FMCSA proposes pilot program to allow drivers under 21 to operate CMVs interstate

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Photo: WendellandCarolyn/iStockphoto

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking public comment on a proposed pilot program that would allow drivers ages 18 to 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles interstate.

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia permit drivers as young as 18 to obtain a commercial driver’s license for intrastate travel, with Hawaii the lone exception.

The pilot program would establish an apprenticeship program for CDL holders younger than 21, requiring apprentices to complete two probationary periods totaling 400 hours. Additionally, 19- and 20-year-old drivers who have operated CMVs in intrastate commerce for at least one year and 25,000 miles are eligible to participate. According to FMCSA, the program would prohibit drivers from hauling passengers and hazardous materials or operating special configuration vehicles, including cargo tanks.

“This action will allow the agency to carefully examine the safety, feasibility and possible economic benefits of allowing 18- to 20-year-old drivers to operate in interstate commerce,” FMCSA acting administrator Wiley Deck said in a Sept. 4 press release. “Safety is always FMCSA’s top priority, so we encourage drivers, motor carriers and interested citizens to review this proposed new pilot program and share their thoughts and opinions.”

In February, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s Transportation and Safety Subcommittee conducted a hearing to explore safety concerns regarding younger CMV drivers, among other industry issues.

FMCSA in May 2019 requested public comment on a proposal to allow 18- to 20-year-olds to operate CMVs in interstate commerce. According to the agency, 1,118 comments were received, with 504 favoring the proposal, 486 in opposition, and various other comments providing “conditional support” or offering additional suggestions.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear was among the proposal’s early supporters.

“This is a significant step toward improving safety on our nation’s roads, setting a standard for these drivers that is well beyond what 49 states currently require,” Spear said in a Sept. 4 press release. “This is an amazing block of talent with unlimited potential. If our freedom can be defended from tyranny around the world by our men and women in uniform, many well below the age of 21, then it’s quite clear that we can train that same group how to safely and responsibly cross state lines in a commercial vehicle.”

ATA Chairman Randy Guillot suggests in the release that the proposal could offer a gateway to connect with potential new drivers, putting the industry “in a better position to bring in a new generation of valuable talent.”

Several groups – including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Governors Highway Safety Association, and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – are expressing opposition to the proposed program.

In an article published Sept. 4 in OOIDA’s Land Line magazine, OOIDA Director of Federal Affairs Jay Grimes asserts that the program “will no doubt lead to more crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks,” citing longstanding data showing higher incident rates among 18- to 20-year-old drivers.

“OOIDA also fears that younger drivers will be subject to inadequate working conditions and be used to maintain a cheap labor supply that will only result in higher driver turnover rates rather than long-term careers in the industry,” Grimes said. “We believe the agency should be working to reverse the increasing trend of crashes and promoting policies that help make trucking a rewarding, sustainable profession. This pilot program accomplishes neither of those objectives.”

Comments on the program are due by Nov. 9.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment

Protect your skin

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Do you work with wet cement, paints or plaster? Maybe adhesives? These are just some of the materials that can irritate your skin because they can contain harsh substances such as hexavalent chromium, calcium hydroxide, toluene, xylene, epoxy resins and lime. This can result in burns, dermatitis and other skin disorders, and even cancer.

Symptoms of skin disorders include:

  • Red and/or swollen hands or fingers
  • Cracked or itchy skin
  • Crusting or thickening of the skin
  • Blisters
  • Flaky or scaly skin
  • Burns

Here’s how you can protect your skin:
Prevent exposure. Try to keep your arms and clothes dry. Wear protective clothing, including gloves, coveralls and boots. If you work outdoors, always apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher. Clean your hands and skin before applying the sunscreen.
Wear gloves. Make sure you’re using the right glove for the materials you’re handling. The gloves should fit and keep your hands clean and dry.
Keep your skin clean. Wash your hands with soap and clean water if you come in contact with a hazardous substance. Use a pH neutral soap if you work with wet cement or other caustics.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

MSHA – Mine Fatality

MINE FATALITY – On July 29, 2020, a miner was injured when his arm became entangled in a stacker conveyor belt. The victim was airlifted to a trauma center where he passed away a week later.

