Fall 2010 Volume 49

Feature Articles

Investing In A Drug-Free Workplace

How much does substance abuse cost your organization? According to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University, the economic burden of substance abuse to the U.S. economy is estimated at $414 billion each year. “Anything your organization can do to curtail drug usage in the workplace is a sound investment,” comments EMC Senior Engineer Jim Stotser, who offers the following advice to policyholders:

Start With A Drug-Free Workplace Policy

"A written policy is the foundation for a drug-free workplace program," advises Stotser. It should state why it is being implemented, give a clear description of prohibited behaviors, explain when drug tests will be given and by whom, and explain the consequences for violating the policy. Jim suggests employers seek legal counsel to review the policy.

Supervisor Training Is A Must

Supervisors serve as a front line for a drug-free workplace by monitoring and documenting employees’ performance. “They should be aware of the drug abuse policy and know what steps to follow,” adds Stotser.

Employee Education

All employees must sign a document acknowledging their understanding of the policy and their willingness to abide by the terms of the policy. Employee education sessions can also cover general information about addiction and the types of help available for individuals.

Providing Assistance

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are an employee benefit that can be offered in conjunction with health insurance plans. They offer an alternative to dismissals and minimize an employer’s legal vulnerability by demonstrating efforts to support employees.

EMC Can Help Maximize Your Investment In A Drug-Free Workplace

EMC loss control specialists can work with you to develop a written policy, identify testing and EAP resources in your community, and provide support with supervisor and employee training. You can find additional information about drug-free workplace programs in the Loss Control section of EMC’s website, www.emcins.com.

According to the American Council For Drug Education, substance abusers are:

  • 10 times more likely to miss work
  • 3.6 times more likely to be involved in on-the-job accidents and 5 times more likely to injure themselves or another in the process
  • 5 times more likely to file a workers’ compensation claim
  • 33% less productive
  • Responsible for healthcare costs that are 3 times as high as those of nonabusers

Proper Disposal Of Pesticides
“State and local laws regarding pesticide disposal may be stricter than the federal requirements on the label. Be sure to check with your state or local agencies before disposing of your pesticide containers.” This is just one of several tips the Environmental Protection Agency offers for the safe disposal of pesticides. For the entire list of tips, visit www.epa.gov/pesticides/regulating/disposal.htm.

Occupational Lead Exposure Update
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has redesigned its web page for easier and faster access to pertinent information on how to prevent hazards associated with lead. Workplace lead exposure can occur in a variety of industries and can result in heart disease, kidney disease and impairment of the brain or nervous system. If you have concerns about lead exposure, visit www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/lead/.

FEMA Launches Mobile Website
With mobile devices becoming a crucial lifeline to provide information to survivors after a disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) launched a mobile website for smart phones. Laid out in a question-and-answer format, the site outlines what to do during and after a disaster, where to find assistance and what can be done to help others. Check it out at http://m.fema.gov/.

Because of their day-to-day contact with employees, supervisors are probably the best source of information regarding potential cases of drug abuse in the workplace. However, supervisors must be trained to identify the signs and symptoms of drug abuse, which may be identical to other medical conditions.

Supervisors Are The Front Line In Spotting Potential Drug Abuse Problems

The American Council for Drug Education warns that abusers in the workplace can be difficult to identify, but there are some clues that signal possible drug and alcohol problems. These include:

  • Frequent, prolonged and often unexplained absences
  • Involvement in accidents both on and off the job
  • Erratic work patterns and reduced productivity
  • Indifference to personal hygiene
  • Overreaction to real or imagined criticism
  • Such overt physical signs as exhaustion or hyperactivity, dilated pupils, slurred speech or an unsteady walk

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America provides the following clues for specific drugs:

Signs Of Alcohol Intoxication

Slurred speech or difficulty expressing a thought intelligibly, lack of coordination, poor balance, inability to focus eyes, red eyes, flushed face, morning headaches, nausea, weakness, sweatiness, odor of alcohol on breath or in sweat.

