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Legal Blog

According to NTSB Report, Cargo Tank Inspectors May Be Under Qualified

Cargo tank loaded and driven by cargo tank inspectors

The investigation of a 2016 propane truck crash in Eastern Alabama has revealed industry-wide deficiencies in the training and qualification of cargo tank inspectors. While reviewing the factors that contributed to the crash, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators concluded that “current regulations and federal oversight are not adequately ensuring that inspectors have the knowledge, skills and abilities to perform these critical safety inspections.”

Trucking accidents are serious, and if you or a loved one has been involved in such an incident, you’re likely suffering from serious injuries. If this is the case, call the Houston truck accident lawyers from The Krist Law Firm, P.C. today at (281) 283-8500 to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.

What Safety Issues Did NTSB Investigators Find?

The NTSB investigation into the Alabama crash revealed that the 10,500-gallon tanker truck involved had not been properly inspected in the years leading up to the crash. However, these lackluster inspections were not a cause of the accident. Although the driver reported that he heard a noise and felt the truck veer into oncoming traffic, the investigators concluded that the driver simply lost control because he was driving too fast.

The crash may have been caused by driver error, but the NTSB investigation details several safety issues both within the company involved with the crash, and the industry in general. These issues include:

Loading Practices at Enterprise Propane
Inspectors compared invoices with the capacity of the tank involved in the crash. Their findings revealed that the driver had overfilled the tank by over 300 gallons on 80 percent of his recent trips.

The Tank Involved in the Crash was Not Properly Inspected
The post-crash inspection revealed that a tank inspection performed in June 2011 by H&W Tank Testing Company, Inc. contained false information. For example, the manway gasket was found to be “hard and brittle,” indicating that it had not been inspected. Furthermore, several bolts were missing, and the interior of the tank was corroded, making it highly unlikely that an internal inspection even occurred in 2011.

Certification and Training of Cargo Tank Inspectors
Data obtained from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prompted the NTSB to conclude that the falsification of cargo tank inspection reports is an industry-wide practice. Thus, thousands of dangerous cargo tanks may be on the road today. The FMCSA data also shows that many inspectors do not undergo regular training. Furthermore, the NTSB took issue with the low educational requirements necessary to become a certified inspector. For example, anyone with three years’ industry experience accumulated before 1991 may be qualified, regardless of their educational background.

What Does the NTSB Recommend to Improve Cargo Tank Safety?

The NTSB report includes several recommendations, including:

  • Incorporating recommended inspector training requirements into Hazardous Materials Regulations to improve the enforcement of those training requirements. For now, improper training can only be punished through an injunction, which is a complicated and expensive legal procedure.
  • Eliminating the “grandfather provision” from the regulatory definition of inspector, which allows people with three years’ experience prior to 1991 to act as registered cargo tank inspectors.
  • Revising the Hazardous Materials Regulations to allow the suspension or revocation of inspector registrations when they fail to meet the requirements set forth in said regulations.
  • Developing and implementing company procedures that give proper oversight to drivers and other personnel tasked with loading hazardous materials onto trucks.

Our Houston Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help

At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our mission is to help injured people get the compensation they deserve after an accident. Failure to comply with industry regulations may be used as evidence of a company’s negligence. If you or a family member has been injured in a truck crash, do not accept a settlement before consulting with one of our lawyers. Contact us today at (281) 283-8500 to obtain your free case consultation.