Breaking Down the Department of Transportation’s Emergency Response Guidebook

By January 20, 2016 No Comments

Summary of article by Dean Blauser, EHS Today, December 22, 2015

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) is an efficient and effective way for safety professionals to find initial information during an emergency incident.  Although the ERG is primarily intended for emergency responders, it is useful for safety professionals in a variety of industries.

The ERG is a tool for identifying material hazards and providing critical information about topics such as first aid, fire extinguishment, and evacuation distances to protect workers and the surrounding community.  It is also a great tool for proactively planning responses to the hazards associated at particular worksites.  The key to using the ERG is understanding how the guidebook works, and the process used to safely evaluate emergency incidents.

Color-Coded Sections

The ERG has four color-coded sections for easy reference.  An expanded navigation flow chart will be included in the 2016 update. Here are the basics of what each color-coded section covers.

Yellow – The yellow section is based on the 4-digit UN number and allows the user to look up the physical name and corresponding guide number for the material in the section.

Blue – The blue section lists chemicals by name in alphabetical order.  The section also provides the cross reference to the guide number and UN number associated with the material.  Be sure to carefully match the spelling of the chemical name as there are often substances with similar spellings.

Orange – All other sections lead to the orange section, which provides the bulk of information on primary hazards and emergency response actions for a given substance.  This includes information on PPE, evacuation distances, spill control, fire control and first aid measures.

Green – Chemicals highlighted in green within the blue or yellow section indicates they are toxic inhalation materials, and specific initial isolation distance and protective action distance information is provided.  Keep in mind the location of the hazard can effect evacuation distances.

White – The white section in the front of the book contains specialized information that could be of interest to industry.  This includes information on rail cars, trailer identification, placards and pipeline information. The white section in the back provides information on explosives, boiling liquid expanding vapor explosions, and a glossary.

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