclusions.

Special permits set forth alternative requirements—or a variance—to the requirements in the HMRs in a way that achieves a safety level at least equal to that required under the regulations. By incorporating the special permits into the HMRs, the holders and participants of the SPs will no longer have to apply for renewal every several years. In addition, all entities will be allowed to use the procedures or devices included in the special permits.

If adopted, some 728 special permit holders and participants would be affected by this proposed rule. Some of the special permits proposed for amendment into the HMR are related to DOT specification cylinders, aerosol containers, pressure vessels, portable tanks and package labeling

The special permits proposed for incorporation are divided into five topic areas:

  • Cylinders—general
  • Cylinders—non-destructive testing/aerosols
  • Cargo tanks/rail cars/portable tanks
  • Operational air/vessel
  • Operational highway/rail/shipper/other.

FMCSA Issues Bulletin to Medical Examiners on Sleep Apnea

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published a bulletin to medical examiners on the FMCSA’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners of the current physical qualifications standard and advisory criteria concerning the respiratory system. Specifically, the bulletin addresses how the requirements apply to drivers that may have obstructive sleep apnea.

The bulletin states that obstructive sleep apnea is a respiratory disorder characterized by a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep coupled with symptoms such as excessive daytime sleepiness. Given this, OSA may culminate in unpredictable and sudden incapacitation (e.g., falling asleep at the wheel), thus contributing to the potential for crashes, injuries and fatalities. The bulletin also references the agency’s advisory criteria from October 5, 2000, which clarifies when a driver meets the medical standards in 391.41(b)(5) on respiratory function: “Since a driver must be alert at all times, any change in his or her mental state is in direct conflict with highway safety. Even the slightest impairment in respiratory function under emergency conditions (when greater oxygen supply is necessary for performance) may be detrimental to safe driving. There are many conditions that interfere with oxygen exchange and may result in incapacitation, including emphysema, chronic asthma, carcinoma, tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis and sleep apnea. If the medical examiner detects a respiratory dysfunction that in any way is likely to interfere with the driver’s ability to safely control and drive a commercial motor vehicle, the driver must be referred to a specialist for further evaluation and therapy. Anticoagulation therapy for deep vein thrombosis and/or pulmonary thromboembolism is not unqualifying once optimum dose is achieved, provided lower extremity venous examinations remain normal and the treating physician gives a favorable recommendation.”

There are no guidelines for OSA screening, diagnosis or treatment; medical examiners are allowed to use their judgment and expertise in evaluating drivers under the 391.41(b)(5) requirements. The FMCSA advises:

  • Screening: With regard to identifying drivers with undiagnosed OSA, FMCSA’s regulations and advisory criteria do not include screening guidelines. Medical examiners should consider common OSA symptoms such as loud snoring, witnessed apneas or sleepiness during the major wake periods, as well as risk factors, and consider multiple risk factors such as body mass index (BMI), neck size, involvement in a single-vehicle crash, etc.
  • Diagnosis: Methods of diagnosis include in-laboratory polysomnography, at-home polysomnography, or other limited channel ambulatory testing devices which ensure chain of custody.
  • Treatment: OSA is a treatable condition, and drivers with moderate-to-severe OSA (defined by an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) of greater than or equal to 15) can manage the condition effectively to reduce the risk of drowsy driving. Treatment options range from weight loss to dental appliances to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy, and combinations of these treatments. The agency’s regulations and advisory criteria do not include recommendations for treatments for OSA, and FMCSA believes the issue of treatment is best left to the treating healthcare professional and the driver.

FMCSA Releases Crash Weighting Analysis

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released its long-awaited report to Congress analyzing: (1) whether police accident reports provide sufficient, consistent, and reliable information to support crash weighting determinations; (2) whether a crash weighting determination process would offer an even stronger predictor of carrier crash risk than the current assessment method; and (3) how the agency might reasonably manage and support a process for making crash weighting determinations, including the acceptance of public input.

Weighting of truck crashes by fault is important for motor carriers’ safety records; at present, carriers’ Safety Management System scores include all crashes, whether the carrier or its driver was at fault or not.

The report cited the unreliable nature of many police accident reports with regard to assigning fault and questioned whether using a fault-based approach would provide a better predictor of future crashes. The FMCSA concluded, “Modifying the SMS Crash Indicator to include crash weighting improves its ability to predict future crash rates when fatal crashes alone are used. However, fatal crashes represent less than 3 percent of all crashes in the [system].” The agency continued, “Analysis using all crashes shows that incorporating crash weighting determinations does not consistently improve the Crash Indicator when the various weighting approaches are applied.” Public comments on the study are requested.