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With the holiday season in full swing, motor carriers should prepare for increased cargo theft activity. Even if you made it through Thanksgiving without being compromised, start planning now to protect your assets during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Both holidays occur on a Monday this year, which gives thieves a three-day weekend to evaluate your security measures.
Most cargo theft activity occurs during the closed, non-business hours at unsecured trucking terminals. Thieves conduct surveillance and develop patterns before breaking into trucking yards during the weekend hours. If the trucking yard does not have on-site security personnel or an alarm system, thieves will operate under the cover of darkness to evaluate the freight. Organized cargo groups prefer food and beverage shipments because they are difficult to trace. But thieves will steal just about anything.
Motor carrier personnel, including drivers, must remain vigilant to protect customer freight and company assets. This is especially true during extended holiday weekends when most carriers are closed from Friday evening through Tuesday morning. The American Trucking Association and various industry security councils indicate that the Christmas and New Year’s holidays are associated with the highest number of cargo thefts each year.
Fleets can deter theft by implementing the following security polices during closed hours:
Consider hiring a security guard company to protect your assets and customer freight. To avoid chaos near the holiday weekend, evaluate vendors weeks in advance and set realistic expectations with the on-site guard. Security professionals should also test perimeter alarm systems in advance of the holiday weekend. Unfortunately, many carriers wait until the last minute, and alarm vendors are not always able to service the systems prior to the shutdown.
Enhanced yard lighting and perimeter fencing work together to deter theft. Conduct perimeter checks and repair any holes in fencing and ensure that all yard lights are operational. Many carriers request extra patrols during holiday weekends, so reach out to local law enforcement and ask for an increased presence during the extended weekend.
Key to remember: When you ring in 2024, don’t have any regrets about how 2023 ended. Keep your cargo secure through the holiday season.
If you think you may have combustible dusts lurking in your facilities, you’ll want to know about recent updates to OSHA’s Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP). Have you been added to the list of higher-likelihood industries?
Employers are required to inspect their facilities for processes that generate or use combustible dusts and address associated fire, deflagration, and explosion hazards. So, what constitutes combustible dust? Combustible dusts are fine particles that present an explosion hazard when suspended in air under certain conditions.
The following combustible dusts can cause catastrophic loss of life, severe injuries, and building destruction:
Many combustible dust incidents occur without the employer or workers realizing they are in danger. They were either unaware of the potential for dust explosions or failed to recognize the serious nature of dust explosion hazards.
Hazard assessments must be performed to identify all physical and health hazards associated with combustible dusts and ensure Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) list potential exposures and controls. Employers must anticipate types of operations, material use, or downstream material processing that can generate or potentially generate combustible dusts. Operations and uses include:
How easily particles ignite, or cause explosions, is dependent upon the particle size, shape, moisture content or humidity, and available oxygen. These physical characteristics can change during manufacturing, use, or while the material is being processed. The regulation at 1910.272(j)(2)(ii) requires the removal of any fugitive grain dust accumulations whenever they exceed ⅛ inch (0.32 cm) at priority housekeeping areas or to demonstrate and assure, through the development and implementation of the housekeeping program, that equivalent protection is provided. The thickness of dust must be no more than the thickness of a dime. Essentially, if a footprint can be made in the dust, there’s too much.
OSHA replaced its March 2008 directive with a revised NEP on January 30, 2023. The NEP added several industries with a higher likelihood of having combustible dust hazards or that have experienced combustible dust-related fatalities/catastrophes. Industries added include:
Too often, employers and workers were unaware of the potential for dust explosions or failed to recognize the serious nature of dust explosion hazards. OSHA has added some industries with a higher likelihood of having combustible dust hazards to the Combustible Dust NEP.
SUMMARY: PHMSA proposes to amend the Hazardous Materials Regulations to revise the classification and approval process for certain low-hazard fireworks; to revise classification criteria for small arms cartridges to include tracer ammunition; to include the PHMSA portal as the method to submit applications for all explosives approvals; and to allow for voluntary termination of an explosive approval by the approval holder.
DATES: This proposed rule is published in the Federal Register November 30, 2023, page 83514.
View proposed rule.