Signs Of Marijuana Use

Bloodshot eyes (or bottles of eye drops to clear up red eyes), smell in hair or on clothing (sweet, pungent odor), lip wetting or excessive thirst, burned or sooty fingers.

Signs Of Cocaine Use

Jumpy or nervous behavior, restlessness, excessive talkativeness, rapid speech, dilated pupils (enlarged) in well-lit room, runny or bloody nose (no cold or other illness associated), periods of high energy followed by long sleep or exhaustion.

Signs Of Amphetamine Use

Unusual elation (manic), restlessness, fast speech (possibly incoherent), poor appetite and/or weight loss, hyperactivity, insomnia, periods of sleeplessness followed by long periods of “catch up” sleep, poor attention span.

Signs Of Inhalant Use

Aggressive or hostile behavior, inability to focus, slow movement, slurred speech, seizures, lack of coordination, vomiting. In addition to being aware of the signs of drug abuse, supervisors must also be aware of your drug abuse policy and what to do when they suspect an employee has a drug problem.

Fire extinguishers are only valuable if employees are trained in their proper use and handling. The most important part of this training is to instruct employees that if they are ever unsure of their ability to fight a fire, they should call 911 and evacuate the area immediately. Training should also inform employees of specific fire hazards and the locations of extinguishers in the facility, as well as give the employee hands-on experience with the extinguisher.

Hands-On Training Should Describe The PASS System Of Fire Extinguisher Use Fire Extinguisher Training Is A Four-Letter Word—PASS

  1. PULL - Pull the pin. This will break the tamper seal.
  2. AIM - Aim low, pointing the extinguisher nozzle (or its horn or hose) at the base of the fire.
  3. SQUEEZE - Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent.
  4. SWEEP - Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be out. Watch the area. If the fire reignites, repeat steps 2-4.

Other Topics

Updates to EMC’s Safety Video Library on www.emcins.com make finding just the right training video easier than ever. A straightforward format and new tools help commercial policyholders search more effectively, know when a video is available, reserve videos up to 12 months in advance, and view order history, favorite videos and more.

Visit the Safety Video Library page to start browsing for videos by category, industry or keyword. Users can also narrow search results by video type (DVD, VHS) and language (English, Spanish, Portuguese).

On the Job with Jim Stotser

When can you require employees to take a drug test? “As long as it is noted in your drug-free policy, you can typically test at any time,” says EMC Senior Engineer Jim Stotser, who gives the following most common circumstances under which an organization may require a drug test:

  • Pre-Employment - Typically takes place after a conditional offer of employment has been made.
  • Reasonable Suspicion - Conducted when supervisors document observable signs and symptoms leading them to suspect drug use.
  • Post-Accident - Used to determine whether alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in property damage or personal injury.
  • Random - Unannounced and unpredictable testing by randomly selecting individuals from a pool of employees.
  • Periodic - Scheduled in advance and uniformly administered.
  • Return-To-Duty - One-time, announced test when an employee who has tested positive has completed the required treatment and is ready to return to the workplace.

Federal and state drug testing laws vary, so consult your legal advisor before beginning any drug testing program.

If you have suggestions for articles to appear in EMC’s Loss Control Insights, we’d like to hear from you. Tell us about some of the loss control challenges your organization faces. Share some of your loss control best practices. Send us a question that you’ve been struggling with. Your insights will help make our Insights even better. Send your ideas, suggestions and questions to losscontrol@emcins.com.



Insights Online

Employers involved in safety-sensitive transportation play a vital role in ensuring the safety of their employees and the traveling public. As such, they are responsible for developing and implementing successful DOT workplace drug and alcohol programs that comply with 49 CFR Part 40 and applicable DOT agency requirements. Download a PDF of the DOT brochure What Employers Need To Know About DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing.

Schools

When reported incidents of bullying go unheeded and the targeted children and anguished parents see no progress being made by a school to curtail the problems, the growing response is to pursue litigation. Recent court decisions demonstrate the importance of protecting your district from costly legal settlements.

