The Hazardous Materials Safety Permit HMSP Program is a program put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration after Congress passed a law required the FMCSA to start a permit program. This program was designed to increase the safety of truck drivers as well as the general public. It is estimated that the rule put in place by the FMCSA will prevent at least seven crashes involving certain hazardous materials each year, which will save more than $3.5 million dollars annually. The rule also increases security in regards to hazardous materials, which reduces the likelihood of the materials being used by terrorists.
Carriers should note that Anhydrous ammonia is covered under the permit program even though it is considered a non-flammable gas in the United States. It meets the requirements of a material that is toxic when inhaled, so any carrier who transports 3,500 gallons or more of anhydrous ammonia is required to have obtained a hazardous materials safety permit.
Another important note is that shipments of propane are not included in the hazardous materials safety permit program because they don’t contain 85 percent or more methane. Therefore companies who haul propane are not required to obtain a safety permit from the FMCSA.
Permit Requirements for Carriers
In order to obtain or keep a permit under the Hazardous Materials Safety Permit HMSP Program, carriers are required to maintain at least a satisfactory safety rating with the FMCSA. The carrier, driver and vehicle must be above the lowest 30 percent of carriers in the nation as far as their rating in the Motor Carrier Management Information System is concerned. The carrier is also required to have a security program and security training in place that is considered satisfactory by the FMCSA. They must also maintain valid registration with the PHMSA and develop a communication system that requires the driver to contact the carrier throughout the load transportation process. Records of these communications must be maintained.
A written route plan is required for explosives and radioactive materials. Processes for suspending and revoking safety permits will be in place, as well as a process for the issuing of temporary permits and an appeals process for carriers who have had their safety permit suspended or revoked.
The Application Process
A carrier who is required to have a hazardous materials safety permit from the FMCSA to haul loads can begin the process by filing the MCS-150B form. Carriers that don’t already have a DOT number will be given one after they have submitted this form. The form can be downloaded from the FMCSA website at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration-licensing/print-forms/print-forms.htm. or the application can be filled out and submitted online at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration-licensing/online-registration/onlineregdescription.htm.