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U.S. Department of Transportation
Hazardous Materials Training Requirements for

Importers and Customs Brokers

Are importers liable for their foreign suppliers?

An Executive Briefing

  Many importers and brokers do not realize how the regulations apply to them.
Since importers are not shipping or “offering” dangerous goods, how can they be held liable?
U.S. Law requires importers to inform their foreign suppliers of the applicable DG regulations
49 CFR, Sec 171.12(a) Importer's responsibility. ...each person import-ing a hazardous material into the United States shall provide the shipper and the forwarding agent at the place of entry into the United States timely and complete information as to the requirements of this subchapter that will apply to the shipment of the material within the United States....
This means that U.S. Law requires importers to inform their foreign suppliers of the applicable DG regulations, including all the requirements for identification, classification, packing, marking, labeling and documentation for the shipment.
The baseline penalty for failing to inform the foreign shipper and forwarder is $7,200.00
Also, when the importer starts giving out instructions regarding the hazardous materials regulations, they need to ensure that they are properly trained.
Who has to be trained? What about brokers?
Any person who directly effects the safety of a haz-ardous material in transportation is classified as a "hazardous materials employee."
Customs brokers are considered “hazmat” em-ployers if they transport or “offer for transport” any hazardous material.
The word “offering” means arranging for the trans-portation and presenting materials to a carrier for transport, by any mode, domestic or international. It is not just a matter of turning over docu-ments. Quite often, additional U.S. government docu-mentation requirements must be met before the shipment is picked up from the importing car-rier.
Customs Brokers must understand the U.S. D.O.T. requirements and variations to the international rules, or they (the broker) could be held liable for “offering” an unacceptable shipment for transport in the U.S. Under 49-CFR it says the following:
171.2(a) No person may offer or accept a hazardous material for transportation in commerce unless that person complies with subpart G of part 107 of this chapter, and the hazardous material is properly classed, described, packaged, marked, labeled, and in condition for shipment as required or author-ized....
A customs brokers job is to provide assistance to the importer in complying with applicable regulations. This should include hazardous materials regulations as well.
All hazmat employers MUST train and TEST every haz-ardous materials employee within 90 days on the job. Recurrent training is required every three years and may be required sooner.
Penalties can reach $27,500 dollars per day, per violation and are issued by the Coast Guard, FAA, FHWA, FRA, and RSPA agencies of the D.O.T. Quite often agencies cooperate in joint enforcement actions such as “operation hazstrike”.
Jim Powell is President of Transportation Development Group, a Dangerous Goods and Logistics Consulting company. He can be reached at (800) 949-4834 or (310) 302-0808, FAX (310) 302-0809. On the internet, their website is:

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