Viewing posts categorised under: Transportation

FMCSA Releases Final Ruling, Updating HOS Regulations

Posted May 14, 2020 by Erin

May 14, 2020

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today published a final rule on changes to Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations.

FMCSA’s final ruling makes the following changes to the existing HOS rules:
Short Haul Exception: This changes the short-haul exception by lengthening certain drivers’ maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit from 100 to 150 air miles.

Adverse Conditions Exemption: This will modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by 2 hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.

Split Sleeper-Berth: Drivers may now split their required 10 hours off duty into at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper-berth and no less than 2 consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper-berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.

30 Minute Rest Break: This rule increases flexibility, allowing 8 hours of uninterrupted driving time before a driver is required to take a 30 minute break, rather than 8 hours after coming on-duty. The break could also be satisfied by a driver using on duty, not driving status, rather than off duty status.

FMCSA cited flexibility as the driving force behind these changes which will go into effect 120 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register next week. The full ruling is available here, and FMCSA has also released a one-page summary of the ruling and a side by side comparison of the new and previous HOS regulations.

Diversification: A COVID-19 survival tactic for transportation companies

Posted May 13, 2020 by Erin

Trucking companies in the energy sector are directly feeling the effects of the ongoing oil war and the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses are being forced to park their trucks and face potential closure, or to consider diversifying their businesses overnight. Switching the primary function of a trucking business, for example from the energy world into the dry freight world, can be very challenging. Without the proper training and technology, diversification can be very difficult to achieve on your own. Many trucking companies are asking, “What do we do?” our MMA teams have been working to find solutions to help clients keep their doors open and their drivers working. Below are several options to take into consideration if your business is looking into new ventures.

Consider Diversifying

“Diversification. It is a tactic trucking companies have been embracing for a while now, as less-than-truckload companies get into truckload, truckload companies get into intermodal or warehousing, and everyone, it seems, is getting into logistics. Dry van fleets launch or buy flatbed or refrigerated divisions and vice-versa. Some companies are even branching out into real estate and solar power. MMA has seen it on a smaller scale, as well. A livestock hauler, for instance, who branched out into selling trailers. On the other hand, there is also the need to diversify the types of customers you have, as many flatbed companies learned the hard way when the housing and auto manufacturing markets both tanked. A headlong rush into diversification may not be the right move for every company, remember to “look deeply” at new ideas, to “do a deep dive” on an exciting new trend. In other words, don’t get so excited about new diversification opportunities that you forget to do your homework.”¹

For motor carriers entering sectors involved in the transportation of food, human or animal, or hazardous materials, there are additional regulatory requirements.  Food transportation requires additional training for drivers as mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Hazardous materials transportation involves significant increases in registrations, insurance and training requirements. To learn more about hazardous materials and food transportation diversification specifics, click HERE. Your MMA Risk Consultant can guide you through these regulatory requirements if you pursue such new business.

Reach out

Leverage your network of trucking industry coaches and specialists to help guide you. Work closely with your brokers, counsel and other advisors to work through the impacts of this crisis. Recently, MMA Insurance Consultant Skip Wombolt, reached out to longtime client, Artur Express, who specializes in dry van freight, hauling clothing, groceries and other essential goods for recommendations and assistance based on their experience. For this sector, business is booming, the demand is high and drivers with power units are needed. Artur welcomed the idea of picking up drivers and trucks to help haul the abundance of loads they are receiving. Sharing this collaboration as an option was an effective solution for keeping trucks and drivers productive. MMA was able to collaborate and assist over 13 trucking companies and keep 200+ trucks and drivers on the road. Through a simple client-to-client introduction, MMA has helped trucking clients stay in business and profitable during this challenging time. The collaboration facilitated by MMA, has allowed trucking companies work together instead of competing against each other. MMA was available in the moments that matter and has enjoyed being able to help them succeed as a true business partner, not just their insurance agent. By working together, building partnerships, building trust and building confidence, we can create a more perfectly balanced transportation network. One that will be better able to handle the ups and downs and the ins and outs of our industry.

