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DOT Publishes Answers to FAQ Regarding COVID-19 Guidance

On May 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding its COVID-19 guidance on the PHMSA website. [1] The FAQ address PHMSA guidance on the transportation of hand sanitizers [2] and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as shipping paper requirements. [3]

With respect to hand sanitizers, PHMSA emphasizes that its temporary policy providing enforcement discretion only applies to products that are prepared in accordance with the specified FDA guidance document and pursuant to the April 10 PHMSA notice. [4] Shippers may not simply rely upon the policy to cover all ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol sanitizer products. 

For shipments of PPE that are known or reasonably expected to be contaminated with an infectious substance, PHMSA clarifies that 49 CFR 173.134(b)(12)(i) is the applicable regulation when such PPE is being shipped for cleaning or refurbishment. These regulations are distinguishable from 49 CFR 173.134(c), which applies to contaminated PPE being shipped for disposal. Additionally, PHMSA notes that placarding requirements (49 CFR 172.504) are not applicable to the shipment of contaminated PPE (though certain marking requirements apply).

PHMSA also stresses that its April 10 guidance regarding shipping papers and social distancing does not provide any relief from regulatory requirements or enforcement. The guidance only highlights flexibility provided under the DOT regulations. For transportation by highway, a hard copy shipping paper must accompany the shipment; an electronic shipping paper by itself is insufficient to meet 49 CFR 177.817(e). 

[1]  https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/news/covid-19-frequently-asked-questions
[2] https://www.khlaw.com/DOT-Issues-Notice-of-Enforcement-Discretion-Regarding-the-Transportation-of-Hand-Sanitizers-to-Address-COVID-19
[3] https://www.natlawreview.com/article/dot-issues-guidance-hazmat-shipping-papers-and-social-distancing
[4] https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/sites/phmsa.dot.gov/files/2020-04/PHMSA%20Revised%20Hand%20Sanitizer%20Notice.pdf

© 2021 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 126
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About this Author

Trent Doyle Environmental Compliance Attorney Keller Heckman Law Firm
Partner

Trent M. Doyle advises clients on all types of environmental matters, including compliance with U.S. and international chemical control laws, transportation of dangerous goods regulations, hazardous materials regulations, and community right-to-know laws. He also has special expertise in environmental permitting.

Mr. Doyle counsels clients on a wide spectrum of environmental and transportation matters, including those pertaining to chemical control, facility permitting (e.g., Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act), hazardous materials shipping...

202-434-4161
Taylor D. Johnson ASSOCIATE Keller Heckman California's Proposition 65 Chemical Control Environmental Litigation Transportation Workplace Safety and Health
Associate

Taylor Johnson is an environmental lawyer specializing in the area of environmental regulation of products, including chemical control, pesticides, energy efficiency regulation, and importantly, domestic and international transportation of hazardous materials. Mr. Johnson also advises clients on community-right-to-know laws, Proposition 65, occupational safety and health matters, and supports a wide variety of commercial tort and other litigation issues.

Mr. Johnson has special expertise in the area of hazardous materials transport, including enforcement defense and compliance...

202-434-4255
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