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Occupational Safety Blog

By Fred Rine, CEO of FDRsafety and former long-time Managing Director of Safety and Health at FedEx, Jim Stanley, President of FDRsafety and former No. 2 at OSHA headquarters and Mike Taubitz, Senior Advisor to FDRsafety and former Global Safety Director for General Motors.


Archive for July, 2011

Customers threaten to cancel trucking contracts because of high CSA scores

July 26th, 2011 posted by Rose McMurray

Rose McMurray

It’s been a little over six months since the USDOT launched the public availability of its new truck and bus safety measurement system and some motor carriers are reporting unpleasant surprises.

You may recall that this new enforcement regime referred to as CSA for Compliance, Safety, Accountability, changes the way government assesses the on-the-road performance of thousands of companies falling within DOT’s oversight. While it’s still too early to know the impact and effectiveness of the new system, I can report on some of the early experience carriers are reporting with the conversion to CSA.

Perhaps the most surprising development, just like the government had been warning for years, is that the CSA system is capturing a great deal more operating information about truck and bus companies, including the activities of their drivers. That data, in turn, is impacting the company’s safety scores posted on the government’s websites.

I have spoken to several company officials who are “unpleasantly surprised” to see driver violations posted to the company safety profile. Surprising because it is the first time the company has become aware of certain driver(s) receiving citations or tickets. This has caused many companies to reemphasize their requirements for drivers to fully disclose to them their driving infractions.

Remember that in CSA the most serious weight is given to the measures dealing with driving actions—crash involvement, unsafe driving and fatigue or hours of service violations—since those measures have been proven to be the greatest predictors to a driver having a future crash. And crashes are what the government is seeking to prevent.

Customers threaten to cancel business

Another area of surprise to some firms, particularly the ones with poor safety scores, is the reaction of some of their customers. I recently received a frantic call from a Midwest trucking company asking for help in driving their scores down to below intervention threshold levels.

This company has a contract with a very large shipper that is threatening to break the contract because the carrier has all 5 publicly posted CSA measures above the intervention thresholds. The customer fears it is at risk if it continues to conduct business with a carrier that is seen as having serious safety challenges. If this customer were to cut its business with the carrier, it is highly likely the trucking company will be forced out of business.

One other interesting aspect of the changeover to CSA is the peer grouping concept where companies are compared to similarly situated companies so that comparisons are fairer. Because CSA measures are time and severity weighted, older violations lose their emphasis over time.

For example, a violation that occurred in October 2009 would be weighted “less” in the CSA Safety Measurement System than one incurred in October 2010. However, the algorithm that calculates all of this also takes into account whether others in your peer group are improving at the same time. If they are (and you have no way of knowing it), your individual score could increase from one month to the next because others in your peer group improved “faster” even though your company has received no new violations since the last data update.

How to get out of the CSA doghouse

So, what’s a company to do to get themselves out of the CSA “doghouse?” I will address that answer in more detail in my next CSA blog. However, for now my advice is to ensure your employees fully understand the importance of abiding by the DOT requirements so that, to the extent possible, inspection reports are clean and without violations. Drivers should be reminded that, more than ever, any traffic or roadside violations, including warnings, are being emphasized more in CSA.

In short, stay informed and engaged in the safety operations of your company.

To keep up with developments on CSA, subscribe to this blog and have it automatically sent to your mailbox or reader.





Check your lanyards; recall issued

July 19th, 2011 posted by Jim Stanley

Jim Stanley

Petzl America is recalling approximately 375,000 shock-absorbing lanyards that it has sold since 2002 because of a problem that could cause a lanyard to separate from a climbing harness, posing a fall hazard.

The Scorpio and Absorbica lanyards are missing a safety stitch on the attachment loop, according to an announcement last week by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

While no fall injuries have been reported in the United States, there has been one in France, the announcement said. The Commission said that the lanyards should be withdrawn from use immediately.

