If you use fuels like propane for your home or business, you may have noticed a hazmat charge on the bills for delivery or service calls. Have you ever wondered why?
The hazmat charge exists to help make our services safer and extend protections to our employees and customers. Below, we’ll explain exactly what that means.
WHAT DOES HAZMAT STAND FOR?
Hazmat stands for “hazardous materials.”
Hazardous materials are those that could present risks to human health or the environment. Historically, hazmat spills have caused health issues, injuries and death in both humans and animals. They have also damaged homes and properties and contaminated local environments. In 2019, more than 21,000 hazardous materials incidents caused 174 injuries and seven fatalities across the country and led to thousands of dollars in property damage.
Despite their dangers, hazardous materials regularly enter the environment. They may spill into the environment after an accident. Or a natural disaster may cause damage that allows hazmats to leak. Spills and leaks wreak health and environmental havoc, and they can lead to economic disasters as they disrupt land and marine transportation.
WHAT MATERIALS ARE CLASSIFIED AS HAZARDOUS?
Hazardous materials can take solid, liquid or gaseous forms. They may include substances like these:
- Chemical weapons
- Certain fuels
- Medical waste
- Nuclear waste
- Radiological weapons
- Toxic chemicals
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) classifies hazardous materials into nine separate categories:
- Explosives: This category includes different types of explosives, including those with a mass explosion hazard, those with a projection hazard, and those with a fire hazard and blast hazard.
- Gases: This category includes different types of gases, including flammable gases, toxic gases and nonflammable and nontoxic gases. Propane falls into this category.
- Flammable liquids: This category includes both flammable liquids and combustible liquids.
- Flammable solids: This category includes flammable solids, substances that may spontaneously combust, and substances that emit flammable gases when they come into contact with water.
- Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides: Oxidizers give off oxygen during chemical reactions, so they enhance combustion. Organic peroxides are organic compounds that contain oxygen in an -O-O- structure or have hydrogen replaced with organic radicals.
- Toxic and infectious substances: In this category, toxic substances are those that could cause serious illness, injury or death if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin. Infectious substances contain microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi.
- Radioactive materials: Radioactive materials are those that emit radiation. Some substances with higher radiation levels cannot be loaded together in the same vehicle or stored together during transportation.
- Corrosive substances: Substances in this category could destroy the entire thickness of human skin at the site of contact over a specified time. Substances that cause extensive corrosion to steel or aluminum also fall into this category.
- Miscellaneous: The miscellaneous category covers other hazardous materials that do not fit into one of the categories listed above. Anesthetics, noxious gases, marine waste and some high-temperature materials fall into this category.
Hazardous materials are common in everyday use — as fuels, in paints and solvents, in common chemicals. The thousands of hazmat spills that occur every year usually require the intervention of first responders, like firefighters and police officers, because of the dangers they pose.
WHAT ARE THE REGULATIONS SURROUNDING HAZARDOUS MATERIALS?
Because hazardous materials have the potential to do such grievous harms, the government regulates their creation, transportation, storage, use and disposal. These regulations exist to help ensure public safety. The DOT has the authority to regulate hazardous materials through the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA).
Federal regulations require that hazardous materials be defined, labeled, marked and prepared for transportation and storage according to stringent standards. Companies that fall out of compliance with these regulations will be subject to fines of up to $500,000.
Under the law, companies that carry hazardous materials have responsibilities like these:
- Creating proper shipping papers
- Applying vehicle placards and markings
- Loading and unloading safely
- Ensuring material compatibility
- Blocking and bracing
- Reporting incidents
- Developing security plans
- Training employees
Hazardous materials training requirements generally break down into the following areas of instruction:
- General awareness: All employees must have general awareness training, which includes basic knowledge about hazardous materials and the reasoning behind hazard communications.
- Function-specific training: Function-specific training teaches the skills and information required for specific job duties.
- Safety training: Safety training boosts employee knowledge about the dangers of working with hazardous materials and the personal protection needed to perform that work safely.
- Security training: Security training instructs employees about the security risks of working with hazardous materials and provides information about how to ensure security in the workplace.
- Modal-specific requirements: Modal-specific requirements are instruction requirements for different modes of transportation, such as by highway, by air or by rail.
Companies may choose their training methods — classroom instruction, conference meetings, videos or self-directed learning. But they are expected to keep detailed records of all training given.
WHY DOES FOSTER FUELS CHARGE A HAZMAT CHARGE, AND WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
We charge the hazmat charge for propane deliveries and service calls to help ourselves attain the necessary accountability standards for hazmat compliance.
Hazardous materials pose significant challenges for handling and disposal. As a handler of hazardous materials, Foster Fuels is accountable for complying with regulations. We particularly emphasize emergency preparedness, homeland security and workplace training.
Workplace training is particularly critical because it helps us ensure the safety of our employees and our customers. It gives our staff members the tools they need to handle and dispose of propane properly. The hazmat charge offsets instruction in these areas:
- Cylinder requalification
- Environmental compliance
- Inspections safety
This training helps ensure that we provide high-quality, safe and responsible service to our customers. The hazmat charge offsets our hazmat training and compliance costs and helps us provide superior service by putting our customers’ safety first.
It’s important to note that even though we charge a hazmat charge, the propane used for fuel in your home is stable. Especially when handled by trained professionals, propane is incredibly safe and reliable. Take a look at some of our propane safety tips to see how you can use propane safely in your home or business.
CONTACT FOSTER FUELS FOR RELIABLE HOME FUELING
When you need safe, quality fuel for your residence or business, partner with Foster Fuels. We provide propane, kerosene, heating oil, gas, diesel, biodiesel and even jet fuel to help keep homes and industries running strong. Our residential fuel services and commercial fuel services are dependable and affordable, and our autofill services give you the option of extra convenience. Our friendly, experienced and knowledgeable staff are also happy to work with you for the fuel solutions you need.
Contact us today to learn more.