If you’ve ever driven behind a tanker on the highway, you’ve probably noticed its hazmat labels. But labels are just part of what it takes to maintain a safe and reliable commercial transportation system – hazmat investigators work on the front lines of transportation safety every day so that we don’t have to worry about how products like gasoline or disinfecting aerosols get to our local gas stations and stores.
Hazardous materials like these appear in the products that homes and businesses use every day and are a vital part of the economy. In fact, there are nearly one million shipments of hazardous materials along our highways, railroads, waterways, and in the air every day.
And as both the population and demand for commercial transportation continue to grow, DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) needs more people to join the field as investigators, to ensure those shipments are all made safely. Check out the agency’s new video featuring hazmat investigators who explain their duties, what they enjoy about their jobs, and why what they do is so important.
“We ensure that the package [containing hazardous materials] gets from point A to point B safely,” beams investigator Chevella Smith of PHMSA’s Southwest region.
PHMSA investigators don’t just look for what’s wrong; they also help shippers and handlers fix the problem – or avoid a problem altogether – by helping them better understand the Hazardous Materials Regulations. 2012 Hazmat Investigator of the Year Kimberly Taisee says, “...One thing that we find, is that everyone within the industry, for the most part, wants to do things correctly.”
Other hazmat investigators report enjoying the opportunity to travel across the country in order to ensure that federal safety regulations are properly addressed.
“My favorite part of the job is [that] it’s not routine. There could be a different challenge every day for the [same] safety mission,” reports investigator Shawn Daniels of the Southwest region.
Now, more than ever, PHMSA needs more people to join its dedicated and talented staff. If you’re interested in making a difference through transportation safety, check out PHMSA’s video and information kit, then subscribe to our job announcements feed.
The next time you’re cleaning up around the house, check the label on your cleaning product. If there’s a long list of active ingredients, a hazard notice, and a manufacturer’s address, you can thank a hazmat transportation investigator for getting it to your town safely.