Hazmat shippers and transportation companies must invest a great deal of effort and resources into complying with the industry’s pertinent standards. This does not just refer to the regulations established by the federal government in Title 49 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations). They may also have to comply with the standards of state government, local government, OSHA, and all kinds of programs on all levels of government. It is important for companies involved in hazmat transport to comply with all these standards in order to curtail hazmat incidents. However, it can also be costly, which is why some companies have over the course of time are sharing these costs with their clients and customers. Here is some more information on the practice of hazmat fees.
What are Hazmat Fees?
“Hazmat fees” are a charge that customers pay to help a hazmat-related company cover costs related to their compliance with hazmat safety standards. Customers do not pay for the entirety of those costs. The fee is intended to help the company offset those expenses by sharing them with their customers.
One recent example of what may be included in a hazmat charge comes from just this past January. The Portland Press Herald reported that Downeast Energy, a Maine propane provider, had begun including these fees in their customers’ bills. They pay for “a portion of the costs related to” the following:
- Government-mandated compliance processes for the handling of hazardous materials
- Workplace safety
- Emergency preparedness
- Environmental protection
We should note that the hazmat fee is not a tax or fee from the government – not local, nor state, nor federal. The government does not collect or otherwise receive one cent of the hazmat fee. All of it goes to the company for the purpose of investing in employee training and other measures of improving hazmat safety and compliance. Companies can choose whether or not they want to include the cost of hazmat training as a factor in how they bill their clients. Airlines, trucking companies and vessel lines will charge a higher per pound or kilogram rate for the shipment to off set the cost of doing business when handling hazardous or dangerous goods shipments in commerce as well.
Arguments in Support
Charging “hazmat fees” is still a rather new practice, and it has met with some controversy. The Press Herald article, mentioned earlier, reports that some customers have complained about the inclusion of the fee in their bills. They note that the amount of the fee is not necessarily prompting the complaints. Rather, they object to the presence of the fee.
It may help to know why some companies have implemented these fees in the first place: compliance was not always so costly in the past. Superior Energy and other hazmat companies who transport hazmat contend that regulations have significantly increased in recent years, as has enforcement. Compliance is a requirement, but for hazmat companies, that requirement is becoming quite costly.
The hazmat fee does mark an increase in the overall price that customers have to pay. However, that price would have increased regardless. Including a “hazmat fee” in a bill of lading, air way bill or vessel booking confirmation is not just about sharing costs with customers. The practice is about sharing information with customers about what exactly the company will do with that extra money. They assure people that their money is directly contributing to the continuation of practices vital for maintaining safety in a hazardous line of work.
Help Your Employees Receive Hazmat Shipping Training
Among other applications, shipping companies may want to use hazmat fees to help cover hazmat shipping training for their employees. After all, the government requires that anyone working with hazardous materials undergo such training. Hazmat University provides a variety of initial and recurrent programs, such as shipping by ground, shipping by air, and shipping by vessel. Make safety compliance easier and get your employees started with online hazmat training today.