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The D.R.S. Advisor - 6/10

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says it will not meet a court-imposed deadline to issue new hours-of-service rules for drivers of property-carrying vehicles.

According to a status report filed on May 20, 2011, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the FMCSA now intends to publish a final rule by October 28, 2011, about three months later than originally scheduled.

The agency says the delay is necessary due to its need to collect additional public input on several studies being used in the rulemaking process.

The original deadline for a final rule — July 26, 2011 — was part of a 2009 settlement agreement with Public Citizen and other petitioners. The FMCSA published a proposed version of the rule on December 29, 2010.


 

YOU ARE “OUT OF SERVICE.”

 

Posted June 3, 2011

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an unsatisfactory safety rating and placed out-of-service a North Carolina-based bus company for violating multiple federal safety regulations. Under the out-of-service order, the bus company is prohibited from operating in interstate transportation services.

FMCSA issued the unsatisfactory safety rating and out-of-service order following a full compliance review of the business, which found multiple violations in the areas of driver qualification requirements, drug and alcohol compliance, hours-of-service rules, and vehicle maintenance.

This specific motor coach company was involved in a fatal crash on I-95 near Fredericksburg, Virginia that killed four people. FMCSA is working closely with the Virginia State Police to investigate the causes of the crash.

This month, FMCSA and its state and local law enforcement partners conducted more than 3,000 surprise passenger carrier safety inspections over a two-week period that resulted in 442 unsafe buses or drivers being removed from the nation’s roadways. The strike force issued out-of-service citations to 127 drivers and 315 vehicles during the unannounced inspections that took place from May 1– 5, 2011. Additionally, over the past five years, FMCSA has doubled the number of bus inspections and comprehensive safety reviews of the nation's estimated 4,000 passenger bus companies. Roadside inspections of motor coaches jumped from 12,991 in 2005 to 25,703 in 2010, while compliance reviews rose from 457 in 2005 to 1,042 in 2010.


 

U.S. DOT and Better Business  Bureau

Launch Partnership to Fight Distracted Driving

On September 30, 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles; when using electronic equipment supplied by the government while driving; or while driving privately owned vehicles when they’re on official government business.  The order also encourages federal contractors and others doing business with the government to adopt and enforce their own policies banning texting while driving on the job.  The USDOT and Better Business Bureau are calling on businesses across the country to adopt distracted driving policies as part of their employee culture.  Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America’s roads, “BBB is very pleased to help the USDOT spread the word about the dangers of distracted driving, by Raising awareness about the dangers of multi-tasking while driving is vital. 
The national website of the Better Business Bureau will feature a link to a free tool kit that provides employers with suggested distracted driving policies to help keep their employees safe.  The kit, created by the USDOT and the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), contains materials such as a sample company policy, a sample memo to employees on that policy, and a sample company press release. 

In addition, Better Business Bureau’s national website will feature videos from USDOT’s  “Faces of Distracted Driving” video series.  Nearly 5,500 people in the U.S. were killed and almost half a million were injured in accidents related to distracted driving in 2009.  Eighteen percent of those fatal accidents involved the use of a cell phone.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s campaign against distracted driving is a multi-modal effort that includes automobiles, trains, planes, and commercial vehicles.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) banned commercial truck and bus drivers from texting while driving in September 2010, and proposed a ban on the use of cell phones by commercial drivers in December 2010.  In September 2010, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) proposed a ban on the use of electronic devices by drivers operating a motor vehicle containing hazardous materials, in conjunction with the proposed FMCSA ban. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) banned rail employees from using cell phones or other electronic devices on the job following a September 2008 Metrolink crash in Chatsworth, California that killed 25 people.

After a Northwest flight crew distracted by a laptop overshot their  destination by 150 miles, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advised air carriers to create and enforce policies that limit distractions in the cockpit and keep pilots focused on transporting passengers safely.


