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OSHA Urges Hurricane Recovery Workers to Protect Themselves

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US Labor Department’s OSHA urges hurricane recovery workers to protect themselves against hazards

BOSTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is urging workers and members of the public engaged in Hurricane Sandy cleanup and recovery efforts in New York, New Jersey and the New England states to be aware of the hazards they might encounter and the steps they should take to protect themselves.

“Storm recovery workers are working around the clock to clean up areas impacted by the storm,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s New York regional administrator. “We want to make sure that workers are aware of the hazards involved in cleanup work and take the necessary precautions to prevent serious injuries.”

OSHA field staff members are providing safety assistance, technical support, and information and training to those involved in the recovery efforts. For more information about unsafe work situations, workers and the general public can contact OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

For more information about protecting workers during Hurricane Sandy recovery, visit http://www.osha.gov/sandy/index.html. This comprehensive website offers fact sheets, concise “quick cards,” frequently asked questions, safety and health guides, and additional information in English and Spanish.

Cleanup work can involve restoring electricity, communications, and water and sewer services; demolition activities; removal of floodwater from structures; entry into flooded areas; cleaning up debris; tree trimming; structural, roadway, bridge, dam and levee repair; use of cranes, aerial lifts and other heavy equipment; hazardous waste operations; and emergency response activities.

Inherent hazards may include downed electrical wires, carbon monoxide and electrical hazards from portable generators, fall and “struck-by” hazards from tree trimming or working at heights, being caught in unprotected excavations or confined spaces, burns, lacerations, musculoskeletal injuries, being struck by traffic or heavy equipment, and drowning from being caught in moving water or while removing water from flooded structures.

Protective measures include evaluating the work area for all hazards; assuming all power lines are live; using the right personal protective equipment (hard hats, shoes, reflective vests, safety glasses); conducting exposure monitoring where there are chemical hazards; following safe tree cutting procedures to prevent trees from falling on workers; and using fall protection and proper ladder safety when working at heights.

For additional information on grants, cleanup efforts and recovery resources, visit the Labor Department’s Hurricane Recovery Assistance Web page, which is being continuously updated at http://www.dol.gov/opa/hurricane-recovery.htm. Also, a checklist of activities to be undertaken before, during and after a hurricane is available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information about the agency, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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The Lonesome Road - America’s trucking industry faces driver shortages

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Source: comstocksmag.com/Articles/1012_F_t
ransportation_thirty_million_gamble.aspx

(scroll down for the article)

The trucking industry is facing a significant driver shortage as baby boomers retire and younger people are unwilling to replace them. The shortfall eased a bit during the recession as fewer trucks took to the road, but with the economy recovering, industry leaders say the shortage is becoming problematic.

The American Trucking Associations predicts the industry will be short approximately 110,000 drivers by 2014, while other estimates peg the figure up to three times higher. That deficit has been paying dividends for those who remain.

“Driver salaries are on the rise,” says Michael Shaw, a spokesman for the California Trucking Association. “Demand is outstripping supply.”

That is good for drivers but not so much for consumers: Most industry experts believe the increased driver costs will ultimately mean higher prices for the goods they deliver.

There are many reasons for the shortfall. Younger people aren’t as interested in the field any more. In this era of health consciousness, the job is perceived as too hard on the body. And long-haul truckers can be required to be gone from home for weeks at a time.

The financial payoff is also questionable. Many large companies prefer to hire truckers who own a rig, which can be an expensive proposition for a potential driver. And new regulations in California related to greenhouse gas emissions have made it even more difficult for truckers to afford equipment.

However, there are other signs that workers are enlisting in the field because job prospects are so poor elsewhere. David Decker, director of education for the Western Truck School in West Sacramento, says he has seen a slight increase in the number of students willing to fork over the $2,000 to $5,000 needed to pass his training program. He says it is too soon to know if the spike is temporary, but he remains optimistic that the industry will eventually be able to fill its needs. For all its challenges, he notes, trucking has something many industries can’t offer these days: job security.

“It’s harder than ever to make a living now,” Decker says. “But I’m seeing a lot more people coming here now who have already had careers in other fields. They’re coming here because they just need a steady job.”

