I guess this is more for the FAK haulers but I was wondering how often it happens that a shipper tries to sneak HAZMAT on a load with out telling any one. Its happed to me 2 times and every one I have talked too says it has never happened to them.
The first was a load I was pulling out of the SCG yard south of Columbus back when they contracted out most of there freight. I was sealing the trailer up and saw a blue barrel just thrown in with radioactive placard stickers on it. It wasn't on the bills so I explained that if something happens I'm screwed. I have my HAZMAT endorsement but choose not to pull radioactive or explosive and my company backs me. When I complained some guy went out and scrapped the stickers off with a knife and told me to go. Instead I backed up to the dock and made them off load and show me everything.
The other time was a pre-sealed load of Bridgford charcoal that when I delivered I found 11 palets of lighter fluid inside that wasn't on the bills but the final was expecting it.
How common is this sort of thing. With more and more shippers pre-loading trailers to make these 90% drop and hook companies happy and/or not allowing you on their dock how are we to be responsible when DOT decides to take a look inside? Or am I really just un-lucky and this isn't that common at all.
Shippers not reporting HAZMAT on bills?
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How common it is, I couldn't tell you. But one thing's for sure, Hazmat is nothing to goof around with. I drove for an LTL co, and we hauled fireworks into MI (so trlrs were placarded explosive), and it's scary just the kind of crap you see happening with those loads. For example:
1) With any explosive load, the shipper is supposed to provide you (the driver) with not just placards, but a written route plan as well. Of course, i never got any route plan.
2)Going from Indy to Romulus,MI, if you run US24, there is an active railroad crossing. I would so my proper stop (as would many other drivers) however, there were bunches that would just fly right over the tracks without a second thought.
I realize these thoughts are off the topic, so let me get back on track...
Now that you know some of the games the shippers play, you can of course be prepared and inspect the load if you need to. I love that shipper ripping the Radioactive placard off and saying 'it's OK!' What a turd.
Most shippers I dealt with that I did sealed trlr P/U's were thankfully honest (and i drove for a TL carrier, so we tended to P/u trlrs that were loaded with less varied freight).
I had one of those yesterday. An approx. 300 lb shipment from Lenexa, KS to deliver, which included a 12 lb box with flammable labels all over it, and nothing on the bill indicating haz-mat. Our safety dep't heard about that one when I got back in, which is pretty much all you can do at that point.
As for accepting loads, that is another issue. The driver making the pickup is responsible for the information being correct, especially with hazardous materials shipments. If anything at all is wrong with a hazardous materials shipment, you do not accept it. Period. Everything has to be just so down to the order the information is printed on the bill.
Bottom Line seems like we are ALWAYS responsible, even when it's not our fault. I personally have no problem with breaking a seal to inspect a load, if I suspect there could be some HM on it. Of course, I would have to tell the shipper first, so they could reseal/re inspect the load, and deal with the backlash of BS from them, but I 'm not going to hang my neck out there to have it cut off by some unscrupulous shipper.
I work for a company that mostly hauls auto parts. And a couple time they've snuck haz. into a pallet and wrapped it up, or they don't mark it on the paper work.
By law you have the right to inspect your load and refuse anything you deem unsafe for transit. Even if it's a place that won't let you load your truck or assist in loading it. And the wharehouse and your employer can't do a thing about it, except fire you. Then you sue them.
Believe me, I've refused a few of our clients freight for inproper paper work, packaging, etc.
D.O.T don't care if they snuck it on your truck, your the one hauling it, and the one that should know what's on that truck.
Just 2 tiny cents here from someone who's worked hundreds of trailers (this is for Fedex Ground, I can't speak about others.)
There are two big problems among probably many more:
1) It's ridiculously easy for any ill-intentioned person to hide a hazmat package. Why? Well for starters apparently the law doesn't say those have to be labeled on ALL sides. Believe me, if a Package Handler can miss those (and it happens a lot, simply because when you grab a package you don't see all 6 sides... especially when you're supposed to unload your 1,050 boxes per hour...) then hiding one in the middle or the front of the trailer is child's play.
2) There's absolutely NO practical way a driver can know/see everything that's loaded on his/her trailer. At Fedex it's not unusual to find those all over the flaps, in the bellies, etc. I find it grossly unfair that DOT would consider the driver responsible for that.
And this is for what you'd call "low grade" hazmats. I shudder to think what happens with the "real deal" and as far as I'm concerned, any individual who scrapes off HM labels on those should go straight to jail.
But you're definitely correct, if the package handlers don't do a good job, you could have small packages of hazmat all over your trlrs and not know what any of it is.
Wallbanger I can assure you that in the working conditions that Fedex Ground has where I work, you're lucky if you catch ONE of those HM stickers. But we do agree on the core issue.
BTW that company has got to be one the stingiest around. They have set up a business model that pretty much circumvents all the labor laws that most other businesses adhere to.
I wonder if Fedex Freight is the same.
Anyway, the core problem is that the Feds don't require hazmat stickers on all sides. That would cost less than a buck per package. And they spend tens of billions of our tax money doing really stupid, unproductive stuff at DHS. It really boggles the mind, doesn't it?
If the shipment is less than 1,001 lbs., in most instances, it is considered "non reportable" and requires no placards. Therefore, many shippers and carriers don't even consider the shipment to be "hazmat", and treat it like general freight. Not correct thinking, but convenient.
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