As South Carolina braces for possible record flooding from Hurricane Florence, OSHA issued a warning to workers and the public to be vigilant and mindful of hazards following Florence. Florence dumped more than eight trillion gallons of rain and killed at least 46 people.
In North Carolina, dozens of wastewater treatment plants were shut down or compromised. More than three dozen pig waste lagoons overflowed, suffered breaches, or were inundated. Another potential biohazard involves the death of 3.4 million chickens or turkeys. And in alarming news, two toxic coal ash ponds have already flooded. The cleanup of coal ash is a dangerous process. A report notes that 30 people who worked on the clean up of a 2008 spill are dead and 200 more are sick. The 2008 Tennessee breach is the site of the nation's largest environmental disaster.
Eleven days after Hurricane Florence, the state is bracing for record flooding as the Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers are expected to overflow in the coming days. Georgetown is expecting up to 10 feet of flooding and issued mandatory evacuation orders. The flooding is within inches of flooding a coal ash pit with 200,000 tons of ash, which contains toxic metals like arsenic, lead, and mercury.
ON THE HORIZON
The National Hurricane Center is watching Leslie, Kirk, and other storms forming in the Atlantic. As these storms affect all industries and all lines of coverage, we'll keep reporting on the effects these storms.
Independent Contractor V. Employee
The Labor Department is looking at changing regulations governing gig workers and other independent contractors, said Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta in a recent interview. Last year, the DOL withdrew Obama-era guidance on independent contractor status. However, a new DOL rule would have limited reach since it can only clarify how workers should be classified under federal wage-and-hour law. It cannot overturn court decisions or revise state or local laws. Earlier this year, California's Supreme Court adopted an expansive test that would only look at three factors to determine if a worker is properly classified.
The House Labor and Industry Committee passed an independent contractor bill (H.B. 1781) out of committee this week that would certify whether an individual is an independent contractor for the purposes of workers' compensation. The bill sets up a registry with the state Department of Labor and Industry where workers would file an affidavit that they are independent contractors. The bill now goes to the full House for a vote.
Making Our Way Around the Country
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended the public comment period for a recent proposed rulemaking that could potentially change hours of service (HOS) rules for truck drivers. There are four specific areas that the agency is considering changing: the 30-minute rest break provision; the short-haul HOS limit; the HOS exception for adverse driving conditions; and the sleeper berth rule to allow drivers to split their required time in the sleeper birth. Several organizations requested additional time to respond to the proposed rule. Originally scheduled to end Sept. 24, the public comment period is extended until Oct. 10.
A divided 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled restaurants must pay waiters and bartenders minimum wage when they are engaged in tasks that are unrelated to their main jobs, such as cleaning toilets, and do not offer tips. Under federal law, an employer can pay workers who receive tips $2.13 an hour as long as their tips bring their earnings to minimum wage. The ruling upheld a regulation by the U.S. Department of Labor and subsequent guidance that limited employers' use of the tip credit.
NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION
Each week we bring you the latest state and federal affairs affecting the risk and insurance industry and the way you do business. You have the ability to affect those changes by voting. National Voter Registration Day was yesterday and its goal is to focus attention on the importance of registering to vote. I like to make it a family event.
We'd like to take this opportunity to thank our readers. The Way is a 2018 Digital Award Finalist for PR News' email newsletter. PR News' Digital Awards are the industry's top honor in the digital communications space, recognizing outstanding digital initiatives among corporations, agencies, and nonprofits. Again, thank you for your feedback and continued support.