Sounds like a simple question and you would expect a simple answer, doesn’t it? Yet, the reality is that many employees and employers alike don’t know the answer. Or worse, because they cannot readily find the answer, they assume they don’t need it. Unfortunately, in many cases they are required by DOT to have training.
Let’s review a few definitions and requirements.
Question: what defines a “hazmat employee”?
Answer: a hazmat employee is a person who is employed by a hazmat employer and who in the course of employment directly affects hazardous materials transportation safety. This term includes an individual, including a self-employed individual, employed by a hazmat employer who, in the course of employment: (1) Loads, unloads, or handles hazardous materials; (2) Manufactures, tests, reconditions, or repairs, modifies, marks, or otherwise represents containers, drums, or packages as qualified for use in the transportation of hazardous materials; (3) Prepares hazardous materials for transportation; (4) Is responsible for safety of transporting hazardous materials; or (5) Operates a vehicle used to transport hazardous materials.
Question: who needs DOT hazmat training?
Answer: all hazmat employees require training including the following: (1) General awareness/familiarization training, and (2) Function-specific training.
Question: when and how often do I need training?
Answer: Initial training by a new hazmat employee, or a hazmat employee who changes job functions must be completed within 90 days after employment or a change in job function. Recurring training is required at least once every three years.
Check out the DOT regulations for the 49 CFR, Part 172, Subpart H regulations or the website of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a less formal and more readable explanation.