Viewing posts from: June 2017

How to Prepare Your Drivers for a DOT Motor Vehicle Audit

Posted June 27, 2017 by Administrator

The Department of Transportation (DOT) regularly conducts motor vehicle audits to ensure that carriers are in compliance with applicable regulations. Audits are conducted without prior notice. The types of audits that are conducted include the following:

  • Compliance Review

Checks the vehicle to determine if the equipment meets safety standards. All areas of compliance are covered.

  • Security Review

Reviews the safety plan, training of the driver and other security-related measures.

  • Hazardous Materials Reviews

Comprehensive review that covers all aspects of transporting hazardous materials, such as policies, training, shipping documentation and labeling of containers.

  • New Driver Entrants

Within 3-6 months of the issuance of a USDOT number, a new driver safety audit will be conducted.

Paying attention to details and maintaining thorough records are important keys to passing the audit. It is imperative that you keep a copy of the DOT Compliance Checklist, Level 1 DOT Commercial Vehicle Inspection as well as a current North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria publication issued by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance on board your rigs so that drivers can refer to them as needed.

Here are 4 tips to help your company fleet stay in compliance and be prepared for a DOT audit.

  1. Talk with your drivers

As a fleet owner, it is vitally important for you to build rapport with your drivers so that there is a trust relationship. If you perceive the driver is making mistakes, you need to understand why the mistakes are happening and have enough of a relationship for there to be honest dialog with the goal of resolving the issues. Your drivers are the life of your business; they are the people that move your loads. They will be the ones that either make or break your business.

The inspection officer will begin the audit by interviewing the driver. During the interview, the officer will be inspecting the interior of the cab to ensure the cab and dash instruments are in good repair. The officer will also be looking for evidence of drug and/or alcohol usage during the cab inspection.

  1. Make Sure Your Equipment is in Good Repair

Use the Level 1 DOT Commercial Vehicle Inspection Checklist to determine if your vehicle is in compliance. Pay careful attention to the seat belts, windshield wipers, emergency lights, brake lights, lighting devices of all types, emergency exits, electrical cables, braking systems, fuel systems, exhaust systems, electrical cables, etc.

  1. Keep Your Paperwork and Logs Organized and Up-to-Date

It’s vitally important that your driver’s record keeping is organized and current so that he or she can easily demonstrate to an inspector that everything is in order. Make sure they know where their fire extinguisher and triangles are, and their documents are in order. Make sure they keep their information in a place that is easy to access and that everything is complete.

  1. The Attitude of the Driver is Important

Help your drivers understand how to maintain a respectful, cooperative attitude. If a driver is argumentative, sullen or uncooperative, the inspector is likely to demand a Level 1 Inspection. A driver with a cooperative, positive attitude will have a smoother experience and the inspection will go much quicker.

Your drivers should expect an inspection at any time. Work with them to help them understand the importance of passing their inspections, and support them in developing the systems they need to keep things organized and up-to-date. Maintain a positive relationship with them and model courtesy, respect and a professional attitude at all times.

Following these general guidelines will help your drivers pass their DOT inspections in a timely, efficient manner, helping them get back on the job working for your company.

Cline Wood represents top trucking insurance carriers across the country. To learn more about the issues that concern commercial truck companies today, trucking coverage and risk management, contact us.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

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Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls

Posted June 26, 2017 by Erin

Sometimes all it takes is one time slipping on a wet surface to cause a debilitating injury to a worker’s back, a broken bone, or worse.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 800 work-related fatalities and over 300,000 total work-related injuries due to slips, trips and falls in 2015.[1]

Once an injury occurs, a worker is typically unable to work for an extended period of time, potentially meaning less income.  There could also be significant medical expenses and decreased ability to conduct your normal daily activities, making it difficult to take care of your loved ones.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

    1. ONLY WEAR STURDY, WATERPROOF WORK BOOTS
      This helps keep your feet dry and prevents them from slipping off most surfaces.  NO flip flops, slides, or sandals.
    2. MAKE SURE YOUR WORK BOOTS HAVE GOOD NON-SLIP TREAD
      This helps give you good traction in adverse weather conditions and prevents slips/falls.  If your work boots are old, chances are good the tread is worn down and it’s time for a new pair.
    3. MAKE SURE YOUR WORK BOOTS HAVE A STEEL SAFETY TOE
      This helps prevent injuries from bumps or items accidentally dropped on your foot.
    4. REVIEW YOUR SURROUNDINGS
      Look around you to see if there are any potential hazards, like potholes, water/snow on the ground, etc.
    5. USE THREE POINTS OF CONTACT
      When getting in or getting out of your truck or trailer, make sure you have either two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand making contact with the truck the whole time.  This helps ensure stability.

     

    If you follow these basic guidelines you will drastically reduce the chance of a slip, trip or fall type of accident.  Your employer and your family will also appreciate your efforts to work safer and come home happy and healthy at the end of the workday.

