Every individualinvolved in the handling and transportation of Dangerous Goods, whether they are consignors, manufacturers, importers or distributors, operators of road or rail vehicles or loading equipment, drivers or employers, have specific responsibilities and must adhere to a set of prescribed regulations and operating standards that dictate how the goods are marked, packaged, secured and transported.
What are Dangerous Goods?
Dangerous Goods are classified into Nine classes which indicate the hazard of the goods, explosives, gases, flammable liquids, flammable solids, oxidizers, toxic and infectious, radio actives, corrosives and miscellaneous. Packing groups, where allocated, indicate the risk of a substance.
Only Dangerous Goods transported, where not subject of an exemption, in excess of the exempt quantity for a specific substance attracts compliance with the National Road Traffic Act.
Any vehicle transporting Dangerous Goods on a South African road, unless subject to an exemption (that is transporting the Dangerous Goods in excess of the exempt quantity), must be registered.
Regulation 265 (1) (c) indicates that an operator must be registered in respect of a vehicle to which regulations 273 to 283 (Chapter VIII) apply as contemplated in regulation 274. This means that the size of the vehicle is irrelevant. Compliance will be determined by which classified substances are transported and the quantity of Dangerous Goods are transported.
Both light and heavy vehicles must display operator registration.
Operators apply for registration in terms of Regulation 266. No details of substances are recorded.
Of primary concern in Dangerous Goods transport is the competency of the drivers. The responsibility for assuring a driver is adequately trained rests with the employer.
Both light and heavy vehicle drivers transporting Dangerous Goods require training in terms of Regulation 280/117(e) (Heavy) and SANS 10231-2006 (light) as well as the Occupational Health & Safety Act 85 of 1993 and its amendments.
Companies that transport Dangerous Goods have a responsibility to ensure the vehicles and ancillary equipment they select to transport Dangerous Goods comply with the required standards, are well maintained and all appropriate safety systems are in place and are operable.
The role of the drivers in ensuring safe operation and road safety is not always fully appreciated. More effort is required to ensure adequate training is provided, working conditions are optimised and the overall wellness of DG drivers be given priority status.
According to a report by the N3TC, a major contributing factor to vehicle accidents along the N3 highway is truck driver wellness. Common illnesses such as hypertension, heart disease, epilepsy, tuberculosis and diabetes, that often go undiagnosed, have a serious effect on a person’s driving ability. If diagnosed early enough, they are easily controlled through medication, diet and exercise and will improve a driver’s overall fitness.
Transport Emergency Card
The 15th amendment of the National Road Traffic Act (93/1996) Regulations was published in the Government Gazette 32258 on May 27, 2009. Of importance to the transportation and warehousing of Dangerous Goods is the amendment to Regulation 273 that clarifies the use of the TREC Card as a transport emergency card.
The definition of “tremcard” has been substituted with the following:
“Transport emergency card” means a card can either be generated from the European Council of Chemical Manufactures’ Federation system, or in accordance with SANS 10232-4, listing the hazards and emergency information for a material being transported for use by the driver during an incident, or by the emergency services, if required.”
This definition links with the definition in SANS 10231- 2006 (Clause 3.1.25) which reads:
Transport Emergency Card:
A card that lists the hazards and emergency information for a material being transported and that is intended for the use by the driver during an incident, or by emergency services, if required. The transport emergency card can be generated from the European Council of Chemical Manufacturers’ Federation (CEFIC) system, called a TREMCARD, or in accordance with SANS 10232- , called a TREC.
Transport emergency cards must be carried in the cab (Designated space/Orange Box) of any vehicle carrying Dangerous Goods in quantities exceeding the exempt quantities. The purpose of these cards is to instruct the driver in the event of an incident. They may also assist emergency response workers, as they carry information that is specific to the particular goods being carried. A separate card must be carried for each Dangerous Goods item in the load.
The consignor must either supply the card(s) or provide information for the operator to obtain the correct card(s). This does not release the carrier from the legal responsibility to ensure that cards are appropriate to the load. It is vital that the driver read and understand the card for any product before loading it.
Both the consignor and the operator have a responsibility to ensure that the relevant tremcards are carried by the driver irrespective of who supplies the tremcards.
Operators transporting Dangerous Goods are required to identify their vehicles accordingly. This includes an orange diamond in front of the vehicle, placards on the sides and rear of the vehicle.
The Act makes provision for the appointment of a qualified person to supervise loading and offloading. This qualified person will ensure that special tasks associated with loading and offloading is managed in a responsible way.
Consignors of Dangerous Goods must ensure that a multiload of Dangerous Goods transported on a vehicle is compatible as prescribed in SANS 10231-2006 – Transportation of Dangerous Goods – Operational Requirements for Road Vehicles – Annex G
Concern has been expressed over the validity and integrity of a number of Dangerous Goods driver training bodies and the training material they are using. According to CAIA, some non-accredited training providers are issuing certificates while others are reportedly using outdated training manuals.
