Volume 6, Number 2
A Gossman Consulting, Inc. Publication
August 2001

DOT Regulation Tech Notes


Jim Woodford

Once again, your sampling and laboratory analysis has allowed you to get that truck down to the unloading pad in less than an hour from when he arrived on site.  You’ve even given the go ahead to hook up the truck and start unloading. Your process operators are on top of things and things are running smoothly.  But the question may be, what are the responsibilities of the truck driver now that your pumps have started the truck unloading process?  According to DOT, the carrier and by extension, that driver is responsible for that load/tanker/cargo from beginning to end.


49CFR Part 177 - Carriage by Public Highway; Subpart B - Loading and Unloading; 177.834(h)(i)(2) states that: "a motor carrier who transports hazardous material by a cargo tank must ensure that the cargo tank is attended by a qualified person at all times during unloading" – then 177.834(h)(i)(3) goes on to state/clarify that "a qualified person 'attends' the loading or unloading of a cargo tank if, throughout the process, he is alert and is within (25 feet) of the cargo tank.   The qualified person attending the unloading of a cargo tank must have an unobstructed view of the cargo tank and delivery hose to the maximum extent practicable during the unloading operation."  This largely precludes the driver staying in the truck during offloading.


Of course this makes you logically ask the question, what is a qualified person?  The term qualified is defined in 177.834(h)(i)(4) – where a qualified person is someone who has "been made aware of the nature of the hazardous material which is to be loaded or unloaded" and has "been instructed on the procedures to be followed in emergencies" and here is the key point, "he is authorized to move the cargo tank, and he has the means to do so."  Since most process operators are not licensed truck drivers, this generally means that the truck driver has continued responsibilities throughout the unloading process.


All of this might make one ask, does this apply to me or does somehow RCRA trump the DOT requirements.  Anyone who has watched a DOT (usually several DOT representatives) follow a truck right up to delivery of the material and then wait around until they leave can be pretty certain that the DOT rules apply.  In addition, 40CFR 177.800(b) states that "unless this subchapter specifically provides that another person shall perform a particular duty, each carrier, including a connecting carrier, shall perform the duties specified and comply with all applicable requirements in this part..." which certainly seems to confirm the carrier/driver responsibility.  It may be that a DOT inspector will never come on your site and discover a driver not fulfilling duties.  Let’s face it, it’s a variation of the tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it, did it make a sound?  The corollary being if a DOT violation occurs and there is no DOT inspector there to see it, does it really matter? The bottom line is safety and having emergencies covered.  This is the critical issue!  Just keep in mind that there are regulations that address driver responsibilities when that truck is on your site.