The FMCSA’s goal is to make the roads safer – they regulate the trucking industry with safety as a top priority. Trucks are subject to many different laws, regulations, and requirements. Inspections can be stressful, but they are inevitable. Trucking safety is important, and that includes the proper handling of hazardous materials. That’s why there’s an entire BASIC (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) about it, and it’s called, unsurprisingly, the Hazardous Materials Compliance BASIC. We’ll go over what you need to know about this particular BASIC.
What is the Hazardous Materials Compliance BASIC?
The FMCSA is, as we mentioned, very concerned about safety. That’s why they use seven categories (the BASICs) to see how motor carriers fare compared to other businesses with similar safety “records” – meaning similar inspections, violations, and crashes. Essentially a ranking in the BASIC category shows how the motor carrier stacks up compared to similar businesses – whether they do better or worse safety-wise than others in that particular category. Hazardous Materials is one of those seven categories. (The others are Crash Indicator, Vehicle Maintenance, Unsafe Driving, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Driver Fitness, and Hours of Service Compliance.)
The Hazardous Materials Compliance BASIC is about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) found at 49 CFR Part 397 and Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs) 49 CFR Parts 171-173 and 177-180. The regulations are all about transporting hazardous materials safely.
What could cause a poor score in the Hazardous Materials Compliance BASIC?
To give an idea of what could hurt a motor carrier in this category, here are several safety violations that could cause a poor ranking:
- Not marking, labeling, or placarding according to regulations
- Not securing a load that has hazardous materials properly
- Cargo tank specification testing violations
- Loading or unloading violations
- Attendance violations
- Leakage violations
Violations of the regulations under this BASIC cause the percentile ranking to go up. (The percentage comes from roadside inspection results.) That means that there is a lower level of safety compliance, and this could mean FMCSA intervention (such as a warning letter or investigation). Motor carriers can find out how they’re doing in this BASIC by using the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS). If there are safety issues, they will see a warning sign with the BASIC. It is not available to the public. Only a motor carrier that is logged into its safety profile and enforcement personnel can see it.
(If the motor carrier feels that certain records are not correct, they can use DataQs to ask for a review.)
Pro tip: Keep important documents that Safety Investigators may want to see in an investigation, including HM incident reports, HM shipping papers, Hazardous Waste manifests, Manufacturer’s Certificates for the cargo tank, and proof of Hazardous Materials training.
How can motor carriers improve in this BASIC?
It’s important for motor carriers to understand this BASIC, and there are a few ways they can improve in this category.
Motor carriers should make sure their drivers know the relevant regulations for transporting hazardous materials. Drivers need to know how to transport hazardous materials safely and lawfully. (They should know the 49 CFR 397 and the HMRs.) Drivers should also know how to prevent issues that could cause safety problems. (This includes understanding the proper methods for packaging, marking, labeling, placarding, and loading hazardous materials according to the FMCSRs and HMRs.)
Pro tip: Motor carriers need to be familiar with applicable resources from the FMCSA so they can let their drivers know where they can go to find more information.
Basically, it all boils down to training drivers properly and being familiar with relevant regulations.
It’s really important for motor carriers to pay attention to their SMS scores and commit to safety so they can get strong BASIC scores. Hazardous materials are no joke, so motor carriers need to know the regulations relating to transporting these loads.
Truck businesses face a lot of risks, which is why it’s so important for them to have the right insurance. Our team of transportation insurance experts can help you get the insurance you need to protect your business. Get started with your truck insurance quotes by filling out our online form, giving us a call, or messaging us on LiveChat.