Articles Posted in Occupational Safety

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is starting a pilot program that will allow some truck drivers under the age of 21 to drive trucks across state lines.  In Maine, you can get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) when you are 16 years old but federal regulations require you to be 21 to drive across state lines.  Only drivers who operated heavy vehicles in the military will be eligible to participate in this FMCSA pilot program.

According to the FMCSA, the “purpose of the Under 21 pilot program will be to determine whether persons under the age of 21 can safely operate CMVs in interstate commerce, and to enhance opportunities for persons with relevant military training to enter the CMV industry. While many intrastate CMV drivers are already in this age group, the Agency is not aware of any studies or published reports comparing their safety performance with that of drivers over 21, either interstate or intrastate.”

Members of Congress introduced a bill earlier this year to lower the commercial truck driving age to 18.  There is a shortage of truck drivers that has been creating problems for businesses who need trucks to ship their goods.  One way to increase the number of truck drivers would be to increase the amount of pay they make but lowering the age of drivers could also increase the number of truck drivers.

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This week, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution that repealed a regulation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the reporting of workplace injuries. The President is expected to sign the repeal into law. The repealed regulation allowed OSHA inspectors to fine corporations who failed to properly record workplace injuries if the reporting error occurred within five years of an OSHA citation. Now that the regulation has been repealed, OSHA can only fine corporations for violations that occurred within six months of an OSHA citation.

Federal statues require certain corporations to record workplace injuries and keep those records for five years. So, this regulatory repeal basically just makes it easier for corporations that do not follow the law to avoid any consequences for their unlawful activity. Former Commissioners of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that served under Presidents Bush and Obama both criticized the repeal of this regulation. They argued that repeal of the regulation would mean that, “responsible employers who accurately record workplace injuries will be at a disadvantage competing with employers who do not maintain accurate records.” They also warned that repealing the regulation would result in less accurate data on workplace injuries and, thus, make it more difficult to enact policies to protect workers.

The vote on repeal of the regulation was largely along partisan lines. Senator Collins voted to repeal the regulation and Senator King, along with every Democrat in the Senate, voted against repeal. Representative Poliquin voted to repeal the regulation and Representative Pingree voted against repeal.