Less lines – Shoes ok

The Department of Homeland Security, in a move that would be welcomed by long lines of beleaguered travelers, is considering letting most airline passengers go through airport security screening without removing their shoes or taking laptops out of their cases.” We are looking at what we can do to minimize the amount of divestiture of passengers waiting in line so that it’s possible that most people can leave their shoes on,” DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano told the annual conference of the American Association of Exporters and Importers in New York Tuesday.  “Can we minimize the number of people who have to take off their shoes and make it more by way of random instead of everybody?” she said. “Can we allow people not to have to put their laptop in a separate bin?” her comments drew loud applause from the audience. The DHS thinks it can make these change in the coming year or two. “I’m not saying immediately.” The change in security screening could come as part of an effort to create what the DHS secretary called a “trusted-traveler program”, similar to the C-TPAT program that expedites the passage of contains through security at the nation’s ports.  The trusted-traveler program would be usable domestically as well as internationally.

Summary of the some Major Laws of the Department of Labor

Wages & Hours

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prescribes standards for wages and overtime pay, which affect most private and public employment. The act is administered by the Wage and Hour Division. It requires employers to pay covered employees who are not otherwise exempt at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay of one-and-one-half-times the regular rate of pay. For nonagricultural operations, it restricts the hours that children under age 16 can work and forbids the employment of children under age 18 in certain jobs deemed too dangerous. For agricultural operations, it prohibits the employment

of children under age 16 during school hours and in certain jobs deemed too dangerous.

The Wage and Hour Division also enforces the labor standards provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that apply to aliens authorized to work in the U.S. under certain nonimmigrant visa programs

Workplace Safety & Health

The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act is administered by theOccupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Safety and health conditions in most private industries are regulated by OSHA or OSHA-approved state programs, which also cover public sector employers. Employers covered by the OSH Act must comply with the regulations and the safety and health standards promulgated by OSHA. Employers also have a general duty under the OSH Act to provide their employees with work and a workplace free from recognized, serious hazards. OSHA enforces the Act through workplace inspections and investigations. Compliance assistance and other cooperative programs are also available.

Workers' Compensation

The Long shore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA), administered by The Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP), provides for compensation and medical care to certain maritime employees (including a long shore worker or other person in long shore operations, and any harbor worker, including a ship repairer, shipbuilder, and ship breaker) and to qualified dependent survivors of such employees who are disabled or die due to injuries that occur on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas customarily used in loading, unloading, repairing or building a vessel.

The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) is a compensation program that provides a lump-sum payment of $150,000 and prospective medical benefits to employees (or certain of their survivors) of the Department of Energy and its contractors and subcontractors as a result of cancer caused by exposure to radiation, or certain illnesses caused by exposure to beryllium or silica incurred in the performance of duty, as well as for payment of a lump-sum of $50,000 and prospective medical benefits to individuals (or certain of their survivors) determined by the Department of Justice to be eligible for compensation as uranium workers under section 5 of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA).

The Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA), 5 U.S.C. 8101 et seq., establishes a comprehensive and exclusive workers' compensation program which pays compensation for the disability or death of a federal employee resulting from personal injury sustained while in the performance of duty. The FECA, administered by OWCP, provides benefits for wage loss compensation for total or partial disability, schedule awards for permanent loss or loss of use of specified members of the body, related medical costs, and vocational rehabilitation.

The Black Lung Benefits Act (BLBA) provides monthly cash payments and medical benefits to coal miners totally disabled from pneumoconiosis ("black lung disease") arising from their employment in the nation's coal mines. The statute also provides monthly benefits to a deceased miner's survivors if the miner's death was due to black lung disease. Employee Benefit Security

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act  ERISA) regulates employers who offer pension or welfare benefit plans for their employees. Title I of ERISA is administered by the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) (formerly the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration) and imposes a wide range of fiduciary, disclosure and reporting requirements on fiduciaries of pension and welfare benefit plans and on others having dealings with these plans. These provisions preempt many similar state laws. Under Title IV, certain employers and plan administrators must fund an insurance system to protect certain kinds of retirement benefits, with premiums paid to the federal government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). EBSA also administers reporting requirements for continuation of health-care provisions, required under the Comprehensive Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) and the health care portability requirements on group plans under the Health Insurance Portability andAccountability Act (HIPAA). Unions & Their Members

The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) of 1959 (also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act) deals with the relationship between a union and its members. It protects union funds and promotes union democracy by requiring labor organizations to file annual financial reports, by requiring union officials, employers, and labor consultants to file reports regarding certain labor relations practices, and by establishing standards for the election of union officers. The act is administered by the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS).

