Safety Group Offers Guide for Hazmat Safety

Jan. 13, 2005
The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) has published a new brochure, Hazardous Materials Safety Information Guide, which provides key information aimed at educating the public on hazardous materials.

The free brochure offers information about what hazardous materials are, who to call in an emergency and how local emergency planning committees work.

Of the more than 3.1 billion tons of hazardous materials transported throughout the United States in 2000, there were 17,514 hazmat incidents resulting in 13 fatalities, 246 injuries and causing $72,727,595 in damages. Ohio had the most incidents, with Texas second and California third. To provide vital information on hazardous materials to the public in light of an expected increase in the transport of hazardous materials, currently at 800,000 shipments per day, and with the increased threat of terrorism, ASSE developed the Hazardous Materials Safety Information Guide.

Brochure topics include: what hazardous materials are and what hazmat placards mean; training guidelines; how to find your local emergency planning committee; hazmat laws; how occupational safety, health and environmental professionals address this issue; and hazmat emergency response information.

According to a recent U.S. Department of Transportation Commodity Flow Survey, Texas has the highest number of hazardous material shipments in the U.S. Louisiana ranks second in flow followed by California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Ohio, Florida, New Jersey and Michigan.

Should an emergency occur, federal officials say the general public should first call 911 and, if one can identify the size and color of the placards on the transport vehicle without endangering their own safety, to provide that information to the authorities.

As for safety planning, there are State Emergency Response Commissions (SERC) who designate Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) in most communities across the U.S. LEPCs are made up of local emergency service personnel, occupational safety and health professionals, and local officials who work to prevent and plan responses to accidental or deliberate chemical incidents. They are operated through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One can locate their LEPC by checking the EPA Web site at

For round-the-clock reporting of an incident, the U.S. National Response Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is where all chemical, radiological and etiological discharges into the environment are reported by calling (800) 424-8802.

For a copy of the ASSE brochure contact ASSE customer service at 847-699-2929 or e-mail [email protected] and ask for item number G017. The brochure can be downloaded for free off of ASSE's Web site at

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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