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Hazardous materials regulations can be a maze but understanding how subsidiary placards fit into the puzzle can lead to safer and more compliant hazmat shipments. Placards are vital visual indicators when transporting hazardous materials, providing essential information about the nature of hazardous materials within a container.
These placards play a critical role in ensuring the safety of transportation personnel, first responders, and the environment. When you have multiple hazards for a material that require placards, which ones must be displayed?
Placards can be used to communicate two types of hazards: primary and subsidiary:
Primary placards are required on all sides of a transport vehicle or container, and they denote the primary hazard class of the material being shipped. They convey the most significant danger associated with the hazardous material.
Subsidiary placards are used to provide additional information about the secondary hazards of the material. Subsidiary placards help convey specific risks related to the material that might not be fully covered by the primary placard.
Typically, only the primary hazard placards are displayed. However, there are specific conditions listed in �172.505, that require the subsidiary hazard to be displayed:
If the material has a subsidiary hazard and does not meet any one of the three criteria listed above, then displaying a subsidiary hazard placard is allowable, but not required. If you use a subsidiary placard, then you must also display the primary placard.
Key to remember: Properly using subsidiary placards will make it safer in the event of an incident and it will keep your drivers in compliance during a roadside inspection.
After being a temporary (temp) employee from a staffing agency for more than a year, Andrea is hired as a regular employee for a company in which she temped. Two months later, she announces she is pregnant and wants to take leave for the birth. She wants the leave to begin in about four months.
This begs the question: Does the time Andrea spent as a temp employee count toward her eligibility for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
Why temp employees?
Employers have many reasons to turn to temporary employees in lieu of bringing on regular employees. Some industries are more prone to using this option. In a tight labor market, however, temp employees might be harder to come by because employers often end up bringing them on as regular staff with all the perks and benefits.
So, how do employers determine whether such employees meet the FMLA eligibility?
In situations involving temp employees, the employer and the staffing agency are considered joint employers. As such, the employer must count the time that an employee was working through a staffing agency at a host/client employer towards the FMLA eligibility criteria.
Joint employers might be separate and distinct entities with separate owners, managers, and facilities. Employees jointly employed by two employers � as are temporary employees � are counted by both employers in determining employer coverage and employee eligibility for leave. It does not matter whether or not an employee is on only one of the employer�s payrolls.
Primary and secondary employer
In joint employment relationships under the FMLA, the �primary� employer is responsible to all its employees for giving the notices required by the FMLA, as well as:
A �secondary� employer with a total of 50 or more employees, including all jointly employed employees, is prohibited from interfering with an employee�s attempt to exercise FMLA rights, or retaliating against an employee for opposing a practice that is unlawful.
The factors for distinguishing a �primary� employer from a �secondary� employer in joint employment relationships will depend upon specific details. Facets that help decide these roles include knowing which one has the authority and responsibility to:
What about Andrea?
Returning to the opening scenario, since Andrea�s time spent as a temp employee counts toward her eligibility, she has worked for the company more than 12 months.
If she has worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months at the time leave is to begin, and works at a location with at least 50 company employees within 75 miles, she would be entitled to FMLA leave for the birth of her child.
Key to remember: Time spent as a temp employee while working for a host company counts toward the FMLA 12 months worked and the 1,250 hours worked employee eligibility criteria.
Ever since Canada legalized recreational cannabis back in 2018, it has left many motor carriers wondering if they can drug test their drivers. Impairment from cannabis use is a safety risk, and for most employers, performing drug tests to manage the risk is not an option. Where do motor carriers and drivers fit in, and what are their options?
Can motor carriers drug test their drivers? The short answer is no. Canada does not have a federal regulation that requires drug testing for drivers. However, this does not mean that Canadian motor carriers cannot implement and enforce a drug and alcohol policy for their drivers. In fact, many carriers have developed successful policies that minimize the risk of getting in trouble with the law and ensure the safety of their drivers and the public.
For the most part, drug testing not only violates the Human Rights Code, but it is also a gross infringement on an individual's reasonable right to protection of privacy. Motor carriers operating in Canada need to make sure they consider the human rights and privacy rights of their drivers when implementing any type of drug testing program and policy.
Motor carriers have the right to expect their drivers to arrive at work fit for duty and remain that way throughout the duration of their shift. Communicating this expectation to them is important and, at a minimum, should be communicated by implementing a �fit-for-work� policy that makes your expectations around impairment of any kind clear.
There are some circumstances in which drug testing is allowed, though they are rare and very specific.
1. Safety-sensitive positions: Universal random drug testing would be acceptable in workplaces that can be shown to be extremely dangerous and where a worker�s impairment would likely result in catastrophe. Based on this definition commercial truck drivers would be considered to be in a safety-sensitive position.
2. Reasonable suspicion of impairment: If an employee appears to be obviously impaired, drug testing may be permissible, especially if they�re involved in a collision and there is reasonable suspicion that they are under the influence of drugs.
3. As part of a rehabilitation/return-to-work program: A driver with substance abuse disorder may be subject to unannounced drug testing to be carried out as part of a rehabilitation program and return-to-work program.
Unlike in the United States, pre-employment drug testing is generally not permitted in Canada, except in limited circumstances. Each Canadian province has its own legislation regarding testing for drugs. In Alberta, the courts have been less protective of individual privacy rights and have allowed drug testing in the oil and gas sector. Most companies in Ontario and British Columbia opt not to test for drugs, adhering to human rights legislation and privacy concerns.