The Association advises fleet operators to ensure that only TETA-accredited and NDOT approved training material, based on the 2006 edition of the relevant SANS Codes are utilised for training purposes.
Eddie Crane of EC Logistics, an accredited Dangerous Goods training facility with branches in Durban and Johannesburg, says many problems with non-accredited training providers are often picked up at municipal level when the driver goes to pick up his PrDP. “Drivers have to provide a registration number of the training provider to the licensing authorities. If this does not tally with the NDOT’s list of accredited training providers, they do not get their papers.”
Crane did say that this system is not infallible and the correct procedures are not always followed by the licensing authorities. He reiterates CAIA’s advice that fleet operators should ensure training institutions attended by their drivers are approved and up to date in terms of training materials.
Keith McMurray, one of South Africa’s leading Dangerous Goods transport consultants, suggests operators assess the training material used for driver training whether or not the provider is approved by TETA or accredited by the NDOT as many of the approved providers are offering unacceptable training material.
Further to this, Regulation 280 (2) stipulates:
“Each approved training body shall submit a syllabus for the training of the drivers referred to in sub-regulation (1) to the Shareholders Committee* for approval, and re-submit such syllabus for approval, within 90 days of relevant legislation or SABS specification influencing the training material have been amended.
Regulation 280 (3) is quite specific about what type of training should be provided:
“The syllabus for the training of drivers shall contain at least -
Concern has also been expressed about Regulation 280 (5) which reads as follows: “An operator shall ensure that a driver undergoes theoretical and practical training at an approved training body for the specific class of Dangerous Goods that he or she shall be responsible for and practical training by an accredited body for the specific type of vehicle that he or she shall drive.”
According to Crane, Dangerous Goods driving permits are being issued without the drivers having undergone the specific training referred to in Regulation 280 (5). “Section five is often overlooked leaving many Dangerous Goods drivers with only the generic training under their belts,” he says. Crane says the reason for this is that some training bodies do not have the required sector specific training manuals to carry out the necessary training so it is simply not covered. As the regulation stipulates, it is the responsibility of the operator to ensure this training is provided not the NDOT or the licensing issuing authority.
In addition to a professional driving permit, DG drivers are required to carry a transport emergency card and document known as the Dangerous Goods declaration. The Dangerous Goods declaration must contain details of the consignor, consignee, the operator and the correct name of the product. The operator is also required to inform the emergency services situated along the routes which he will travel, what will be transported and the quantities so that appropriate measures will be taken to deal with an emergency.
On the matter of documents to be held by the driver during the course of his duties, Chapter VIII of the National Road Traffic Act: Transportation of Dangerous Goods and substances by road, stipulates the following:
Regulation 281 (1): The driver of a vehicle referred to in regulation 274(1) shall ensure that such Tremcards and manifests as are required in terms of this Chapter, and which pertain to the Dangerous Goods carried on such vehicle, are held in the designated space in the cab of that vehicle at such time as Dangerous Goods are being transported in such vehicle.
In accordance with SANS 10231 “Transportation of Dangerous Goods Operation” – 2006, all accidents involving Dangerous Goods vehicles must be reported to the NDOT within 30 days.
SANS 10231 describes an incident as an unplanned event during the transport or storage of Dangerous Goods including leakage, spillage, fire or other unplanned occurrence.
Operators are obliged to inform the emergency services and the police if any incident involving their vehicles has taken place. If any injury, fire, explosion or spillage has occurred, the operator must also prepare an incident report in accordance with annex D and submit it to the relevant government department within 30 days.
The fax number for reporting Dangerous Goods incidents at the NDOT is (012) 309 3721. The reporting form as per SANS 10231 Annex D must be used.
Responsible CareIn 1994, The Chemical and Allied Industries Association (CAIA) launched its Responsible Care programme in South Africa to respond to public concerns about the manufacture, storage, transport, use and disposal of chemicals.
A report released by CAIA in May last year states that traffic disruptions due to spillages of hazardous goods on national routes, such as the N3, are due to a complex set of conditions, including large volumes of Dangerous Goods, poor maintenance of infrastructure or vehicles, poor management, packaging, congestion, training, compliance and enforcement issues.
Delays in emergency response services are likewise due to several factors, as identified by an N3 task team and reported in Occupational Risk Management in 2008.
CAIA appeals to transport operators to ensure Dangerous Goods vehicles display the correct placards and include the required documentation in the designated area (designated space), before leaving their premises. Further to this, the CAIA has expressed concern that many operators are taking short cuts with the transportation of Dangerous Goods. The Association lists the following areas that require urgent attention:
Footnote: TruckWatch would like to acknowledge and thank Dangerous Goods specialist, Keith McMurray, the Chemical and Allied Industries Association, and EC Logistics for their valuable input into this article.
*The Shareholders Committee is the NDOT.