"Those kids picked on me again." What do parents do when they hear these or similar words from their child? Beyond the visceral reaction of wanting to protect their child, the angst of many parents drives them to try to find ways to get help. Many parents turn to the schools to resolve the conflicts or at least implement safeguards to minimize or prevent the bullying. For the most part, schools want to intervene effectively, but often are reluctant or not sure how to create safe school environments.

However, when the reported incidents of bullying go unheeded and the targeted children and anguished parents see no progress being made by schools to curtail the problems, the growing response is to pursue litigation. Recently, a court in Michigan ruled that the Hudson Area School District did not do enough to stop a student from bullying another. The court awarded the bullied student $800,000 in damages. Essentially, the federal court ruled that schools could be held responsible for what students do, if there is a pattern of harassment, or if they don’t do enough to provide a safe environment.

In Lynn, Massachusetts, another set of parents are suing the city for $35 million, claiming it failed to protect their son from a school bully who allegedly shoved him down a staircase, leaving him wheelchair-bound. Doug Sheff, one of the family’s attorneys, said, “Hopefully, schools will see there is not only a moral obligation, but a financial one, to address bullying when it’s brought to their attention.

Also gaining a foothold in court are cyberbullying cases in which children who have been bullied online are bringing litigation against the perpetrators. In Southern California, the 2nd District Court of Appeals recently ruled that threats posted on a teen’s website are not protected free speech. The teen set up his website to promote his interests in movies and music. Schoolmates, including some who thought that the boy was gay, left messages that threatened to pound his head in with an ice pick and to rip out his heart and feed it to him.

Tragically, in Georgia, the parents of a special-needs student who allegedly hung himself because he could no longer tolerate being bullied at school have filed a federal lawsuit against their son’s principal and school district.

Unfortunately, lawsuits will not result in any real “winners.” The pain of the targeted children and their parents cannot be fully mitigated by courts finding in their favor. Any monetary damages awarded will be locked in ongoing appeals that will surface more charges, counter-charges and probably years of painful conflict.

Unfortunately for schools already strapped for resources by extreme budget cuts, the cost of litigation drains their already stressed coffers. How much better spent those lawyers’ and court fees would have been if school administrators had invested in programs such as Community Matters’ Safe School Ambassadors Program. The Safe School Ambassadors Program wakes up the courage of young people to speak up and intervene on behalf of their peers, resulting in fewer incidents that can lead to tragedies.

Reprinted with permission of Community Matters. For additional information, visit www.community-matters.org.

What Can Schools Do To Prevent Bullying?

There is much that can and should be done by schools to prevent bullying. Schools should take bullying seriously and demonstrate to students that bullying and other forms of harassment and intimidation will not be tolerated. The following tips are courtesy of the National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention:

  • Develop and implement safe school policies and plans that specifically address bullying
  • Explicitly include bullying in school discipline codes and enforce those codes fairly and consistently
  • Choose and implement violence prevention and health promotion curricula that include bullying prevention
  • Create a school culture in which students and staff know that bullying is wrong and will not be tolerated, and in which students and staff will report bullying to counselors and other staff who will take action
  • Provide mental health or counseling services or referrals for both victims and perpetrators of bullying
  • Implement training for teachers, administrators, guidance counselors and school nurses on how to recognize and respond to bullying
  • Educate parents in the signs of bullying and involve them in bullying prevention activities

More than 60% of early childhood and primary education teachers experience voice problems, according to research from the University of Malaga in Spain. The Voice Academy offers some helpful tips to prevent such problems.

In a profession where communication between teacher and learner is key, a teacher's voice problems can grind the learning process to a screeching halt. Damaged or fatigued voices are often low-pitched, hoarse, rough and difficult to understand.

