The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) determined that federal law preempts California’s meal and rest break requirements for all motor vehicle operators that transport hazardous materials, granting a request from the National Tank Truck Carriers Association (NTTC).
In response to a petition submitted by NTTC, PHMSA found that the California’s state requirements “create an unnecessary delay” in transporting hazardous materials.
California law requires employers to provide employees with an “off duty” 30-minute meal period after every five hours worked and an additional 10-minute rest period for every four hours worked. PHSMA, however, clarified that the federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA) as well as federal Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs) preempt the California statute “to ensure public safety, maintain security, and reduce delay[s].”
The federal HMRs incorporate Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations that require carriers transporting hazardous materials ensure they are “attended” at all times by the driver, directly conflicting with California’s off-duty requirement.
PHMSA explained that “California’s rules create compliance incompatibilities with respect to operators carrying explosive materials, because it is not possible to simultaneously comply with the off-duty requirement of the California rule and federal safety requirements.”
It is unclear if California will appeal PHMSA’s decision. Further information can be found in the Federal Register notice here.
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