Federal law concerning compliance orders and civil penalties are subject to change, and the bodies that enforce them frequently and regularly amend them. This means that even the regulations describing the punishments for violations can change if the authorities find it necessary. Recently, The Federal Register reported that such changes will soon be implemented. The government will soon amend the laws regarding civil penalties, and hazmat employees should be aware of the changes. Here is some information on civil penalties amendments for 2019.
Adjusting Civil Penalties for Inflation
To understand the changes coming in the future, we must first understand why they are happening. A few years ago, Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. To describe it simply, this law requires agencies to raise or lower the dollar amounts for penalties based on inflation. If an agency does not take inflation into account, penalties may not have as much power as in the past.
As this fact sheet from the Department of Labor explains, the act exists because of a previous lack of comprehensive rules for adjustments. Congress passed a different law with the same intent in 1990, but serious inconsistencies damaged its effectiveness. The government first enforced this law in 2016, and as the new year rolls around, they will enforce it again. In a matter of weeks, the hazmat laws in Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR) will differ from what you know.
How Civil Penalties Amendments Affect HazmatEmployees
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is one agency that must follow the Improvements Act. According to the announcement from The Federal Register, they will apply changes across a number of their subgroups. One of them is the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), meaning that hazmat employeess must learn about the new penalties.
The changes to civil penalties amendments are widespread. Besides PHMSA, they will also be implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Maritime Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and others. However, they will not be drastic. Inflation does not dramatically change monetary value in most years.
With that said, hazmat employees should be more careful than before. Even if the overall value is the same as years past, the dollar amount charged in civil penalties can still be punishing. If this is the case, then the system is working as intended.
Stay Updated with Recurrent Hazmat Training
Hazmat employees have a responsibility to stay up-to-date on any changes in federal and international hazmat laws. Subscribing to publications like The Federal Register is an excellent way for them to receive regular updates. However, even frequent readers need to undergo recurrent training, as required by 49 CFR and international organizations.
Hazmat University provides both recurrent and initial training for shipping by ground, shipping by air, shipping by vessel, or multimodal shipping. These programs and our other offerings are completely online and always amended to reflect any and all changes. Sign up today so you can start your training immediately.