Unfortunately, voice problems among school teachers are common. Teachers are a whopping 32 times more likely to report voice difficulties than people in other jobs, according to a recent study. Yet experts estimate that 75 percent of these problems can be prevented or self-managed if teachers have access to cutting-edge research and medical information.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) offers the following tips to prevent voice problems:

  • Limit your intake of drinks that include alcohol or caffeine. These act as diuretics (substances that increase urination) and cause the body to lose water. This loss of fluids dries out the voice. Alcohol also irritates the mucous membranes that line the throat.
  • Drink plenty of water-six to eight glasses a day is recommended.
  • Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke. Cancer of the vocal folds is seen most often in individuals who smoke.
  • Practice good breathing techniques when singing or talking. It is important to support your voice with deep breaths from the diaphragm, the wall that separates your chest and abdomen. Singers and speakers are often taught exercises that improve this breath control. Talking from the throat, without supporting breath, puts a great strain on the voice.
  • Avoid eating spicy foods. Spicy foods can cause stomach acid to move into the throat or esophagus (reflux).
  • Use a humidifier in your home. This is especially important in winter or in dry climates. Thirty percent humidity is recommended.
  • Try not to overuse your voice. Avoid speaking or singing when your voice is hoarse.
  • Wash your hands often to prevent colds and flu.
  • Include plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables in your diet. These foods contain vitamins A, E and C. They also help keep the mucus membranes that line the throat healthy.
  • Do not cradle the phone when talking. Cradling the phone between the head and shoulder for extended periods of time can cause muscle tension in the neck.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise increases stamina and muscle tone. This helps provide good posture and breathing, which are necessary for proper speaking.
  • Get enough rest. Physical fatigue has a negative effect on voice.
  • Avoid talking in noisy places. Trying to talk above noise causes strain on the voice.
  • Avoid mouthwash or gargles that contain alcohol or irritating chemicals. If you still wish to use a mouthwash that contains alcohol, limit your use to oral rinsing. If gargling is necessary, use a salt water solution.
  • Avoid using mouthwash to treat persistent bad breath. Halitosis (bad breath) may be the result of a problem that mouthwash can’t cure, such as low grade infections in the nose, sinuses, tonsils, gums or lungs, as well as from gastric reflux from the stomach.
  • Consider using a microphone. In relatively static environments such as exhibit areas, classrooms, or exercise rooms, a lightweight microphone and an amplifier-speaker system can be of great help.
  • Consider voice therapy. A speech-language pathologist who is experienced in treating voice problems can provide education on healthy use of the voice and instruction in proper voice techniques.

Reprinted with permission of the Voice Academy
www.voiceacademy.org

Local Governments

Four-person firefighter crews were able to effectively handle residential firefighting and rescue operations 30% faster than two-person crews and 25% faster than three-person crews, according to controlled fire experiments conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

A landmark study issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows that the size of firefighting crews has a substantial effect on the fire service’s ability to protect lives and property in residential fires.

Performed by a broad coalition in the scientific, firefighting and public-safety communities, the study found that four-person firefighting crews were able to complete 22 essential firefighting and rescue tasks in a typical residential structure 30% faster than two-person crews and 25% faster than three-person crews. The report is the first to quantify the effects of crew sizes and arrival times on the fire service’s lifesaving and firefighting operations for residential fires. Until now, little scientific data has been available.

"The results from this rigorous scientific study on the most common and deadly fires in the country-those in single-family residences-provide quantitative data to fire chiefs and public officials responsible for determining safe staffing levels, station locations and appropriate funding for community and firefighter safety," said NIST’s Jason Averill, one of the study’s principal investigators.

The four-person crews were able to deliver water to a similar-sized fire 15% faster than the two-person crews and 6% faster than three-person crews, steps that help to reduce property damage and lower danger to the firefighters. “Fire risks grow exponentially. Each minute of delay is critical to the safety of the occupants and firefighters and is directly related to property damage,” said Averill, who leads NIST’s Engineered Fire Safety Group within its Building and Fire Research Laboratory.

