Compliance Orders and Civil Penalties for Violating Hazardous Materials Regulations

There are several reasons to follow the laws and regulations covering hazardous materials and their transportation. In previous blog posts, we mentioned that failing to abide by these regulations may result in severe incidents of exposure, leakage, contamination, or dangerous reactions. These emergencies present threats to people’s lives, their health, and the environment. However, there is another reason to follow the rules, one that some may find more plausible and intimidating. As with any set of rules, there are penalties for violating hazardous materials regulations that may result in legal and/or professional consequences. Here is some information on compliance orders and civil penalties.

Compliance Orders for Hazmat Violations

A few things may take place when the Associate Administrator and the Office of Chief Counsel believe that someone may be responsible for violating hazmat regulations. As written in Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 107.307 (49 CFR 107.307), they may send a warning letter, issue a ticket, or initiate the process for imposing a civil penalty. They may also “issue an order directing compliance.”

Either way, they may send a “notice of probable violation,” detailing the alleged violation(s), the facts of the situation, and, for compliance orders, the necessary actions for achieving compliance. The accused may then take one of three actions: “admit the violation,” “make an informal request,” or “request a hearing.”

If the respondent fails to obey a compliance order, or tries to challenge it and fails, the Associate Administrator or the Office of Chief Counsel may enforce the terms of the order. Remember that 49 CFR is a set of federal laws, and violating it or otherwise refusing to comply with it may result in legal prosecution.

Civil Penalties for Violating Hazardous Materials Regulations

A “civil penalty” is the formal term used in 49 CFR to denote a fine. As you can see in Appendix A to Subpart D of Chapter 107, the government may subject people to this penalty for a great many offenses. There are a few overarching categories for these offenses:

  • General requirements (e.g., failing to register as an offeror and pay the registration fee, failing to provide initial or recurrent training to employees)
  • Offeror requirements that apply to all hazardous materials (e.g., offering dangerous goods for transport without shipping papers or required packaging and labeling, providing incorrect emergency response information on a shipping paper)
  • Offeror requirements that apply to specific hazardous materials (e.g., offering unapproved explosives for transport, offering untested lithium batteries for transport)

People found guilty of committing just one of these offenses may have to pay thousands. 49 CFR 107.329 states that the maximum civil penalty for a single violation is $78,376. However, this does not apply to violations that result in “death, serious illness or severe injury to any person or substantial destruction of property.” In these cases, the maximum penalty more than doubles to $182,877.

Receive 49 CFR, IATA DGR, and IMDG Training Today

Naturally, no one wants to face prosecution for violating hazardous materials regulations. Doing so by accident may not give you much protection, either. Ignorance of the rules cannot always excuse endangering other people’s lives through hazmat violations. Anyone involved in the transportation of dangerous goods must understand the relevant regulations for their line of work.

All of the reasons mentioned above are why receiving hazmat employee training is so vital. Hazmat University provides a variety of programs for initial and recurrent training. Whether your position involves shipping by ground, shipping by air, shipping by vessel, or multimodal shipping, we have you covered. Begin your online hazmat training today.