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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Interpretation Response #14-0134 ([General Electric] [Ms. Bridgette A. Lobstein])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: General Electric

Individual Name: Ms. Bridgette A. Lobstein

Location State: IL Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

March 23, 2015

Bridgette A. Lobstein
Executive Vice President
Operations Leader – Rail Services
General Electric
161 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60601

Ref. No.: 14-0134

Dear Ms. Lobstein:

This is in response to your July 3, 2014 letter requesting clarification of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171 - 180) applicable to the definition of a "hazmat employee" and the training requirements of Subpart H of Part 172 of the HMR. In your incoming letter, you state your business is divided into functions: Sales, Contract Administration, Business Development, Government Relations, Operations, Finance, Asset Management/Marketing, Compliance, Legal, Information Technology (IT) Systems, and Human Resources. The principle mission of serving your customers is through your Sales, Contract Administration, and Operations divisions. The Sales Team maintains customer relationships with the various industries served by the business. The Contract Administration Team provides customer relations support for the Sales Team on leases and billing. Operations includes oversight of shop management, car flow, fleet management, procurement, regulatory quality and compliance, Environmental Health and Safety, and Engineering. You state that you consider only Operations employees to be hazmat employees, and ask for clarification of a "hazmat employee" as defined by § 171.8 of the HMR. You also ask whether employees at the General Electric (GE) Railcar Services Chicago headquarters should be considered hazmat employees and subject to the quality assurance program (QAP) training requirements of 49 CFR Part 179.7.

In the scenario you describe, GE Railcar Services repairs, qualifies, and maintains a fleet of tank cars through its affiliated companies at locations (shops and mobile units) owned by GE Rail Services or third party providers. Some of the activities supporting the repair, maintenance, qualification, and marking of the GERS tank car fleet are performed at the Chicago headquarters (HQ) by personnel employed in different business units such as Sales, Contract Administration, and Operations.

Examples of these activities are:

  1. Sales and/or Contract Administration personnel who confirm the ownership of tank car service equipment and interior coatings and linings required by 49 CFR Part 180.513.
  2. Sales and/or Contract Administration personnel who approve the use of qualification and maintenance procedures developed by GE or third parties required by 49 CFR Part 180.513.
  3. Sales and/or Contract Administration personnel who apply for Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) One Time Movement Approvals for nonconforming tank cars required by 49 CFR Part 174.50.
  4. Engineering and Purchasing personnel who develop and approve written procedures for the repair, alteration, conversion, qualification and maintenance of tank cars, purchase replacement service equipment and gaskets required by 49 CFR 179.9 and 49 CFR Parts 180.501 through 180.517.

Per § 171.8, a "hazmat employee" is defined as a person employed by a hazmat employer and who, in the course of their employment, loads, unloads, or handles hazardous materials; designs, manufactures, fabricates, inspects, marks, maintains, reconditions, repairs, or tests a package, container or packaging component that is represented, marked, certified, or sold as qualified for use in transporting hazardous material in commerce or directly affects hazardous materials transportation safety.

This Office agrees that your Operations workers would be considered hazmat employees. In other words, a person who performs duties that are regulated under the HMR is considered to be a hazmat employee. Persons who, in the normal course of their employment, perform or manage the work of those performing, one or more of the activities listed above would be considered hazmat employees and require general awareness, function-specific, safety/, security awareness and quality assurance program required by 49 CFR 172 .704 and 49 CFR 179.7 within 90 days of employment and every three years thereafter.

By contrast, we also note that sales/contracts employees would generally not be hazmat employees. For example, those persons who would not be considered hazmat employees would be Customer Service personnel whose only involvement in the tank car repair, qualification, and maintenance process is to send previously approved qualification, maintenance, and/or repair procedures to third party shops for use on GE tank cars unless they were also instrumental in securing FRA One Time Movement Approvals.

I trust this satisfies your inquiry. Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.



T. Glenn Foster
Chief, Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

171.8, 180.513

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
171.8 Definitions and abbreviations
180.513 Repairs, alterations, conversions, and modifications