Source: ¹ https://www.truckinginfo.com/158654/diversification-diligence

Author: Skip Wombolt

New Aid Package Replenishes Paycheck Protection Program

Posted April 24, 2020 by Erin

President Donald Trump today signed a $484 billion coronavirus relief package, the latest effort by the federal government to help businesses devastated by the pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which was approved by the Senate earlier this week and overwhelmingly passed by the House yesterday afternoon, will inject $310 billion back into the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The latest relief comes less than a month after the CARES Act allocated $349 billion to the PPP, a federal forgivable loan program created to help small businesses keep workers employed during the coronavirus crisis. The Trump administration and lawmakers have been under pressure to replenish the program after it quickly ran out of funds and was forced to shut down last week.

About $60 billion of the new PPP funding has been specifically earmarked for community lenders, smaller banks and credit unions to help smaller businesses that don’t have established relationships with big banks, and had a harder time obtaining loans in the first round.

The new package also includes $60 billion more for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, a separate SBA program offering economic relief, $25 billion for expanded coronavirus testing, and $75 billion for hospitals.

The SBA says that it has already approved over 1.66 million PPP loans, and nearly 27,000 EIDL loans and over 750,000 EIDL advances. As with the first round, these new funds are expected to run out quickly. Therefore, businesses that wish to take advantage of the PPP or EIDL programs, should act immediately. Borrowers may use this tool to find a nearby SBA lender.

Source: Lancer Insurance Company | Click HERE to view Lancer’s video “Applying for the Paycheck Protection Program”

Click HERE to watch a playback of MMA’s CARES Act Overview Webinar

Click HERE to view all of MMA’s Coronavirus Resources

Federal Regulators Exempt Expired TWIC Cards through July 31st

Posted April 17, 2020 by Erin

The Transportation Security Administration has granted a temporary exemption for the expiration of Transportation Worker Identification Credentials through July 31 for cards that expired after March 1.

The temporary exemption, announced April 14, is intended to minimize the spread of COVID-19 during the nationwide emergency.

The exemption became effective April 10.

“During this time, it is vital to move cargo expeditiously through the supply chain, and to ensure that medical supplies and home goods reach health care centers and consumers,” said the TSA announcement. “Maritime facilities and vessels are an integral part of the supply chain and must continue to operate at full capacity.”

TSA regulations require truck drivers and other transportation workers who seek unescorted access to secured areas of maritime facilities and vessels to undergo a security threat assessment conducted by the agency to receive a TWIC.

A TWIC expires five years from the date of issuance, and individuals must go to a TSA enrollment center to initiate a new security threat assessment to receive a new credential.

TWIC applicants also are required to provide proof of identity and fingerprints at approved enrollment sites, designated and operated by TSA trusted agents.

There are nearly 2.3 million active TWIC cards in circulation, TSA said. TSA records show that 234,536, or approximately 10% of the total, will expire in the next six months.

“Social distancing practices in response to the COVID-19 crisis make gathering at enrollment centers unwise or prohibited,” TSA said. Approximately one-third of TSA’s TWIC enrollment centers have been forced to close because they are collocated with commercial or government offices that are closed as a result of COVID-19. For those that are operating, the process of collecting fingerprints and completing the enrollment process “may introduce risk to enrollment center staff or TWIC applicants,” TSA said.

During the extension period, the agency said it will continue to recurrently vet exempted TWIC holders against federal terrorism and national security-related watch lists, and a Department of Homeland Security system for security threats, criminal history and immigration status checks.

 

Source: Transportation Security Administration. Read the full Exemption Notice here: https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/esvp_twic_exemption-faqs-notice_4_14_20.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.

OSHA Releases Guidance Determining COVID-19 as a Recordable Illness

Posted April 17, 2020 by Erin

Last Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an enforcement guidance with details on how employers should record occupational illnesses, specifically cases of the COVID-19. In areas where there is ongoing community transmission, employers – other than those in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations and correctional institutions – may have difficulty determining whether workers contracted COVID-19 due to exposures at work. In light of those difficulties, OSHA is exercising enforcement discretion in order to provide certainty to the regulated community.