"Our experiments directly address two primary objectives of the fire service: extinguishing the fire and rescuing occupants," said Lori Moore-Merrell of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and a principal investigator on the study.

The four-person crews were able to complete search and rescue 30% faster than two-person crews and 5% faster than three-person crews, Moore-Merrell explained. Five-person crews were faster than four-person crews in several key tasks. The benefits of five-person crews have also been documented by other researchers for fires in medium- and high-hazard structures, such as high-rise buildings, commercial properties, factories and warehouses.

This study explored fires in a residential structure, where the vast majority of fatal fires occur. The researchers built a “low-hazard” structure as described in National Fire Protection Association Standard 1710 (NFPA 1710), a consensus standard that provides guidance on the deployment of career firefighters. The two-story, 2,000-square foot test facility was constructed at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy in Rockville, Md. Fire crews from Montgomery County, and Fairfax County, Va, responded to live fires within this facility.

NIST researchers and their collaborators conducted more than 60 controlled fire experiments to determine the relative effects of crew size, the arrival time of the first fire crews, and the “stagger,” or spacing, between the arrivals of successive waves of firefighting apparatus (vehicles and equipment). The stagger time simulates the typically later arrival of crews from more distant stations as compared to crews from more nearby stations.

Crews of two, three, four and five firefighters were timed as they performed 22 standard firefighting and rescue tasks to extinguish a live fire in the test facility. Those standard tasks included occupant search and rescue, time to put water on fire, and laddering and ventilation. Apparatus arrival time, the stagger between apparatus, and crew sizes were varied.

The United States Fire Administration reported that 403,000 residential structure fires killed close to 3,000 people in 2008-accounting for approximately 84% of all fire deaths-and injured about 13,500. Direct costs from these fires were about $8.5 billion. Annually, firefighter deaths have remained steady at around 100, while tens of thousands more are injured.

Researchers also performed simulations using NIST’s Fire Dynamic Simulator to examine how the interior conditions change for trapped occupants and the firefighters if the fire develops more slowly or more rapidly than observed in the actual experiments. The fire modeling simulations demonstrated that two-person, late-arriving crews can face a fire that is twice the intensity of the fire faced by five-person, early-arriving crews. Additionally, the modeling demonstrated that trapped occupants receive less exposure to toxic combustion products-such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide-if the firefighters arrive earlier and involve three or more persons per crew.

"The results of the field experiments apply only to fires in low-hazard residential structures as described in the NFPA Standard 1710, but it provides a strong starting point,” said Moore-Merrell. “Future research could extend the findings of the report to quantify the effects of crew size and apparatus arrival times in medium- and high-hazard structures," she said.

Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Results of a survey of paramedics showed that 22% of respondents experienced at least one blood exposure in the previous year. Find out what the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention suggest to prevent such exposures.

Patient care puts paramedics at risk of exposure to blood. These exposures carry the risk of infection from bloodborne pathogens such as hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. A national survey of 2,664 paramedics contributed new information about their risk of exposure to blood and identified opportunities to control exposures and prevent infections.

Survey Findings

  • Twenty-two percent of all the paramedics surveyed had at least one exposure to blood in the previous year. The national sharps injury rate for paramedics was also high compared with most hospital workers. Also, exposure of broken skin to blood was extremely high among paramedics.
  • Eighty percent of needlesticks involved non-safety devices. The main predictor for use of safety devices was whether employers provided them. Many paramedics said they needed more training in the use of safety devices.
  • Major factors for eye and nose exposures to blood included: the patient vomited, spit or coughed; the patient was uncooperative, combative or being resuscitated; or the blood/body fluid splashed.
  • Although more than 80% of paramedics said their employers provided safety goggles and face/surgical masks, most splashes to the eye or nose occurred when protection was not used.
  • Most exposures to broken skin were on the hand, but one third were on the arm.
  • One-fifth of paramedics said they needed more training in how to use PPE, and one-fourth said they needed better designed PPE or additional PPE to protect themselves.
  • Forty percent of exposures to broken skin happened when a patient was being extricated from an enclosed space.
  • Paramedics had significantly fewer exposures to blood if their supervisors emphasized following Universal/Standard Precautions and if paramedics were evaluated on the safety procedures.
  • Only 72% of needlesticks, 29% of exposures to broken skin and 49% of exposures overall were reported to employers. The most common reason paramedics gave for not reporting an exposure was that they did not consider it a significant exposure.
  • Survey results suggested paramedics were less likely to report needlesticks if they thought the exposure was their own fault.

