Hazmat System (and Training) for “No-Hazmat” Distributors

Some of the companies accredited to the ASA-100 standard have struggled with the AC 00-56B requirement for a hazmat system because they have a “no-hazmat” policy (as a matter of company policy, they neither ship nor receive hazmat). This article addresses how to build a hazmat system that complies with the AC 00-56B requirement, while also meeting the limited needs of the “no-hazmat” company.

The FAA published its “Voluntary Industry Distributor Accreditation Program” in FAA AC 00-56B.  The accreditation program requires that accredited distributors have “[a] system for hazmat control and transport that meets Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR) requirements.” This is listed as one of the required quality system elements described in the advisory circular.

Each of the required quality system elements described in the advisory circular must be adequately addressed in the accredited distributor’s quality manual. This means that the accredited distributor’s hazmat control and transport “system” must be described in the quality manual. ASA has implemented this requirement in its own quality standard, ASA-100, and the implementation can be found in sections 1(E)(16) and 15.

If an accredited distributor knows that it does not ship hazmat, then it still has an obligation to meet the requirements for the hazmat control and transport system (including a “system” in the manual).

Even if the accredited distributor does not ship hazmat, there is still a risk of hazmat getting into the business’ system. In the 1990s, the FAA published Handbook Bulletins that explained that certificate holders, like repair stations, could reasonably receive unintended hazmats, based on industry shipping norms. This was later the rationale for requiring that repair stations must provide hazmat training to their personnel (14 C.F.R. 145.53(c)) and that accredited distributors must have hazmat transport and control systems under AC 00-56B.  On a more personal note, I have received many calls and emails, over the years, from ASA members and accredittees who’ve adopted “no-hazmat” policies and then received an unwanted hazmat.  This is a problem that really does occur.

ASA has taken the position that a minimum system must include appropriate training.  ASA also requires the system to be published in the quality manual.  For an accredited distributor that plans to adopt a “no-hazmat” policy, I recommend that the manual include:

  • A statement of the company policy of not receiving and/or shipping hazardous material;
  • Requirements concerning hazardous materials recognition training (to support the company policy); and
  • A process for addressing inadvertently received (or otherwise discovered) hazardous materials.

Of course, the distributor’s record-keeping program should include records of the hazardous materials recognition training.  But what about the details of that training?

When a company knows that it does not ship hazardous materials, then I feel that the training should be focused on preventing such shipments (and preventing such items from entering the system to mitigate the danger of them being pulled from stock for shipment). This means training appropriate personnel in (1) how to recognize hazardous materials, (2) the company policy of not shipping hazardous materials, and (3) what to do if hazardous materials are inadvertently received into, or discovered in, the system.

ASA has provided hazmat recognition training to the ASA community on several occasions. Most recently, we provided a live, online webinar addressing hazmat recognition in an aircraft parts environment (on April 14, 2020). That webinar was recorded and the recording is available to ASA members who need to provide training to their personnel.

When a company maintains a “no-hazmat” policy,” I have recommended that at least five classifications of personnel should receive hazmat identification training:

(1) Quality Personnel who are responsible for drafting, publishing, auditing, and managing the procedures associated with the hazmat system;
(2) Purchasing Personnel, so they will be aware of company limits and forbear from purchasing articles that would contravene those limits;
(3) Sales Personnel, so they will be aware of company limits and forbear from selling articles that would contravene those limits;
(4) Receiving Personnel, so they can recognize hazmats if they are inadvertently received, quarantine them pending appropriate disposition, and notify appropriate decision-makers within the company;
(5) Shipping Personnel, so they can recognize hazmats and forbear from shipping them in violation of company policy and/or regulatory limits.

By training these five classifications of personnel, you help to ensure that the company’s “no-hazmat” policy can be successful.

About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. Since 1992, he has represented aviation trade associations and businesses that include aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturers, distributors, and repair stations, as well as both commercial and private operators. Blog content published by Mr. Dickstein is not legal advice; and may not reflect all possible fact patterns. Readers should exercise care when applying information from blog articles to their own fact patterns.

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