Tanker group petitions DOT about California meal, rest break requirements for hazmat carriers

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tankerA group representing tanker carriers in the trucking industry is petitioning a DOT-sub-agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), for a determination as to whether federal hazardous material law preempts California’s meal and rest break requirements.

The National Tank Truck Carriers says California’s rules, which entitles drivers to paid 30-minute meal break periods after five and 10 hours of work, prohibits carriers from requiring an employee to work during these breaks. NTTC adds these requirements “were not promulgated with an eye toward safe transportation of hazardous materials” or federal hours-of-service regulations. The laws create “the potential for unnecessary delay when a driver must deviate from his or her route to comply with the requirements,” NTTC says.

The group also argues the meal and rest break requirements conflict with the Hazardous Material Regulations’ load attendance requirements, because in certain situations, these rules would “implicate the driver ‘working’ under California law.”

Finally, NTTC says, many carriers include a “constant attendance of cargo” requirement in their security plans, and the California break requirements aren’t flexible enough to meet those requirements, the group argues.

PHMSA is seeking public comments on whether federal hazmat regulations should preempt California’s meal and rest break requirements. Comments can be made by searching Docket No. PHMSA-2016-0097 at www.regulations.gov for 45 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register on Friday, Sept. 2, and rebuttal comments can be made during the 45 days following the end of the initial comment period.