Recommendations For Employers

  • Show employees that safety is a core value in your organization. Require workers to follow all safety procedures and include this in their job performance evalu-ations.
  • Train employees about bloodborne pathogens, safe work practices, the proper use of safety devices and PPE, and other topics required by the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard [29 CFR 1910.1030]. Include the opportunity for questions and answers with the trainer.
  • Have a written exposure control plan and update it annually.
  • Provide effective medical safety devices and involve frontline workers in their selection.
  • Provide appropriate PPE and encourage its use. PPE includes gloves; impermeable clothing; face shields or surgical face masks and eye protection; and mouthpieces, resuscitation bags, pocket masks or other ventilation devices.
  • Develop effective techniques for extricating patients from enclosed places, handling combative or uncooperative patients, and avoiding vomitus.
  • Encourage workers to report all blood or body fluid exposures. Identify and address any barriers or attitudes that discourage reporting.
  • Review exposures to identify patterns and opportunities for prevention. Inform workers of the findings.
  • Implement a procedure for post exposure evaluation and follow-up.
  • Offer free hepatitis B virus vaccinations, and encourage workers to get vaccinated.

Nationally, paramedics have high rates of occupational exposure to blood. Lower exposure rates among California paramedics, where a needlestick prevention law already existed, and among most hospital workers suggest that practical steps can be taken to effectively reduce exposures. This includes always providing and using appro-priate safety devices and PPE and promoting adherence to safety procedures. These steps will help protect the health of paramedics, their co-workers and family members, and the general public.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Contractors

According to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse, each year, nearly 1,000 people lose their lives in highway-construction-zone-related accidents. The Federal Highway Administration recently released a collection of work zone safety training materials and guides to help reduce this number.

Where can you find available work zone safety training provided by states, universities and safety organizations? A new resource released by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) can give you the answer. Organized into nine categories, including intelligent transportation systems, nighttime operations, law enforcement and worker safety, the collection of work and safety training materials and guides can be found at www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/outreach/wz_ training/index.htm.

In 2008, 720 workers and motorists were killed in highway work zones and more than 40,000 were injured. Eighty-five percent of those killed in work zones were drivers or their passengers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System. FHA is not the only organization addressing this topic.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers the following tips on their Work Zone Traffic Safety Quick Card:

  • Traffic control devices, signals and message boards should instruct drivers to follow paths away from where work is being done. Work zones need traffic controls identified by signs, cones, barrels and barriers.
  • Various concrete, water, sand, collapsible barriers, crash cushions and truck-mounted attenuators can help limit motorist intrusions into construction work zones.
  • Flaggers should wear high visibility clothing made of retroreflective material with a fluorescent background.
  • Drivers should be warned with signs that there will be flaggers ahead. Flaggers should use STOP/SLOW paddles, paddles with lights, or flags (only in emergencies).
  • Lighting for employees on foot and for equipment operators should be at least 5-foot candles or greater. Where available lighting is not sufficient, flares or chemical lighting should be used.
  • Seat belts and rollover protection should be used on equipment and vehicles as the manufacturer recommends.

As a result of construction crews implementing these and other work zone safety strategies, the number of work zone fatalities has decreased in the United States every year since 2002 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System).

