Frequently Asked Questions
by Jim Powell, President, Transportation Development Group (TDG) LLC
- ARE PACKING COMPANIES “CERTIFIED” TO PACK DG CARGO AND SIGN THE DG DECLARATION
Not by the government. The third party packer is authorized by you, as your agent, to perform these functions, but they don’t have any special government authority to do so.
- MY DG PACKER SAYS THEY’RE CERTIFIED
If they know what they’re talking about then what they mean is that they have complied with the DG (HazMat) training rules and they have trained and certified their employees.
- IN THE US, COMPANIES ARE NEVER “CERTIFIED”
Companies (other than Part 121 and 135 licensed air carriers) are not “certified.” They must train their employees who are performing hazmat duties but there’s no special training or certification other than that which the employer chooses to provide.
- WHAT TRAINING DO THEY PROVIDE TO THEIR EMPLOYEES?
There’s nothing other than the US government’s Competency-Based standards of “Function-Specific Training” along with General Awareness, Safety and Security Awareness training. They can make up their own courses and their own quizzes/exams to do this, there’s no preapproval of any training.
- IF I HIRE A DG PACKER AND THEY SCREW UP. AM I LIABLE?
Yes. That’s the short answer. They’re your representative – your agent, you hired them and your name is on the shipping papers as the consignor and they (the packing company) sign the DG declaration in your name, as your agent.
- IS THERE ANY WAY AROUND THIS LIABILITY?
We cannot provide legal advice. However, an educated guess would be that there could be some protection for you if you had the DG packing company put THEIR name as the shipper and certify the shipment, not as your agent but as their own company – leaving your company out of it. We haven’t heard of any packers doing this, but you could check. It still might be problematic, if you’re shipping lithium batteries, those require UN performance tests normally provided by the manufacturer who then sells the product to you, the shipper. If the packing company is going to become “the shipper” and leave you out of it, they’ll have to get the proper data from the battery manufacturer. It’s the same thing with, say, a chemical compound – the packing company doesn’t really want to be liable for the testing of those substances so it seems doubtful they’ll want to issue a DGD in their name, as those kind of things are your (the shipper) responsibility.
- WHAT ARE SOME QUESTIONS I COULD ASK MY PACKER?
• How many hours of training do your employees receive?
• How do you ensure they are competent?
• How often do you assess their competency?
• Have you have been involved in a DG penalty?
• Can you take the legal liability for a DG violation away from me or am I always going to be ultimately responsible as you are my representative, my agent?
• Are you willing to talk to our corporate counsel to explain this liability to them?
• What kind of an agreement/contact do we sign to cover our relationship? Will you reimburse me if I get a penalty for a violation you didn’t catch? Or one you caused?
For more information on this topic and for information on online training and employer certification tools see our programs or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.