— Rich Ehisen

Source: comstocksmag.com/Articles/1012_F_transportation_thirty_million_gamble.aspx (scroll down for the article)

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U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Festivities For November 15th

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Media Contact:
Chris Spinks
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 214.978.4824
Ken Coffin, US Forest Service
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
, 970-878-6001

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Festivities Scheduled For November 15th At House of Blues Dallas

Dallas, TX (11/5/12) – On November 15, 2012, the U.S. Forest Service with help from their nonprofit partner, Choose Outdoors will be bringing the US Capitol Christmas Tree (CapitolChristmasTree2012.com) to Dallas, TX and invites all people young and old to come celebrate this annual holiday tradition.

On November 2, the 2012 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was harvested in the White River National Forest, near Meeker, CO. The tree was then wrapped and will be transported to Washington, D.C. on a custom-decorated Mack Pinnacle model truck which will be driven by former U.S. Senator, Ben Nighthorse Campbell.


The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will to be on display at 4:00 PM, Thursday, November 15th at House of Blues Dallas. This stop will be one of many along the tree’s 23-day tour across Colorado and the country on its way to the nation’s capital. All festivities with the Tree are open to the public and free for all to enjoy.

As the Tree travels the country, it will carry a message about sustainable forestry as well as invite people to assist with raising funds for the Forest Restoration Challenge. This challenge was set up to help areas impacted by the massive wildfires which devastated areas near Colorado Springs and Fort Collins in the spring of 2012. Those interested in donating can text any dollar amount to 303-502-5858 then donors will then be ask for some basic information to complete the donation. In addition, Toys for Tots will be accepting donations of toys, and ROTARY will accept contributions of coats and nonperishable foods.


Festivities being held while the Tree is in town will include presentations by public officials, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, ornament decorating, and a free performance by Country singer, Lindsay Lawler, who is also the spokesperson for the Truckload Carriers Association’s Highway Angel program. Lawler will perform Standing Tall, the winning song from more than 300 entries in the Sing 4 The Trees songwriting contest.

Special events and opportunities to view the tree are being planned in every stop across the country. Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be traveling with the Tree so be sure to have the little one's bring their list so they can show Santa.


“We’re working with city officials and volunteers across the country to make the 2012 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree tour an unforgettable experience of both giving back and celebrating the holiday season,” said Bruce Ward, founder of Choose Outdoors.

Upon arrival in Washington, D.C., the tree will be placed on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol and decorated with more than 5,000 ornaments handmade by Colorado children depicting the tree’s theme, “Celebrating the Great Outdoors.” In early December, a tree lighting ceremony will take place and will be available for public viewing throughout the holiday season.


Costs associated with the tree's transportation and tour events are made possible by contributions by individuals, corporations and local communities. Major sponsors include the Colorado Tourism Office, Mack Trucks and The National Association of Convenience Stores and Randall Reilly Publishing.

For more information on the Dallas, TX tour stop, visit hob.com/dallas. To track the tree’s route, visit CapitolChristmasTree2012.com or you can also follow the tree on Facebook (facebook.com/CapitolChristmasTree2012), Twitter (twitter.com/CapitolTree2012) and Pinterest (pinterest.com/capitoltree2012)

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Freight Shipments Rose 0.2% in September from August

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BTS Releases Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI); Freight Shipments Rose 0.2% in September from August

The amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry rose 0.2 percent in September from August, rising after a one-month decline, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) released today. The September 2012 index level (109.2) was 15.8 percent above the April 2009 low during the recession.

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that the level of freight shipments in September measured by the Freight TSI (109.2) dropped 4.2 percent below the all-time high level of 114.0 in December 2011. BTS’ TSI records began in 1990.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.

Analysis: The Freight TSI in September 2012 continued a pattern of little change since January as some other indicators showed an uptick in economic growth. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 2.0 percent in the third quarter, up from 1.3 percent growth in the second quarter (though below 4.1 percent in fourth quarter of 2011), according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Employment grew by 0.6 percent in September. Almost all freight modes experienced some increase in September, but rail freight showed a significant decline.

