A Kansas Court of Appeals struck down as unconstitutional a 2013 change to the state's workers' compensation law that permitted the use of the sixth edition of the American Medical Association's Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. A three-judge panel ruled that the change approved by the Kansas Legislature in 2013 too severely limits an injured worker's right to obtain a legal remedy for a workplace injury. The record on appeal showed that the injured worker's doctor assigned a 6% whole person impairment rating using the sixth edition, but would have received a 25% impairment rating under the fourth edition the AMA Guides. We will continue to follow this case on appeal.
The Idaho Supreme Court ruled that an undocumented worker can't be denied permanent disability benefits simply because of his immigration status. In a divided opinion, the majority held that immigration status can still be a factor in disability decisions, but alone is not a reason for denial. In his dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Gerald F. Schroeder argued that because the injured worker could not gain legal access to the labor market, his future employability would require an acceptance of a "continuing cycle of illegal conduct." The court's decision sets up a case-by-case evaluation of this issue, so we will keep an eye on Idaho and other states that may follow suit.
Department of Insurance (DOI) Commissioner Trinidad Navarro announced that the Delaware Workplace Safety Program has helped over 1,500 businesses save over $9.8 million on their workers' compensation insurance premiums. The savings are a result of the businesses' successful completion of state supervised workplace safety inspections. Each month, the Delaware Compensation Rating Bureau (DCRB) sends the DOI a list of those Delaware employers who meet the requirements and have workers' compensation insurance policies renewing in seven months. Employers who wish to participate must complete and submit an application at least five months before their policy renews.
OSHA ELECTRONIC REPORTING
Speaking of workplace safety, the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plans to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to better protect personally identifiable information or data that could be re-identified with a particular individual by removing provisions of the "Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses" rule. The proposed rule would rescind the requirement that employers with 250 or more employees electronically report detailed information about their workers' injuries and illnesses. The agency is accepting comments on this proposed rule through September 28, 2018. More to come on this rule this fall.
RUNNING TO THE PROBLEM
The U.S. Department of Transportation made an emergency declaration aimed at easing the movement of commercial vehicles and the hours of service needed to transport supplies and equipment to combat wildfire activity on the West Coast. As the wildfires rage, we recognize the brave individuals who put themselves in harm's way to battle these destructive wildfires and applaud the generosity of those who support their efforts.
THE FUTURE OF LOGISTICS
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled Freight NYC, a $100 million state, federal, and local plan to overhaul the city's aging freight distribution systems through strategic investments to modernize maritime and rail assets, create new distribution facilities, and a more sustainable and resilient supply chain network. Across the Atlantic, the government of the United Kingdom launched the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, seeking strategies to make the U.K. a world leader in moving people and goods. The U.K. government released two related "call for evidence" documents. One pertains to improving first mile/last mile connections, with a focus on electric vehicles and microtransit, and the other deals more generally with the future of urban mobility, with a focus on emerging trends and transportation changes. We'll send you back to the future as these initiatives develop.
Making Our Way Around the Country
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 4881, the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, to help implement cutting-edge technology on America's farms. The legislation establishes a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) task force, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to evaluate the best ways to meet the broadband connectivity and technological needs of precision agriculture. Already a multi-billion dollar (and growing) industry, precision agriculture uses technology like the Internet of Things (IoT), self-driving machinery, drones, and satellites to operate farms more effectively and efficiently.
The Trump administration proposed a rollback of fuel efficiency and emissions standards, effectively taking aim at California's more stringent emission rules. Under the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called for increasing fuel economy standards over time to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. On Thursday, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a new proposed rule that would instead freeze the standards at their 2020 levels for six years.
With new teen drivers in each of our homes this summer, and we're taking a look at some new roadside safety bills around the county. In Georgia, House Bill 978 allows drivers on the other side of a concrete barrier, a grass median, or a turn lane from a stopped school bus to not have to stop for buses that are loading and unloading. Kansas joined 18 other states in adopting a law requiring motorists to use caution around garbage trucks by making driver carelessness a fineable offense. And nine states revisited "Following Too Closely" rules, which may pave the way for platooning trucks on the roadways. Scan the horizon, hands at 9 & 3, and yield the right of way.