Motor carriers must inform their drivers about the drug and alcohol policy and unlike U.S. testing programs, are required to obtain their consent before conducting any test. By working together, motor carriers and drivers can create a safe and healthy work environment for everyone involved.
Carriers should update their policies addressing drug and alcohol use at least once per year. Carriers must pay close attention to:
Key to remember: Drug testing in Canada is legal but not regulated, so carriers must exercise caution when implementing a drug testing policy. There�s a fine line between allowable testing and human rights/employee privacy violations.
In response to the confirmation that only 8.1 percent of all U.S. truck drivers are women and only 2.7 percent are over-the-road truck drivers, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) Research Advisory Committee is prioritizing a women-focused research plan at the ATRI 2023 Annual Meeting.
What will the ATRI investigate?
The ATRI research investigation will explore:
Key research approaches
Key aspects of the research will include:
Industry stakeholders who wish to be involved in this research initiative can reach out to lead Research Analyst Abbigail Huffman at AHuffman@trucking.org
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has officially announced that vehicles subject to the Heavy-Duty Inspection and Maintenance regulation (HD I/M regulation), now called the Clean Truck Check regulation, must report their vehicles to CARB and pay the 2024 annual compliance fee by December 31, 2023. The vehicles covered by this requirement are all non-gasoline powered vehicles with a GVWR over 14,000 pounds operating in California, regardless of where the vehicle is based.
Reporting and fees
On October 1, 2023, the CARB�s Clean Truck Check reporting database will open. This will be the website where carriers that operate in California must register their vehicles and pay the $30 per vehicle fee. The registration process includes providing:
Reporting semi-annual OBD downloads
This site is also where the required onboard diagnostic (OBD) reports will be submitted. The OBD data from each vehicle must be downloaded by a CARB authorized tester or by your telematics provider and submitted every six months. The deadline for submission will be the expiration date of the vehicle�s license plate (for a California plated vehicle) or based on the last digit of the VIN (for a vehicle plated outside of California).
For out-of-state vehicles, if the last digit if the VIN is 0, this means the deadline for submission is October. The scheme builds from there with 1 indicating November, 2 December, 3 January, 4 February, etc. The submission can be made up to 90 days before the end of the month it is due.
For vehicles with an engine manufactured prior to MY 2013, the requirement is that the vehicle undergo a smoke opacity test, rather than the OBD download and submission. The results of the smoke opacity test are then submitted in place of the OBD data.
CARB offers the training necessary for an individual to become a qualified tester. The training is free and is available at:
Once your company has a qualified tester and the required equipment (OBD reader and smoke opacity testing equipment if you have vehicles with engine older than MY 2013), you will be able to conduct the required downloads and testing in-house and submit the data to CARB. If you do not want to have testers on staff, you will need to locate a registered tester in your area or have your telematics provider do the submissions for you (if you use a CARB authorized telematics provider).
Key to remember: This program goes into full effect in 2024. By then carriers that operate vehicles in California must have their vehicles registered, fees paid, and the ability to do the required testing and submit the required downloads or opacity test results.
The road to safer highways is paved with data, and MVRs often provide carriers information that can identify risky drivers before an accident occurs.
A driver�s motor vehicle record (MVR) is part of the driver qualification process, and a motor carrier is required to request an MVR when hiring an operator of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), and annually thereafter. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) do not dictate standards when reviewing the MVR but at minimum, the carrier must ensure the driver is properly licensed for the vehicle assigned.
Motor carriers should create a policy to identify which traffic citations and crashes are unacceptable based on company standards. The policy should address both driver candidates and existing drivers. If a driver does not meet the standards, specific actions should be outlined in the policy.
The regulations indicate that the carrier must consider any evidence that the driver has violated safety or hazmat regulations. Furthermore, the regulations say that �great weight� must be given to speeding, reckless driving, and DUIs, which may indicate that the driver has exhibited a disregard for the safety of the public.
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A committee approach with safety, operations, and linehaul is considered best practice when reviewing MVRs. One member of the qualification team should be an expert on interpreting MVR codes of individual states, and that can be invaluable to avoid missing, critical information.
Carriers also work with their insurance providers to create the policy when determining the standards. Often MVRs are scored, placing a severity value on traffic citations and crashes. If a driver exceeds a predetermined limit, the policy dictates a specific action on the part of the carrier (e.g., no longer in consideration for position, coaching, discipline).
If a driver is involved in a high-profile crash, poor driving history (even if licensed at the time) may result in claims of negligent entrustment, meaning the carrier should have known the driver was a danger on the road. During litigation, a plaintiff attorney will focus on the MVR review process, especially if there were warning signs that should have been identified.
The annual MVR is the minimum driving history that a motor carrier is obligated to request. The carrier is permitted to request full MVRs more often or use an alert system which notifies users whenever something changes on a driving record (e.g., new med card, speeding ticket, etc.). Using a third-party service to monitor driving records to alert carriers to changes is also an option that has become more popular in recent years.
For an existing employee, the consequences of the policy don�t always have to be termination. Refresher training, coaching, or some other safety management control may help get the driver back on track. When a motor carrier learns of an unsafe driving practice, it�s a common practice to coach the driver so it doesn�t become a pattern.
Key to remember: Carriers should use the MVR process to identify and correct high risk behaviors from potential and current drivers.