Letters: Older Workers, EOBRs, Hours of Service

These Letters to the Editor appear in the Jan. 25 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Older Workers

The Jan. 4 Opinion piece, “Workers’ Comp and Our Aging Workforce” (p. 7; click here for story), has to be the most biased article I have ever read.

I am a safety professional and, ironically, I just came back from teaching a safety class where two of my students were more than 70 years old. One of them was hired when he was 68.



If you want to be fair, why don’t you give the statistics for new hires of all ages? I don’t know what the numbers are today, but I know that in 2007, 41% of all new people had an Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordable incident in their first 36 months of employment.

What are my credentials? Well, first of all, I am 61 years old, so you might just want to ignore this e-mail.

I am on the board of directors for the Arizona chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers, I sit on the safety board for the Arizona Small Business Association and I am an adviser to one of our state’s largest workers’ compensation insurers.

The way I see it, the compliments the writer paid to the older worker were nothing but “faint praise.”

Wayne Ziemann
Safety Engineer
Workplace Safety Specialists
Phoenix

Julie Croushore, author of the op-ed discussed in the letter above, offered the following response:

This article suggests that employers prepare and protect themselves from potential added liability, while ensuring the health and safety of all employees. It was not meant to specifically target older workers, and I acknowledge that accidents can happen to people of all ages. As the reader notes, numerous injuries can occur during the first few months on the job, most likely because the employee is not physically capable of performing the job. The article recommends that employers take proactive steps to ensure that employees are physically capable of performing job duties and are generally suited to the job for which they are hired. This increased awareness helps employers make necessary accommodations to protect their em-ployees’ health and well-being and also to manage workers’ compensation expenses.

EOBRs

I read the article in which another one of our “anointed” experts — National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Debbie Hersman — laments the lack of a significant electronic onboard recorder rule and says EOBRs should be mandatory for all commercial transport vehicles (11-23, p. 4; click here for story).

As a seasoned professional driver and owner-operator with a decade of safe and efficient driving experience, I have to ask why the NTSB, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and various other levels of Department of Transportation agencies, as well as the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, haven’t examined the structure of a trucking company to see how it actually operates.

Many of these regulations are written or whined about by a lot of politicians and political action committee members who do not have commercial driver licenses and have never, ever taken the time to consider — let alone actually research — the facts on how their weekly steak and produce actually arrive on their dinner tables.

It’s even less likely that they have gone out on the interstate with a driver to find out firsthand what it takes to do our jobs.

Please, Debbie Hersman, if you want to make our industry “safer” for all, spread the responsibility and accountability and form regulations to ferret out the rogue dispatchers (also known as “driver managers”) who often will pressure a driver to go out of the legal hours of service just to cover for a load or will put the driver’s contract (lease) and career in jeopardy by forcing the driver to be illegal in his logbook.

I think it’s high time that all driver managers, operations managers, dispatchers and load planners be trained and licensed to the same high standards as the American professional driver is today. Only by spreading out job responsibilities and establishing training guidelines and accountability procedures will the safety aspects of trucking improve and reach a higher level.

The professional driver is rapidly approaching a point where he or she can be in serious violation of a number of laws just by doing a job professionally.

David Ritter
Owner-Operator
Semper Fi Transport
Klamath Falls, Ore.

Hours of Service

I very much agree with your article on truck driver hours-of-service rules (1-11, p. 1; click here for story). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration needs to stand up and make sure that the current regulations governing hours of service can withstand judicial review.

In my 35 years in the trucking industry as driver, manager and safety director, never have I seen a regulation on hours of service do more for safety than the current regulation in place. Not only do my drivers end up with more rest, but they understand the rule completely and work within its boundaries.

As for our company, we insist on drivers running legal at all times. Tracking hours of service is a much easier process to control in our office because the drivers understand the law.

We are a local carrier, so I cannot speak about over-the-road situations. However, with a local carrier, our drivers have the ability to make more money and get the rest they require.

My opinion is that if the people in the citizens’ groups were truck drivers, they would love the plan. It still makes me wonder why they think the regulation makes our roads unsafe. If anything, the statistics show our roads are safer than at any other time in our history.

FMCSA, please stand up for what is right and make the regulation work so we can put an end to this matter once and for all.

John Hill
Safety Manager
Georgia Tank Lines
Doraville, Ga.

 

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