Learn whether or not your pickup meets the commercial motor vehicle definition. If it does, whoever drives this vehicle must be completely qualified under Part 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

In order to understand how and when some of your company’s smaller vehicles suddenly become commercial motor vehicles (CVM), which would place them and the drivers under DOT regulations, consider the following:

Commerce involves anything that is the furtherance of business, such as hauling supplies and tools to and from a worksite, dropping off workers, or just visiting a worksite during the course of business. Even if you are not hauling freight for someone else, you can still be considered a private motor carrier.

The weight of the pickup truck, the load, and trailer are included in the 10,001 pounds or greater threshold of the general commercial motor vehicle definition found in FMCSR, Part 390.5 (a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating [GVWR] or Gross Combination Weight Rating [GCWR] is 10,001 pounds or greater).

Also, any size vehicle (no matter how small) hauling hazardous materials in quantities requiring placards is defined as a commercial motor vehicle. An intrastate operation may be subject to a different CMV definition and safety regulations, depending upon the state. In Minnesota the rule is stated: “over 10,000 pounds.”

Even if the trailer is only a small utility trailer, if it places you at the 10,001 pounds or greater combination weight rating, you are now operating a CMV. If the vehicle only meets the definition when pulling a trailer, you would only be concerned about observance of the safety regulations on those days it meets the definition.

When you find your pickup meets this CMV definition, whoever drives this vehicle must be completely qualified under Part 391, including a copy of the medical certificate on the person of the driver when operating the truck.

The driver must comply with hours-of-service regulations even if he/she is within the 100-air mile radius and utilizes the 100-air mile radius exception. You will need to make sure that the driver does not exceed the 12 consecutive hours on duty, does not drive more than 11 of those 12 hours, and has at least 10 hours off between tours of duty. In addition, you will need to make sure that the driver, even if he/she does not operate the vehicle every day, is able to drive based on the 60- or 70-hour rule (either 7 days prior logs, plus the current day; or a Statement of On-Duty Hours). If the driver cannot meet the conditions set forth in Part 395.1(e), the driver would have to complete a driver’s log for the day the vehicle is used as a CMV.

The pickup truck is also subject to vehicle inspection and maintenance. On those days that the vehicle meets the definition of a CMV, the driver must conduct a pre-trip inspection per Parts 396.13 and 392.7 and be satisfied that the truck is in safe operating condition. The driver must also document a post-trip inspection in accordance with Part 396.11. The next time the pickup truck is used, this report must be maintained and reviewed prior to operation, even if days, weeks or a month elapses before the pickup truck is used as a CMV.

The pickups may have to stop at roadside inspection stations, and they must have annual inspections and display the required USDOT markings on those days they are defined as CMVs.

*Note: An intrastate operation may differ. Example: Minnesota intrastate regulations require that all CMVs have a USDOT number, but they need not display that number on the vehicle. We recommend that the USDOT number is carried inside the vehicle so that it may be made available to any enforcement personnel. Also in Minnesota, if a CMV has a GVWR of less than 26,000 pounds, an annual DOT vehicle inspection is not required.

A final note: any size vehicle hauling hazmat in quantities requiring placards would fall under CDL licensing requirements and DOT drug and alcohol testing, regardless of the vehicles GWR or GCWR. This would be true of both interstate and intrastate operations.

Reprinted with permission Midwest Compliance, Inc.

Petroleum Marketers

Truckers are almost five times more likely than the general population to suffer from sleep apnea, according to officials from the National Transportation Safety Board. However, those suffering from sleep apnea can often be treated and then return to work.

According to a recent study, treating obstructive sleep apnea is beneficial to truck drivers’ health and their health insurance budget. Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep.

The “apnea” in sleep apnea refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least ten seconds. After examining the insurance claims records of 156 truck drivers who received continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and other treatments for sleep apnea, researcher Dr. Benjamin Hoffman found that health plan costs decreased by an average of $2,700 in the first year and another $3,100 in the second year. The study also tracked 92 drivers who did not get treatment for their sleep apnea diagnosis and found that their health costs remained constant.