Accident scene where the miner was injured when his arm became entangled in a stacker conveyor belt
Photo property of MSHA
Best Practices:
  • Turn off, lock out power sources and block against motion before removing or bypassing a guard or other safety device to clean, repair, perform maintenance or clear a blockage on a belt conveyor.
  • Never clean pulleys or idlers manually while belt conveyors are operating.
  • Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing and keep tools, body parts and long hair away from moving belt conveyor components.
  • Train all personnel in safe work procedures.
  • Properly guard moving machine parts to protect persons from contact that could cause injury.
Additional Information:

This is the 12th fatality reported in 2020, and the second classified as “Powered Haulage.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Cleaning vs. disinfecting/sanitizing: What’s the difference?

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A best practice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections is routinely cleaning and disinfecting/sanitizing surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

That’s because recent studies have found that SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 – can remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. To effectively remove and eliminate the virus, however, workers need to understand that the terms “cleaning” and “disinfecting/sanitizing” aren’t interchangeable, NIOSH Director John Howard pointed out during a March 31 webinar hosted by the National Safety Council in conjunction with the agency.

“Cleaning is getting the dirt out,” Howard said. “Sanitizing is what’s used in public health a lot to get down to a certain level of bacteria – sometimes 95% is killed. Disinfection is killing everything. That’s where you want to aim.”

CDC’s explanation goes a step further:
Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces. It doesn’t kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting/sanitizing refers to using chemicals (e.g., Environmental Protection Agency-registered disinfectants) to kill germs on surfaces. This process doesn’t necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Sterilization describes a process of destroying or eliminating all forms of microbial life and is carried out in health care facilities by physical or chemical methods.

Among CDC’s tips to clean and disinfect surfaces:

  • Wear disposable gloves.
  • Clean surfaces using soap and water, then use a disinfectant.
  • When using EPA-registered disinfectants, follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product.
  • More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be required based on level of use.
  • Surfaces and objects in public places (e.g., shopping carts and point-of-sale keypads) should be cleaned and disinfected before each use.

Workplace exposure to silica, beryllium may have links to sarcoidosis: study

Photo: safetyandhealthmagazine.
Nieuwegein, The Netherlands — On-the-job exposure to silica, beryllium and certain other metals may be linked to the inflammatory disease sarcoidosis, results of a recent study led by Dutch researchers suggest.

For people who have sarcoidosis, inflammatory cells collect and grow in parts of the body – typically the lungs and lymph nodes – and can potentially damage organs. The cause of the disease isn’t known, “but experts think it results from the body’s immune system responding to an unknown substance,” the Mayo Clinic states. No cure for the disease exists, but treatments are available. In certain instances, sarcoidosis clears up on its own.

For the study, the researchers assessed the potential exposures to silica, beryllium, aluminum and zirconium among 256 sarcoidosis patients and 73 control patients who had obstructive sleep apnea, using the results of a questionnaire on work history. Patients with OSA were used as controls because “there is no relationship between environmental triggers and development of OSA.”

Results show that the sarcoidosis patients had a higher percentage of workplace exposure to silica or the other metals – 32.4% (or 83 out of 256), compared with the control group’s 24.7%. After the researchers examined the immune system reactions to silica and the other metals in 33 sarcoidosis patients and 19 control patients using a lymphocyte proliferation test, more than 21% of the former group showed reactions to the materials compared with none of the latter group.

Immunoreactivity to silica and metals was only found in sarcoidosis patients, supporting the hypothesis that these antigens may be involved in the pathogenesis of a distinct subgroup of sarcoidosis patients. This indicates that when searching for causative agents in sarcoidosis patients, besides beryllium, also zirconium, aluminium and silica deserve clinical investigation.

The study was published online June 8 in the journal Respiratory Research.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

How healthy is your home workstation? Researchers identify key ergo issues

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Photo: doble-d/iStockphoto

Cincinnati — Millions of people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic may be sitting at improperly arranged workstations that increase their risk of eye, head, neck, back, shoulder, wrist and forearm stress and strain injuries, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by University of Cincinnati researchers.

The researchers conducted an ergonomic assessment of 843 university faculty and staff members’ home workstations via an email survey. In addition, 41 employees submitted photos of their workstations for review. Identified as the top ergonomic issues concerning chairs were lack of lumbar support (73%), back support not being used (69%), seat was too hard (63%), and seat was too low or too high (43%).

Sitting in a chair that is the wrong height can result in elevated arms, leaning on the front edge of a desk and poor head position, the researchers noted. They added that back supports and softer seats help assist with proper posture, while not using armrests adds stress to the forearms and upper back.

Other ergonomics issues identified included poor lighting; work surfaces that had hard, sharp edges; and monitors positioned too high, too low or off to the side.

Among the biggest takeaways for Kermit Davis, lead study author and associate professor in the UC College of Medicine, is that those working at home should take a break about every 30 minutes to minimize the risk of injury.