In an effort to improve the working relationships between trucking and towing industries in the U.S., the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has released data addressing the causes of and possible solutions to predatory heavy-duty towing practices.
What is predatory towing?
The most common types of predatory heavy-duty towing practices include:
These issues are a major cost for both motor carriers and for other towing companies that are compliant with the regulations.
ATRI’s cause analysis
ATRI reports that over 80 percent of motor carriers experience both excessive rates and unwarranted charges, with 29.8 percent of crash-related towing invoices containing some form of predatory billing.
Invoice records show that these excessive rates and charges included:
Since carriers are rarely able to choose which towing company to work with, carriers don’t have the option to compare rates or approve tow strategies. The conflicting objectives between towing and trucking companies create increasing opportunities for problematic predatory towing, ATRI says.
To prevent predatory towing incidents, ATRI says carriers should contact their local trucking association to find preferred towing companies. Carriers should also research their state’s laws and encourage drivers to take photo and video records of the scene before, during, and after the tow, in addition to recording any other relevant details.
To help mitigate a predatory towing situation, carriers should advise their drivers to take notes on:
Additionally, ATRI says carriers should advise drivers not to sign any documents from the tower, since the documents may not be accurate and do not technically require a signature.
Carriers who face a predatory towing situation should contact their insurer to negotiate with the tow company or hire an experienced lawyer to handle the issue.
Learn more about the causes and countermeasures of predatory towing in ATRI’s full report.
Wintery weather has just begun, and everyone has the potential to slip, trip, or fall due to snow, ice, or other slippery surfaces.
To further complicate matters, professional drivers encounter working conditions outside of the carrier’s control, such as a poorly maintained facility at a shipper, receiver, or fuel or rest stop.
To reduce the chances of injuries, train your drivers on the topic of walking-working surfaces and how to reduce the likelihood of slipping or stumbling.
Learn more about Walking-working surfaces.
Winter weather, combined with other dangers, can be detrimental.
Drivers can lose their balance when encountering any of the following:
When walking across a parking lot or other outdoor venue, drivers should take the proven path rather than a shortcut which may have hidden dangers.
See related content on Fall protection from CMVs
The great outdoors is not the only place a driver can have a mishap. The following indoor variables can result in slips, trips, or falls:
No matter the location, indoor or outdoor, the following circumstances are a tumble waiting to happen:
Identifying risks is of little use if drivers don’t take precautions. A slip, trip, or fall is less likely to occur if drivers:
At the terminal, poor maintenance can harm anyone at the facility — an employee, vendor, or visitor. Take precautions by:
Key to remember: Preventing slips on the job can be accomplished if employees are alert to dangers, take appropriate actions, and report anything that needs to be corrected.
International Women’s Day isn’t until March 8, 2024, but for employers that want to focus on supporting female employees while improving retention, perhaps it’s time to consider the effects of menopause at work and how they can be eased.
Menopause symptoms vary among women. While it’s a personal issue, it is one that can impact the workplace (e.g., increased absences). Employers are beginning to take notice, since the ripple effect can affect the bottom line.
By 2025, 1.1 billion women will be menopausal due to longer life spans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2022, the labor force participation rate for women was 56.8 percent. It's likely that a significant number of these women are struggling with issues related to menopause, and employers that ignore them risk losing valuable workers.
Historically, employers have focused on supporting maternity-related scenarios and support such issues as surrogacy, fertility, and adoption. Employers have not, however, delved into what they can do to address the effects of menopause on their employees. Menopause symptoms, which generally impact women in their 40s and 50s, are individualized, making a one-size-fits-all solution likely ineffective.
Menopause symptoms, which can last four to eight years, can include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, depression, mood changes, and brain fog. For some people, these symptoms can be severe, resulting in lost work time, difficulty managing tasks, decreased confidence, and added stress from masking their issues.
Employers don’t need to launch an entire campaign on the issue, but taking some steps can bring it to light and, therefore, lighten the load of those struggling with it.
To demonstrate support, employers should:
Key to remember: Employers that do not consider addressing menopause in the workplace risk losing good employees, negative branding, challenging talent acquisition, and — ultimately — profits.