    If you should have any questions regarding the information above or would like to discuss other safety topics, please don’t hesitate to contact Cline Wood at 888-451-3900 or safetrucking@clinewood.com.

    [1] Sources: https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2016/4836-fatal-work-injuries-in-the-united-states-during-2015.htm; https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh2.pdf


    This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

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Technical Highlight: How Differentials and Differential Locks Work on Commercial Trucks

Posted June 20, 2017 by Administrator

What does a differential do and how does the differential lock work on big trucks? A differential is a part of the rear axle. The differential is the axle that provides power to the unit and moves it forward whether it’s a passenger vehicle, a big truck or a bus. Most passenger vehicles today are front-wheel drive so they will not have a differential; semi-truck tractors are rear-wheel drive and therefore do have differentials.

The root word of “differential” is “difference.” Basically, a differential allows the vehicle to have different speeds for each wheel that is attached to the rear axle. The purpose of having different speeds is so that when you turn a corner the outside wheel needs to accelerate at a faster rate than the inside wheel. The inside wheel is functionally “fixed” and goes at a much slower rate than the outside wheel. The wheels need to be able to turn at different speeds; thus, you have a differential.

When you have a differential you will have gears that will allow one wheel to effectively have free play and the other one to accelerate faster. Sometimes a truck will get “stuck”;  when that happens the differential will direct power out to the wheel with the least resistance. Therefore, one wheel will spin if you get stuck (like in a large mud puddle) unless you have the differential lock (diff lock) engaged.

Big rigs have what’s known as a diff lock that helps with traction and driving at slow speeds. On the back of a big truck you will usually have two axles called a set of tandem axles. Both axles in the set of tandem axles have a differential unit on them. On most trucks you will have a single diff lock that will lock up the front axle in the set so all 8 tires in the set will turn in tandem. If you are driving in snowy conditions it is recommended that you put chains on the wheels in the front because that is where the differential (diff) lock is located. When you put a chain on each wheel it will drive the vehicle forward.

Some of the Western Star Trucks will have a diff lock for each axle with two switches on the dashboard of the cab, one for each axle. There will also be an inter-axle diff lock that will lock the axle across each set of tandem axles and will lock in between both sets so all four sets of tires on the back of the semi truck will rotate at the same rate. When the diff lock is on there will not be differential speeds.

It’s important that you do not leave the diff lock on while driving at highway speeds. If you do happen to forget and leave the diff lock on while driving you will possibly wear the tires out faster. One thing to keep in mind is that you should stop the truck or travel at a very slow speed in a straight line when you engage and disengage the diff lock. You do not want to lock the differential gears up while the truck is at speed or turning and the wheels are at different speeds or you are likely to cause damage to the gears.

Cline Wood represents top trucking insurance carriers across the country. We have access to all types of insurance programs. We treat your company as if it were our own. Contact us today to find out how we can help you manage your risk, which directly contributes to your bottom line.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

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Scopelitis June Legislative Trends Newsletter

Posted June 14, 2017 by Erin

Cline Wood works closely with Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary (The Scopelitis Law Firm), a leading Transportation industry law firm. They have been a valuable resource to many of our customers because of their understanding and involvement in the transportation industry.

The Scopelitis Law Firm recognizes that, in order to prepare for potential risks and strategic opportunities, businesses of all sizes must stay informed regarding regulatory and legislative change. This newsletter includes a sampling of noteworthy developments or trends affecting transportation in Congress or the state legislatures during the last two months.

Trends covered in the Scopelitis June Legislative Trends Newsletter include:

  • Scopelitis Law Alert: U.S. DOL Announces Withdrawal of Joint Employment, Independent Contractor Informal Guidance
  • States Seek Infrastructure Funding
  • Lowering Roadblocks to Platooning
  • States React to Gig Economy
  • FY 2018 Presidential Budget
  • DOT Personnel Changes
  • Regulatory Reform
  • Tax Reform
  • FMCSA Withdraws Minimum Insurance Limits Rulemaking
  • Entry-Level Driver Training Rule
  • FMCSA Split-Sleeper Berth Pilot
  • Rescission of USDOL Persuader Rule Submitted to OMB

Find the full version of the newsletter by clicking here. For any additional information on their Firm, please follow Scopelitis on social media, visit their Legislative Services Practice Area page, or contact the Scopelitis legislative team – Greg Feary, Shannon Cohen, or Prasad Sharma – to further explore how they may provide the most well-tailored service for you.


The Scopelitis Legislative Trends Newsletter is intended as a report to clients and friends on legislative developments affecting the transportation industry. The published material does not constitute an exhaustive legal study and should not be regarded or relied upon as individual legal advice or opinion.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

 

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Are Your Drivers Employees or Independent Contractors?

Posted June 13, 2017 by Administrator

In recent years, federal and state entities have engaged in an effort to reclassify independent contractors for motor carriers as employees. Sometimes authorities will conduct preemptive audits on the Department of Labor (DOL) compliance status to determine if companies are in compliance with federal and state labor laws as they apply to worker classification.

