Commercial vehicle operators work long hours and provide an invaluable service in transporting our goods across the country. Some truckers haul more dangerous materials than others, receiving a hazardous designation from the department of transportation. These individuals are beholden to stricter rules, including emergency equipment requirements. So just what is required of truckers transporting dangerous materials? Houston truck accident attorney Brian White explains:
Who Regulates Trucking Operations?
In general, rules regarding trucking are set forth by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA determines safety measures like caps on hours, break requirements, weight restrictions, and more. In the Shippers General Requirements, Packaging and Exceptions rules, these organizations state that any truck that requires labelling for hazardous material must comply with certain fire extinguisher regulations. Those who fail to adhere to these standards may be subject to criminal penalties.
What Makes a Hazardous Material Designation?
Hazardous material transport laws have evolved significantly over the past decade. In response to the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, commercial vehicle operators require a special permit to transport:
- Any material considered radioactive
- More than 55 lbs. of explosive material
- Material deemed hazardous by inhalation
- Liquefied natural gas or methane
Truckers who transport any of these materials must follow strict standards for fire extinguishers to ensure their own safety and the safety of others on the road.
What Kind of Fire Extinguisher Do I Need?
Your type of fire extinguisher will depend on the kind of goods hauled. Truckers who transport hazardous material, for instance, must carry a fire extinguisher that contains material that is non-corrosive and nonpoisonous. Extinguishers that are pressurized at more than 1,660 kPa (kilopascals, a unit of measure for pressurized materials) require labeling. Those less than 1,660 kPa must still be tested to make sure they are operational, and that test date must be clearly labeled. In addition, all fire extinguishers must contain agents that do not require freeze protection.
If you are transporting hazardous material, your fire extinguisher must have an Underwriter Laboratories rating of at least 10. Truckers who do not transport hazardous material also are required to have a fire extinguisher on hand, though they can be smaller with an Underwriter Laboratories rating of 5.
Where Does My Fire Extinguisher Need to Be?
Your fire extinguisher is required to be clearly labeled with the Underwriter’s Laboratories rating, and it must be easily accessible. Though there is no mandated location for your extinguishers, they must be securely mounted to avoid jostling during transport.
The Cost of Noncompliance
Failing to adhere to the letter of the law carries strict penalties. Fines can run up to thousands of dollars. If your noncompliance leads to injury, you may even face criminal charges. If the FMCSA finds that you do not have a fire extinguisher in your vehicle, it may delay your shipment until it finishes conducting a thorough investigation for other offenses. All of this time equals missed work hours and possible employer repercussions.
Personal Injury Claims and Truck Accidents
If you have been injured as the result of a trucking accident, you may be entitled to compensation. If truckers do not adhere to regulations that could have prevented your injury, they are guilty of negligence.
Burns are traumatizing, both emotionally and physically. Your recuperation will be long and require rehabilitation after your hospital stay. Medical bills, rehab fees, and lost wages from missed work all take their toll. The truck accident lawyers at Brian White and Associates offer a free case evaluation to get you started. To schedule yours, contact us today. A member of our team will advise you of your next best steps and the road ahead.