“The body doesn’t like static postures continually,” Davis said in a July 28 press release. “You don’t want to do all sitting or all standing all the time. You want to alter your position and change it up throughout the day.”

Other recommendations:

  • Place a pillow on your seat if you need more height.
  • Use a rolled-up pillow or towel behind your back to provide lumbar/back support.
  • Move your chair closer to the desk or table to ensure your back is against the back of the chair.
  • Use books or a box to raise a laptop monitor to eye level.
  • Standing workstations should include a monitor at eye level, keyboard placed so your forearms are parallel to the ground, and a soft or rounded front edge to the working surface.

The study was published online July 3 in the journal Ergonomics in Design.

Construction, agricultural workers at higher risk of knee osteoarthritis: study

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Photo: kali9/iStockphoto

Sydney — Workers in the construction and agriculture industries face an increased risk of knee osteoarthritis, in part because of the rigorous physical demands of the job, results of a recent study led by researchers at the University of Sydney suggest.

The researchers analyzed 71 studies with more than 950,000 participants to examine relationships between on-the-job exposure, knee osteoarthritis and total knee replacement. Findings show that, compared with occupations that involve low levels of physical activity, agricultural workers are up to 64% more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis, while builders and floor layers are up to 63% more likely to be affected by the condition.

Workers in these sectors who routinely engage in “heavy lifting, frequent climbing, prolonged kneeling, squatting and standing” are especially vulnerable, the researchers noted. Also at increased odds: metal workers, miners, cleaners and service workers.

Noting that knee osteoarthritis is “the most common joint disorder worldwide,” Xia Wang, lead study author and musculoskeletal researcher at the university’s Royal North Shore Hospital, said in a July 8 press release that “tailored preventive strategies need to be implemented early on to adapt the aging workforces in many countries that push for longer employment trajectories.”

The study was published online July 7 in the journal Arthritis Care and Research.

Three Keys to Trenching and Excavation Safety

Trenching incidents are responsible for Backhoe digging a trenchapproximately 25 fatalities each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From underground utilities to potential cave-ins to being struck by objects, workers face a range of hazards in these environments.

“When we talk about trenching and excavation, soil is by far our biggest hazard, but any underground utility that we come in contact with, whether we find a gas line we were not aware of, or high-voltage electric that is buried underground, is a hazard. There are so many hazards that have to be accounted for and it’s constantly changing,” says Eric Voight, vice president and assistant director at Conner Strong & Buckelew and member of the ANSI/ASSP A10 Committee.

Proper planning, understanding and monitoring the work environment and training can help workers safely complete a trenching and excavation project. Before you begin your next trenching and excavation project, keep these three points in mind.

Understand the Job Site

The first step toward a safe trenching or excavation project is knowing the soil type(s) and hazards workers will encounter on the job site. This requires assessing the soil(s), identifying hazards present and determining the steps needed to protect workers from those hazards.

“Before you put any shovel into the ground, before you bring any excavator or heavy piece of equipment, you have to plan for all of the hazards that we could encounter, and that starts even before you get out on the site,” Voight explains. “You have to make sure that that you call 8-1-1, or whatever your number is in your locality, and have them come out and mark for any known hazards that could be in the area.”

In terms of classification, soils are divided into four types:

  • Type A: clay, silty clay, sandy clay and clay loam
  • Type B: angular gravel, silt, silt loam and soils that are fissured or near sources of vibration
  • Type C: granular soils in which particles don’t stick together and cohesive soils with a low unconfined compressive strength
  • Stable rock

Voight stresses the need to do multiple tests on soils, using techniques such as a visual test, a ribbon test or a dry strength test to determine the types of soil present. You may also use tools such as a torvane or a pocket penetrometer to assist in the analysis.

“You really have to get your hands dirty,” he says. “It’s not something that you can just step back and take a look and say ‘this looks like Type C soil.’” You actually have to put your hands into the dirt because it’s something you may have to justify how you came up with your determination.”

Throughout the planning process and with any soil evaluation and testing, it’s critical to partner with the competent person on the project to determine how job site hazards will be addressed and what will be the best solutions for providing a safe work environment.

“One of the biggest things you have to identify is who your competent person is going to be,” Voight says. “That competent person will be the one who will determine, based on the depth, width, soil type and work processes, which protective structure will be best for your workers.”

OSHA defines a competent person as “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”

Monitor the Work Environment

The conditions on a trenching and excavation site change constantly. Therefore, you have to continuously monitor the site to determine how those changes may affect worker safety. These could be weather-related factors, or issues related to the makeup of the job site changing over the course of a project.

