More than 3 million truck drivers who record hours of service (HOS) must replace paper log books with an approved electronic logging device. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Final Rule became effective on December 18, 2017. The rule now triggers a two-year period where applicable carriers and drivers must use either a 'grandfathered' Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (ABORD) or an FMCSA approved ELD to record hours of service.
The enforcement date arrived with several trucking groups stepping up in protest. Indiana Attorney General Curtis T. Hill Jr. (R) formally requested an enforcement delay. Congressman Brian Babin (R-TX) introduced the ELD Extension Act of 2017, but the measure remained in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure without movement. While the FMCSA refused to extend a wholesale enforcement delay, agency personnel have indicated that the FMCSA will not issue tickets for non-compliance until at least April 1. The FMCSA has provided guidance, including ELD checklists and resource materials, for motor carriers to become acclimated to the change.
EAT MORE VEGETABLES
Following some pressure from "farm-state" senators, the FMCSA granted a 90-day waiver to carriers involved in the transport of agricultural commodities, so long as the driver has a satisfactory safety rating. The waiver will give drivers of crops and livestock until March 18, 2018, to outfit their rigs with an appropriate ELD. They also must carry a copy of the Federal Register ELD waiver notification and present it to motor carrier safety enforcement officials upon request.
KEEP MOVING FORWARD
While the FMCSA granted a 90-day extension to carriers using rental trucks or leased vehicles for periods less than 30 days, major stakeholders for trucking safety applaud the administration's efforts to implement the final rule on schedule. Looking ahead, after December 16, 2019, all drivers and carriers subject to the rule will be required to use self-certified ELDs that are registered with FMCSA. We're keeping our eyes on the road in 2018 and beyond.
Keeping the House Clean
MORE QUIET TIME
The New York City Council passed legislation to reduce unreasonable noise on construction sites around the Big Apple. The measure would cut in half the noise a construction site can produce before the 'quiet hours' of 7 a.m. or after 6 p.m. Construction noise during the designated quiet hours will be capped at 80 decibels, then 75 decibels in 2020. The bill targets potential noisemakers ranging from sledgehammers, to off-road construction vehicles, to the metal plates used to cover excavations in a street. The City Council's measure will become effective 120 days after Mayor de Blasio signs it.
MORE FRESH AIR
Hawaii became the first U.S. state to commit to 100% renewable fuel sources for public and private ground transportation, with a target completion date of 2045. Hawaii's four mayors from Honolulu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island signed successive proclamations to jointly carry out this resolution. The City and County of Honolulu, the County of Maui, and the County of Kauai pledged to transition all public fleet vehicles to 100% renewable power by 2035. With an Artic Outbreak gripping Chicago, we're looking for ways to bring you closer to this story as it unfolds.
Making Our Way Around the Country
The North Carolina Industrial Commission proposed new rules for the utilization of opioids, prescriptions, and pain management in workers' compensation claims. The proposed rules are intended to facilitate the timely and effective delivery of appropriate medical treatment of pain in workers' compensation claims. A public hearing is scheduled for March 2, 2018, and the Commission will accept written comments until March 19, 2018. If adopted, the rules will be finalized on May 1, 2018.
Attorneys' fees in the Florida workers' compensation system totaled nearly $440 million during the 2016-2017 fiscal year according the Annual Report published by the Office of the Judge of Compensation Claims. The Sunshine State saw a 36 percent increase, upwards of $186 million, in approved legal fees for injured workers' counsel, the highest amount paid in nearly a decade. The report attributes this fee growth to the 2016 Florida Supreme Court ruling Castellanos v. Next Door Company, where the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the restrictive fee caps violated injured workers' due process rights. In 2016-2017, more than $75 million in hourly fees were approved for claimants' attorneys, a nearly 200 percent increase from the $25.8 million in hourly fees that were approved the previous year.
New labor and employment laws hit the books across the country this week. In Vermont, employers can no longer request or require employees to provide their social media content. Washington became the seventh state to require employers to offer paid sick leave to their workers. Rhode Island is set to be the eighth, when the Ocean State's paid sick law takes effect in July. New York joins a group of states that require employers to provide paid family leave benefits. New York employees will eventually be entitled to up to 12 weeks a year once the law takes full effect. In Nevada, employers are now required to offer up to 160 hours of leave per 12-month period to workers (or whose family members) who have been victims of domestic violence. And, around the country, eighteen states will raise the minimum wage this year.
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS
We hope that your 2018 is off to a healthy, prosperous start, and that your resolutions are still intact. If you are still in the market for some effective resolutions, we've got you covered-from the hyper-technical recommendations of Chief Information Security Officers to soaring admonishment to live an "ethic of possibility," and not just the pragmatic "ethics of probability." Sorry, risk management. We wish you the best for the New Year and we absolutely look forward to seeing you along the way.