The study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found that the drivers who were not treated for sleep apnea missed more days and racked up more short-term disability costs than those who were treated. While sleep apnea affects work productivity, it also affects health. “Addressing obstructive sleep apnea in the workplace offers the possibility of early identification and intervention for a chronic disease that is associated with increased health benefit utilization,” explained the research team.

Lifestyle changes are effective ways of mitigating symptoms of sleep apnea. Here are some tips that may help reduce apnea severity:

  • Lose weight. If you are overweight, this is the most important action you can take to cure your sleep apnea. (CPAP only treats it; weight loss can cure it in the overweight person)
  • Avoid alcohol; it causes frequent nighttime awakenings and makes the upper airway breathing muscles relax.
  • Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking worsens swelling in the upper airway, making apnea (and snoring) worse.
  • Some patients with mild sleep apnea or heavy snoring have fewer breathing problems when they are lying on their sides instead of their backs.

Source: National Sleep Foundation

Card skimming has been on the rise during the past year, with most attackers rigging or replacing merchant card readers with their own sniffer devices or ATM machines.

Criminals hid bank card-skimming devices inside gas pumps, in at least one case, even completely replacing the front panel of a pump, in a recent wave of attacks that demonstrate a more sophisticated, insidious method of stealing money from unsuspecting victims filling up their gas tanks.

Some 180 gas stations in Utah, from Salt Lake City to Provo, were reportedly found with these skimming devices sitting inside the gas pumps. The scam was first discovered when a California bank’s fraud department discovered that multiple bank card victims reporting problems had all used the same gas pump at a 7-Eleven store in Utah.

Card skimming has been on the rise during the past year, with most attackers rigging or replacing merchant card readers with their own sniffer devices or ATM machines. The devices typically include a scanner, transmitter, camera, and, most recently, Bluetooth- or wireless-enabled links that shoot the stolen data back to the bad guys.

A similar attack occurred with a rigged ATM machine last year in Las Vegas during the Defcon hacker show in the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino that appeared to be operating normally, but failed to spit out cash. The U.S. Secret Service was investigating the incident, and it was unclear whether the machine was outfitted internally with a skimming device or had been tampered with for someone to grab the cash withdrawals at a later time.

Bruce Schneier, CTO for BT Counterpane and author of the Schneier on Security blog, says attackers in Europe are also moving skimming devices inside gas pumps as a way to avoid detection. He says the perpetrators could be insiders, but it’s unclear. “The moral is that they are getting better and better at this,” Schneier says. Organized criminal gangs might be behind some of these attacks, he adds, “Obviously, they are well-funded,” Schneier says.

Police say data skimmed from the 7-Eleven store in Sandy, Utah, was used to steal more than $11,000 from ATMs in California. Authorities estimate that victims lose millions of dollars a year to these types of attacks at gas stations nationwide. Sgt. Troy Arnold from the Sandy Police Department told a local news outlet that the device in the 7-Eleven gas pump was the size of a cellular phone SIM card and was affixed to the card reader inside the pump. “It’s a small device—Bluetooth, the size of a SIM card—that is attached to the actual credit card reader. And as we are placing our credit cards or debit cards into these gas pumps, it’s not collecting, but it’s just transmitting the account information, the credit card number, to a different device that’s within the range of the Bluetooth technology,” Arnold told a local Fox affiliate. The device was removed in late January, and officials think it had been in place for about two months. Bluetooth-enabled sniffers and wireless technology let the criminals gather data remotely rather than have to physically retrieve their contraband devices, the officials noted.

Back in December, a similar spree occurred in the Sacramento, Calif., area, where gas pumps at an AM/PM convenience store were outfitted with card skimmers, transmitters and small cameras that siphon victims’ debit card data. That information was then used to create a clone card, which the criminal uses at an ATM machine to withdraw money from the victim’s account, according to a published report.

"The consumer can’t be expected to notice these things," BT Counterpane's Schneier says. And even if gas pumps are secured with tamper-proof seals of some sort, “no one is going to look for those,” he says.

Reprinted with permission of Dark Reading
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