The lanyards were made in France and all Scorpio and Absorbica lanyards manufactured before May 2011 are included in the recall.

The recalled Scorpio lanyards are in two main categories:

Those made between 2002 and 2005 carry model numbers L60 and L60 CK and are yellow and blue, Y-shaped lanyards with yellow stitching on both ends, connected by a metal O-ring to one end of a blue pouch containing the tear-webbing shock absorber. The pouch has a tag on it with the word “PETZL” in white letters, and the other end of the blue pouch has a blue and yellow webbing attachment loop that connects to the climbing harness.

Scorpio lanyards manufactured between 2005 and 2011 are model numbers L60 2, L60 2CK, L60 H, and L60 WL. They are red, Y-shaped lanyards connected by a black metal O-ring to one end of a grey zippered pouch containing the tear-webbing shock absorber. The other end of the pouch has a black webbing attachment loop that connects to the climber’s harness.

Absorbica lanyards included in the recall have model numbers L70150 I, L70150 IM, L70150 Y, L70150 YM, L57, L58, L58 MGO, L59, and L59 MGO. They have a black zippered pouch with yellow trim and the Petzl logo on the side and a tear-webbing shock absorber accessible through the zippered pouch. The pouch has a connector attachment on one end and a connector attachment, a single lanyard, or a Y-shaped lanyard on the other end.

For a free inspection and replacement of any non-conforming product, contact Petzl America Inc. at 877-740-3826 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mountain Time weekdays or visit www.petzl.com.





OSHA begins forklift emphasis program in 4 states, but all employers should take note

July 17th, 2011 posted by Jim Stanley

Jim Stanley

OSHA’s new emphasis program aimed reducing accidents involving powered industrial trucks is confined to four Southern states, but employers across the country would be well-advised to pay close attention.

Violations involving forklifts are low-hanging fruit for OSHA inspectors everywhere and all employers who use these vehicles should audit their safety programs and take corrective action if needed.

The four-state emphasis program primarily will focus on the training operators receive, maintenance and repair, and the pathways the trucks travel to ensure clear visibility and determine any possible struck-by hazards.

“Powered industrial trucks are a significant source of serious and fatal injuries to workers,” said Cindy Coe, OSHA’s Regional Administrator in Atlanta. “Employers are responsible for ensuring that workers follow the proper safety procedures and for eliminating hazards from the workplace.”

The regional emphasis program, which began May 29, will extend through Sept. 30, 2012.





Companies should be wary of OSHA’s Corporate-Wide Settlement Agreements

July 5th, 2011 posted by Jim Stanley

Jim Stanley

OSHA is stepping up its use of Corporate-Wide Settlement Agreements in an effort to make more efficient use of its compliance resources, but companies should think carefully before signing off on such an agreement.

Under a CSA, companies that have been cited can agree to correct similar issues at all of their locations. But companies must be careful because failure to follow the terms of the Corporate Wide Settlement Agreement can create even greater liability.

“OSHA has made limited use of CSAs in recent years,” said OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels. “However, we believe that the revised directive will be an effective tool to secure worker safety and health protections. Through an employer’s formal agreement to abate serious hazards at multiple facilities, CSAs are an improvement over traditional enforcement measures that could take much longer.”

OSHA has recently issued a new directive regarding Corporate-Wide Settlement agreements that are both national and regional in scope. The directive states that CSAs may “go beyond the subject of the citations/violations to include additional safety and health program enhancements” that were not the reason for the original inspection or citations/violations.

One of the problems for companies with numerous locations is that it can be extremely challenging to monitor performance under the agreement at all of its locations. If OSHA determines non-compliance with issues identified in the CSA, the consequences for the corporation can be significant (Failure-to-abate Notices, repeat or willful violations).

In my opinion, corporations need to examine these agreements very carefully and should seek significant concessions from OSHA in exchange for signing.

Agreements are now required to include a termination date no more than two years from the settlement date. OSHA posts Corporate-Wide Settlement Agreements on its Web site.