OSHA has determined that under its recordkeeping requirements in 29 CFR § 1904.5, COVID-19 is a recordable illness and employers are responsible for recording cases of the disease, if: the case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR § 1904.5; and the case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR § 1904.7.

The American Feed Industry Association expects that it will be difficult for companies to determine whether a case of COVID-19 is work-related as defined by 29 CFR § 1904.5. However, until further notice, OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR § 1904 to require other employers to make the same work-related determinations, except where:

  • There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related. This could include, for example, a number of cases developing among workers who work closely together without an alternative explanation; and
  • The evidence was reasonably available to the employer. For purposes of this memorandum, examples of “reasonably available evidence” include information given to the employer by employees, as well as information that an employer learns regarding its employees’ health and safety in the ordinary course of managing its business and employees. This enforcement policy should help employers focus their response efforts on implementing good hygiene practices in their workplaces and otherwise mitigating COVID-19’s effects, rather than on making difficult work-related decisions in circumstances where there is community transmission. If it is determined that a case is work-related, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and should be coded as such on the OSHA Form 300. Because this is an illness, if an employee voluntarily requests that his or her name not be entered on the log, the employer must comply as specified under 29 CFR § 1904.29(b)(7)(vi).

This memorandum will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice. This guidance is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis. Visit OSHA’s webpage frequently for updates.

 

Article Source: Kansas Grain and Feed Association. Originally Published by the American Feed Industry Association

DOT Audits are still being conducted remotely – How can you prepare?

Posted April 10, 2020 by Erin

In spite of the almost universal shutdown of our national economy, the FMCSA, and Texas DPS, are still actively conducting regulatory audits. Fortunately, as of right now, all audits are being conducted remotely via email and phone calls. That does not eliminate the seriousness of the audit, but it does relieve you of the added pressure of having a government regulator sitting in your office for a week.

So, what do you do if you receive notice of an audit?  The following steps have proven to be an effective response framework for most motor carriers.

 

  1. Organize Your Audit Response Team

Get your most effective team members organized to manage the audit response. This team should have clear authority from senior leadership. Senior leadership should communicate with any and all department heads to clarify the purpose and role of the audit response team in assessing and responding to the audit. This is not the time for departmental silos, compartmentalization of information, or managers being territorial.

 

  1. Facts are Critical

The audit response team should be focused on gathering facts. Your HOS records for the past 6 months are what they are. But, you must know what they are. Discover the truth within each area of your operations with compassion and empathy toward coworkers, but do not let the hurt feelings push you away from accurately assessing the current state of your business operations.

 

  1. Free Up the Audit Response Team

Senior leadership needs to clear other non-critical responsibilities from the audit response team so they can be present and available to effectively respond to the auditor.

 

  1. Take Ownership

We will respond to the audit findings through a high-quality Corrective Action Plan. However, senior leadership needs to take absolute ownership for those findings. Great leaders do not point fingers.

 

  1. Be Present for Audit Opening and Closing

If the audit is serious, you may need to postpone your business trips and your golf outings. It is most important for you as a leader to be present for the audit opening and closing if it is an on-site Compliance Review.  This is when real leadership is manifested.

 

For more information or if you have questions, please reach out to your Cline Wood, a Marsh & McLennan Agency representative.

4.8 Regulatory Update – FMCSA Emergency Declaration Expanded

Posted April 9, 2020 by Erin

Late yesterday afternoon, FMCSA further expanded the nationwide Emergency Declaration. Key changes include:

1.  Extends the expiration date of the Emergency Declaration to May 15, 2020. 

2. Added Liquified Gases used for refrigeration and cooling to the list of commodities covered by the Emergency Declaration. 

3. Requires a motor carrier, whose driver is involved in a crash while operating under this emergency declaration, to report any recordable crash within 24 hours, by phone or in writing, to the FMCSA Division Office where the motor carrier is domiciled. The carrier must report the date, time, location, driver, vehicle identification, and brief description of the crash.