“An evaluation must be done any time conditions change on the site,” Voight says. “Whether it’s an afternoon thunderstorm, or freezing and thawing, those are critical times because those conditions can create voids in the soil and drastically change how a trench is going to react.”

He adds that soil wants to fill back in due to the natural pressures of any voids that are created, so that must be taken into account when determining which protective measures are best-suited for a particular project.

“Once you understand that a hazard is always going to be there, then you can plan on different ways that you can go through and minimize those risks,” he says. “Whether it’s through a protective structure or some sort of sloping or benching, there are many options that you can choose. Choose the one that matches your task.”

In addition to a safety professional monitoring the conditions on the job site, workers must also continuously assess the conditions in a trench to make sure they stay safe throughout the work day.

“The best thing workers can do to protect themselves is make sure there is some barrier between themselves and the soil,” Voight explains. “Whether it is a trench box, a trench shield, timber shoring or removing soil to create an opening. If there is no soil that can entrap them, then there’s no soil that can bury them.”

Know the Numbers

Voight emphasizes that the standards developed around trenching and excavation such as the ANSI/ASSP A10.12 standard are data driven, and you need to know certain numbers to protect workers on the site.

Before you begin any trenching and excavation project, keep these numbers in mind, in accordance with the A10.12 standard:

  • Provide a means of access and egress in trenches that are 4 ft. or more in depth so as to require no more than 25 ft. of lateral travel for workers.
  • Keep spoil piles at least 2 ft. from the edge of a trench.
  • Trenches 5 ft. or more in depth require a protective structure.
  • Trenches 6 ft. or more in depth require fall protection.
  • Trenches greater than 20 ft. in depth require a professional engineer to review the protection of structures you have in place.

“We need to make sure that ultimately we’re keeping that soil away from entrapping our workers,” he says. “It takes time, it takes effort, but it’s the only way we’re going to prevent injuries and fatalities.”

Listen to our podcast with Eric Voight of the ANSI/ASSP A10 Committee to learn more about how you can protect workers during trenching and excavation projects.

Study links physical stress on the job to cognitive decline, memory loss later in life

Study links physical stress on the job to cognitive decline, memory loss later in life

Photo: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStockphoto

 Physically demanding work may lead to poor memory and faster aging of the brain among older adults, results of a recent study led by researchers from Colorado State University show.

The research team studied 99 adults between the ages of 60 and 79 who were cognitively healthy – clear of psychiatric and neurologic illness, plus no history of stroke; transient ischemic attack, also known as a “mini-stroke”; or head trauma. By using brain images of the participants and an occupational survey about their most recent job, the researchers found that those who reported high levels of physical stress on the job had a smaller hippocampus – the region of the brain associated with memory – and performed worse on memory-related tasks. Examples of physically demanding work included excessive reaching or lifting of boxes onto shelves.

“We know that stress can accelerate physical aging and is the risk factor for many chronic illnesses,” lead researcher Aga Burzynska, an assistant professor in the department of human development and family studies at CSU, said in a July 16 press release. “But this is the first evidence that occupational stress can accelerate brain and cognitive aging.”

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average full-time worker spends nearly 8.6 hours a day on the job and around 40 years in the workforce. Therefore, occupational experiences are likely to play a role in cognitive health and brain aging because they occur long term, the researchers noted.

“By pure volume, occupational exposures outweigh the time we spend on leisure social, cognitive and physical activities, which protect our aging minds and brains,” Burzynska said.

The study was published online July 15 in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Your team needs an empathetic leader during a crisis

Empathic is an important trade for leaders and especially during crisis. Following is an article of posted on SmartBrief.com

In these challenging times, many of my coaching clients are feeling deeply concerned about how to motivate and inspire their people. “How can I motivate someone who is immersed in fear and uncertainty?” they ask. In my coaching sessions, I’m working to help them effectively guide their people when they need a strong leader most.

During times of crisis, showing empathy for your staff and the broader world will help you pull together as a team and feel capable of moving through this challenging time together. Empathy helps you relate to one another on a personal level, showing you care deeply about each other as human beings. Thus, successfully navigating a crisis together can dramatically enhance trust and unity.

1. Practice emotional attunement

Frequently consider how your employees, coworkers and leaders are handling the current situation. How are they feeling? Take note of their body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. Make yourself more available to them by using open body language and eye contact. You’ll soon have a stronger grasp of how others feel at any given time, strengthening your relationships and enhancing your ability to lead your people.  Read More»