Two Senators Ask Government to Shut Down Website Selling Illegal Drugs

Parents should be aware of and monitor web use of this site.

Two U.S. senators are calling on the federal government to shut down a website that sells illegal drugs using layers of secrecy to avoid detection. The website sells drugs including cocaine, heroin and Methamphetamines.

Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Joe Manchin of West Virginia are asking the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Justice Department to close and investigate the website known as the Silk Road, named after the ancient Asian trade route.

The Associated Press reports that the website, which started in February, uses a network of buyers and sellers that hides their identity. The website tells sellers to make shipments using vacuum-sealed bags so that drug-sniffing dogs will not detect the packages.

Florida Governor Signs ‘Pill Mill’ Law to Cut Down on Prescription Drug Abuse

Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed into law a bill designed to cut down on prescription drug abuse by controlling ‘pill mills’ in the state. The law authorizes the creation of a prescription-drug monitoring database to reduce doctor-shopping by people looking to collect multiple painkiller prescriptions. The legislation also imposes new penalties for physicians who over prescribe medication and imposes stricter rules for operating pharmacies.

The Associated Press reports that federal authorities estimate that 85 percent of oxycodone is sold in Florida. Many of the sales are to people who come from out of state and then resell the pills illegally.

After Governor Scott signed the bill on Friday, federal authorities executed two search warrants in pill mill investigations, the AP reports. According to the Orlando Police Department, one doctor is accused of prescribing more pills than the entire state of California, which dispensed 303,000 oxycodone pills in one year.

Governor Scott had previously opposed the prescription drug-monitoring database. He said he was concerned about cost and patient privacy. In part to allay privacy concerns, the law requires that administrators of the database undergo FBI background checks. Law enforcement can only use the database as part of an active investigation.

REVIEW SOME IMPPORTANT COMPANY POKLICY ISSUES

There are three reasons to update your company drug and alcohol testing policy based on the research of William J. Judge, JD, LLM, Counsel

The impact of Medical Marijuana on your program;

  1. ADA amendments that now impact your program; and
  2. New DOT rules.

If you have not addressed these issues, you must do so. Here's what is happening:

 

Medical Marijuana: Fifteen (15) states and Washington, DC, now permit the medical use of marijuana. At least 15 more states have legislation on this subject currently pending. Each state's laws are different, ranging from no application to the workplace (California) to limiting employer action without appropriate policies in place.

 

ADA Amendments: The ADA Amendment Act of 2008 took effect on January 1, 2009. The regulations interpreting that law will take effect July 1, 2011. Unlike previous Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rules, these new rules directly impact workplace drug testing in two ways:

  1. the substances for which you are permitted to test (limited to DHHS-5, amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and PCP), and
  2. you can no longer have general rules requiring employees to report prescriptions.

DOT: There have been a number of DOT program updates over the past two (2) years. If you have employees who are required to have a commercial drivers license (CDL) as a requirement for employment, you should update your policy and procedures.

Flying Directions

I need -  a laugh

A helicopter pilot is flying to Seattle, and hits a pea-soup-thick fog bank. He’s completely disoriented, and flies blindly around until he spies the top few floors of an office building. He pulls up real close to it, and gets the attention of a woman sitting at her desk.

“Excuse me!” he yells to the woman. “Where am I?”

“You’re in a helicopter,” she replies.

The pilot pulls off sharply to the left, takes one or two crisp turns through the dense fog, and then does a perfect blind landing at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport.

“That was amazing!” says a passenger. “How did you know from that woman’s answer where you were?”

“Easy,” says the pilot. “Her answer, while correct, was absolutely useless.

So I immediately knew the building had to be Microsoft Tech Support.”.

 

 

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