If you have any questions about these changes, or any other activities covered by the Emergency Declaration, please reach out to your Cline Wood, a Marsh & McLennan Agency representative. 

The full text of the declaration can be found at the following site:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/2020-04/ExtensionofEmergencyDeclaration2020-002.pdf

 

FMCSA’s Latest Actions in Response to COVID-19

Posted March 30, 2020 by Erin

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) continues to issue waivers, notices and guidance regarding compliance issues related to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

The latest actions include:

·    Frequently Asked Questions Related to the FMCSA Emergency Declaration Part 2: 03/25/2020 – A guidance that provides further clarity related to the National Emergency Declaration

·    FMCSA CDL Waiver from Certain Regulations (March 24, 2020) – A waiver from certain regulations applicable to interstate and intrastate commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders and to other interstate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) until June 30, 2020

·    FMCSA Enforcement Notice on Expiring CDLs (March 24, 2020) – A notice of enforcement policy, effective from March 24, 2020 to June 30, 2020, for CLP holders, CDL holders, and non-CDL drivers and motor carriers using those drivers, regarding expiring driver’s licenses and medical examiner’s certificates

·    FMCSA COVID-19 Drug & Alcohol Testing Guidance – A guidance for FMCSA-regulated employers regarding drug and alcohol testing disrupted by COVID-19

All FMCSA waivers, notices and guidance related to COVID-19 can be accessed on the agency’s website.

FMCSA officials held a conference call 3.26.20 with ATA officials. The attached pdf summarizes the content of that call. FMCSA Emergency Declaration Conference Call 3.25.20 ATA Summary

Business Diversification Ideas

Posted March 27, 2020 by Erin

Some of you are considering diversification of your business into sectors of trucking you have not previously operated in. I applaud your efforts. I have fielded multiple questions this week concerning two such sectors—HazMat and food transportation.

There are several regulatory requirements unique to these sectors you need to be aware of as follows:

HazMat Transportation

  1. Drivers must have a HazMat endorsement on their CDL to transport any HazMat load which requires placards.
  2. Drivers must have regulatory required HazMat training prior to transporting any HazMat loads.
  3. The motor carrier must be registered with FMCSA as a Hazardous Materials carrier.
  4. Transportation of certain HazMat loads requires an additional FMCSA HazMat Safety Permit and a written Hazardous Materials Security Plan.
  5. Drivers pulling any bulk trailers, with a water capacity greater than 119 gallons will need a tank endorsement on their CDL.

Food Transportation

  1. The safe transportation of human and animal food is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  2. Drivers transporting most human and animal food must complete the FDA training module per the Sanitary Transportation Rule.
  3. Drivers pulling any bulk trailers, with a water capacity greater than 119 gallons will need a tank endorsement on their CDL. This would include milk trailers and any food grade non-HazMat tank trailers.

 

Please let me know if you have any questions about these requirements or need any additional assistance.

Driver Safety Recommendations

Posted March 27, 2020 by Erin

There is a fear rippling through the trucking industry that a majority of drivers may eventually become sick with the Coronavirus. While most of us are at home avoiding contact with others, drivers are still out in society working hard to continue to deliver the supplies and goods we all need. The danger for drivers is when they come into contact with others during pickup and delivery and, probably the greatest danger, when they stop to get fuel and eat. Truck stops offer the greatest risk of exposure to most drivers. From the handle of the fuel nozzle, to the store door knob, to the shower, to the packaging their food comes in, drivers are potentially exposed to the virus on a variety of surfaces Please remind your drivers of the following safety and health recommendations:

  • 1. Avoid gatherings of more than ten people.
  • 2. Practice social distancing by keeping a distance of about six feet from others if you must go out in public.
  • 3. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • 4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • 5. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • 6. Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • 7. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; throw used tissues in the trash. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve, not your hands.
  • 8. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
  • 9. If surfaces are dirty, clean them – use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • 10. Wear a facemask if you are sick. You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.