Trucking and Ebola

Nov. 7, 2014
Trucking is the first responders’ first responder. So it is probably no unhappy surprise that Ebola should pop up on your radar screen. But there it is.

Trucking is the first responders’ first responder. So it is probably no surprise that Ebola should pop up on your radar screen. But there it is.

In response to the ongoing, international spread of the Ebola virus, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recently published a Safety Advisory in the Federal Register for persons and businesses that prepare, offer, and transport materials that are or may be contaminated with Ebola.

The US DOT regulates materials that are or may be contaminated with the Ebola virus as Class A infectious substances in its Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR 171-180). This classification does not apply to Ebola-contaminated waste that has been appropriately incinerated, autoclaved, or otherwise inactivated.

The new guidance document covers procedures for handling, shipping, and transporting Ebola-infected waste, including: 

  • Selecting proper packaging;
  • Treating Ebola-contaminated waste before transport;
  • Closing the container to prevent tears, leaks, or other damage in transit; and
  • Operational controls for medical facilities and transporters.

PHMSA recognizes that shipping or transporting large volumes of Ebola contaminated waste may require variance from the hazmat regulations. PHMSA issued a non-site-specific special permit to allow for alternative packaging in these cases. Shippers and waste haulers can apply for party status to the special permit, DOT SP-16279, in accordance with 49 CFR 107.107. To request a unique special permit, shippers and waste haulers should follow the rules at 49 CFR 107, Subpart B.

To help employees protect themselves and colleagues from infection, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has published guidance on handling Ebola-contaminated materials before transport.

Under the HMR, any employee who prepares Category A infectious substances for transport must be trained appropriately. For fast, convenient training on the US DOT regulations for shipping Ebola-contaminated material, Lion offers the Shipping Infectious Substances Online Course. It is designed to provide general awareness, security awareness, and function-specific training for hazmat employees who prepare shipments of Ebola-contaminated material and other Category A and B infectious substances. Hazmat employee training is required once every three years. [49 CFR 172.704]

About the Author

Wendy Leavitt

Wendy Leavitt joined Fleet Owner in 1998 after serving as editor-in-chief of Trucking Technology magazine for four years.

She began her career in the trucking industry at Kenworth Truck Company in Kirkland, WA where she spent 16 years—the first five years as safety and compliance manager in the engineering department and more than a decade as the company’s manager of advertising and public relations. She has also worked as a book editor, guided authors through the self-publishing process and operated her own marketing and public relations business.

Wendy has a Masters Degree in English and Art History from Western Washington University, where, as a graduate student, she also taught writing.  

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