In order to ensure your company is in compliance, there are important tests that need to be adhered to when it comes to independent contractors versus employee status. Important tests to know are:

  1. The right to control

The overarching test of the right to control is whether or not the owner-operator controls the manner and means of completing the work. The one caveat to this test is when the control is originating from rules or regulations imposed by the Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) or other entity that governs the trucking industry. External regulatory controls are seen as mutual between the company and the owner-operator and therefore are not a determining factor in whether an individual is an employee or independent contractor.

  1. ABC

The ABC test refers to three parts, listed as “A”, “B”, and “C.” In this test, the DOL has taken the position that most workers in the U.S. are employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA.) The one primary exception to this is if the owner-operator operates under the authority of multiple carriers.

  1. 3. Relative nature of the work

The nature of the work helps to define the relationship. If the work is considered integral to the business, it is more likely that the worker is an employee. Work that is temporary or non-integral may imply independent contractor status.

  1. Economic realities

The economic realities test is something that has been devised by some courts and federal agencies to help businesses determine the differences between an employee and independent contractors. Basically, the economic realities test considers how dependent or independent the worker is on the business. If a person gains a large part of their income from one business then they are likely an employee. Other factors to consider are level of skill, nature of the work, intent of the parties and social security taxes and benefits.

  1. IRS “20 Factor”

Tax liability is determined by the workers’ employment status. In order to help businesses determine whether a worker should be classified as an employee or independent contractor the IRS has devised twenty questions or factors called the “IRS 20 Factor Test on Employment Status.”

It’s critical that motor carriers and owner-operators understand the differences and legal implications of operating as an employee versus an independent contractor. While it may seem attractive to call your drivers owner-operators or independent contractors, it is vitally important that the tests for independent contractors are met if the driver is considered an owner-operator.

An important factor to consider is the right for an individual to sue the company should the driver be involved in an accident. If the driver meets the employee test, damages can be collected from the trucking company. If the driver can be classified as an independent contractor, then the other party in an accident is limited to the amount of damages they can recover from the contractor. The law does not accept the word of an employer in such a matter; the aforementioned tests will be taken into consideration in determining who is liable in the event of an accident.

To learn more about the issues that concern truck drivers today, trucking coverage and risk management, contact the experts at Cline Wood.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

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Smart Agriculture and the Internet of Things (IoT)

Posted June 5, 2017 by Administrator

With the combination of both advanced technologies in hardware and software, the Internet of Things (IoT) is able to track and count almost everything, which can greatly reduce waste, cost and loss for agriculture operations. The IoT will transform the agriculture industry by enabling farmers to find solutions to their challenges faster and more effectively. Innovative applications can be designed to address complex issues and therefore increase the quality, quantity, sustainability and effectiveness of crop production.

Here are some breakthrough examples where agricultural businesses are using the IoT in innovative ways:

  • A cutting-edge greenhouse operation uses the Waspmote Plug and Sense IoT Vertical Kit air quality application. Sensor probes are installed a various points to measure identified parameters. The system is programmed and connected to an XBee network with star topology. Two of the sensor modes send the extracted data to the central node at 15 minute intervals. The data is sent via 3G to a server and stored in an internal memory. The information is then visualized through its web interface. Users can take action by controlling the irrigation system through the web.
  • A farming operation is using the IoT to address its labor shortage. Limited by time, the farmers are unable to monitor and provide the required conditions for plants at certain times such as during the night or emergency conditions. To overcome the limitations of the irrigation system in conventional farming and maintain the crops in their optimum environment for growth in terms of soil moisture and temperature. The model of smart irrigation provides and maintains the optimum conditions for their crops. By growing their crops in an environment with sufficient water supply and ideal temperature, plant quality is improved and the productivity of the field is increased as well. Using electronic devices such as smartphones and remote computers, users can log into the Cloud storage to extract sensor data. Users can monitor the crops and control the water pumps and fans using the control panel of the user interface, which does not have to be located at the farm. Also, being able to supply the water directly to the root of the plant prevents weeds from growing, reducing the need for farm hands to help with weeding. Soil temperature also plays a major role in plant health. Being able to use sensors to measure the soil temperature and remotely switch on fans that will reduce overly heated soil will help keep roots moist and retain nutrients.
  • A small, urban farmer looking for a reliable, innovative solution worked with an IoT platform partner to develop a modular, scalable farm operation. Together, they designed a hydroponic farming model that operates inside of an atmospherically-controlled shipping container that allows for year-round growing to provide local, urban environments with produce 365 days a year. They use a connected product management tool to provide more usability and access in how they interact with the farm. A big advantage of the connectivity platform is in the data collection that indicates how well the freight farms are performing, including optimal conditions, various crops and best practices. The data is being used to help farmers proactively prevent problems and troubleshoot to improve quality control.

By providing and maintaining the ideal environment for the growth of crops using innovative applications of IoT, the productivity of crops can be increased and the goal of ensuring adequate food supplies to feed the estimated human population of 9 billion people by the year 2050 will be achieved.

 

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

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