Compliance: Train, train, train

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Q. My company carries oxygen and other medical gases, but we don't fill them. Are there any special  requirements?

A. Yes. Anyone who transports or offers for transport a hazardous material must be trained according to Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. In the homecare industry, the regulations usually refer to an HME provider that delivers oxygen or allows patients to pick up oxygen at its place of business.

According to federal law, any hazmat employee must be trained in four different areas. In our industry, a hazmat employee is anyone who touches cylinders or prepares shipping papers. This means that everyone--from the delivery driver to the office person who wipes down tanks--must be trained.

First, hazmat employees must have general awareness/familiarization training that covers general information about the hazardous material codes so that employees can recognize and identify hazardous materials that are covered in the law.

Second, each hazmat employee must have safety training. This training should cover the emergency response information for the hazardous material, how to protect the employee and how to safely handle the material.

Third, each hazmat employee must have function-specific training regarding the specific sections of the hazmat code that apply to the hazmat employee's job.

Finally, each hazmat employee must have security awareness training. This training covers the security risks associated with and the methods to improve transportation security.

The bottom line is this: An oxygen provider must train its employees according to these DOT requirements and an oxygen filler must train its employees according to these  requirements plus additional Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements. hme

Victoria Marquard-Schultz is general counsel and head of the compliance and regulatory department at Applied Home Healthcare Equipment. She can be reached at 440-788-4099 or