"Regulatory guillotine" hit safety

We are the only educational institution on the territory of the Russian Federation where training of advisers on dangerous goods is conducted.
10 October 2022

The "regulatory guillotine" is a tool for a large-scale revision and cancellation of regulatory legal acts that negatively affect the overall business climate and the regulatory environment in Russia. This state initiative began with the abolition of 30,002 regulations on January 1, 2021.

Unfortunately, this "guillotine" hit indiscriminately on many aspects, including those that directly affect safety, but in no way have a negative impact on business. In this case, we are talking about training of personnel in the framework of the implementation of mandatory licensing requirements for maritime and inland water transport.Decrees of the Government of the Russian Federation № 1243 dated July 21, 2021 "On licensing of activities for transportation of dangerous goods by inland water transport, sea transport and maritime towage activities” and № 2111 dated November 30, 2021 "On licensing of handling activities in relation to dangerous goods in inland water transport and in seaports" have eliminated the need for specialized training of personnel in the field of dangerous goods for license applicants and provide for just rank-and-file employees for handling dangerous goods in their staff. Meanwhile, all international conventions and agreements, most of which have been ratified by the Russian Federation, require the mandatory training of such specialists, and not just one or two persons, but all those who directly work with dangerous goods. And there is a reason for that, because most of the tragedies and accidents with dangerous goods occur due to the fault of personnel who work with dangerous goods, but do not have enough knowledge and have not undergone enough training.

The most tragic and illustrative example of this was the events in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020. According to experts, due to the negligent attitude of the port staff to the performance of their duties and their ignorance of the dangerous properties of ammonium nitrate, 210 people died and about 6 thousand people were injured, buildings in the city were seriously damaged, about 300 thousand residents were left homeless. It is unlikely that this would have happened if the person responsible for storing this high-risk cargo in the warehouse had received appropriate training and was properly responsible for the storage of dangerous goods.

Millions of people are involved in the transport, handling and storage of dangerous goods, including shippers, carriers and consignees. At each stage of transportation and for each mode of transport, the transport, handling and storage of dangerous goods is regulated by international and national legal documents. Having a license to carry out certain types of activities, including handling activities, by no means guarantees safe work with dangerous goods, since licensing is, in fact, an act of registration of a legal entity engaged in such activities, which in no way relieves officials of responsibility for possible consequences.

The majority of sane experts and specialists in the field of transportation of dangerous goods, as well as the administrative bodies that control transportation of dangerous goods, were sure that the new Government Decree would strengthen the requirements for training of personnel not only in relation to management, but also to all personnel, however, for some unknown reason, the mandatory requirement for staff training was eliminated. At the same time, the Decree introduced such a concept as risk management, and this is correct, since risks need to be managed and the possibility of consequences of certain events should be assessed. But is it possible to reduce the risk without the mandatory training of specialists and workers whose activities are related to dangerous goods?

The attention should also be drawn to the fact that certain regulatory legal acts on transport contain requirements that are either almost impossible to fulfill or do not affect safety in any way, and the "guillotine" was not applied to these requirements. Moreover, certain legal acts of the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, regulating the activities of maritime and inland water transport, oblige enterprises and organizations to certify the quality management system in their subordinate bodies, although the quality management system has nothing to do with safety issues, and sometimes such certification is just obtaining a useless "piece of paper with a golden border", stamped with a seal with monograms, which is just a sham, but even small organizations pay a lot of money for such shams and thus simply do not have enough funds for professional training of personnel.

Indeed, the "guillotine" applied to some legal acts brought benefits in some cases, but its idea serves no purpose when business is obliged to implement a system that is far from safety issues and creates additional costs.

One of the main activities of the International Dangerous Goods and Containers Association, which has a consultative status in the Subcommittee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods of the UN ECOSOC, is the harmonization of international rules with national ones, as well as the training and certification of personnel in the field of safety. At the same time, training carried out is never of pro-forma nature, and only those who have passed the exam and passed the certification can receive the Association's certificate.

For more than twenty years, the International Dangerous Goods and Containers Association has been certifying dangerous goods transport safety advisers and maintaining their registry. Training of specialists is carried out on the basis of a licensed International Staff Training Center. Having a competent adviser on safe transportation of dangerous goods in the company allows the manager to make the right decisions, and this practice exists all over the world.