Trend: Since peaking in December 2011 (114.0) at the highest level in the 22-year history of the Freight TSI series, the index has remained in a narrow band during the nine months of 2012. It reached a high of 110.6 in February and a low of 109.0 in August. After dipping to 94.3 in April 2009 during the recession, freight shipments increased in 27 of the last 41 months, rising 15.8 percent during that period.

Index highs and lows: Freight shipments in September 2012 (109.2) were 15.8 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession (94.3). In April 2009, freight shipments were at their lowest level since June 1997 (92.3). The September 2012 level is down 4.2 percent from the historic peak reached in December 2011 (114.0).

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New FMCSA Initiative - Driver Medical Card Validation

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and its State partners will be conducting random verifications of driver Medical Examiner's Certificates (MEC) during enforcement activities. The purpose of these validations is to obtain verbal confirmation that the medical examination was conducted and the information on the Medical Examination Certificate is accurate. It is not to evaluate the driver's medical fitness to operate a CMV.

The FMCSA will take the following steps to validate the authenticity of MECs:

1. Contact the Medical Examiner's (ME) office at the telephone number indicated on the certificate;
2. Explain the inquiry's purpose and indicate that it is intended solely to confirm that the document presented by the driver matches the records maintained by the ME. Direct contact with the actual ME is not required - an authorized staff member may provide the requested information; and
3. Provide the driver's name and date of birth, the date of issuance of the MEC and any restrictions indicated thereon and request verbal confirmation of the information provided.

The FMCSA appreciates the MEs' cooperation in our effort to eliminate the use of fraudulent MECs and to keep medically unqualified drivers off our nation's highways.

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ATA’s Graves Says Trucking Faces Big Cleanup Job Following Storm

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Fuel Shipments to Utility Workers, First Responders Is Top Priority
 
The trucking industry is facing a big task in the Northeast following Hurricane Sandy, American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves said in a TV interview Thursday.

Graves told Fox Business News that trucks will need to restock grocery store shelves and cited reports of up to 15,000 damaged cars at the Port of Newark that will need to be disposed of and eventually replaced, adding work for auto carriers.

He said the flatbed sector would see “a whole lot of activity” with the construction materials that will be needed in the cleanup and rebuilding following last week’s storm, and said that trucking was moving fuel as quickly as possible into the affected region.

“We think we’re going to slog through some really slow economic times, and the storm in the Northeast is going to be a drain this quarter, but a lot of rebuilding is going to take place... that alone will perhaps add a little uptick in the next quarter,” he said.

 “We’re getting fuel to every place that we’re physically allowed to move,” Graves said, adding that the first needs were for utility and emergency first-responders.

“I think those needs are being met,” he said, adding that, in the meantime, it’s going to take a while to get fuel to filling stations, some of which don’t have power or are not accessible.

Asked about the general state of trucking, Graves said that “freight levels were pretty well flat” this year and that the economy was likely to remain relatively flat until the third quarter of next year before an uptick.

He also cited the trucking industry’s concerns about finding qualified truck drivers, in part because “it’s a really hard job” with extensive training required, and with new safety rules in place.

New Jersey, where Sandy did most of its damage, was hit by a nor’easter Wednesday that dumped snow on much of the state.

Click here to view the full interview. (Fox Business News website; appx. 4 mins.)

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DOT Announces Winner of Distracted Driving Design Challenge

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DOT 128-12
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Contact: Justin Nisly
Tel: (202) 366-4570

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Winner of Distracted Driving Design Challenge

Winning “Text & Wreck” Icon Submitted by 14-Year-Old Hah’mari Watson of Sanford, Florida

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today unveiled the winning submission in the U.S Department of Transportation’s Distracted Driving Design Challenge. The “Text & Wreck” icon was designed by 14-year-old Hah’mari Watson of Sanford, Florida.

Download: “Text & Wreck” Icon

Created to raise awareness among young drivers about the dangers of texting and cell phone use behind the wheel, the Distracted Driving Design Challenge invited teens to create an original icon with an anti-distracted driving message that could be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social networking sites. The winning design was selected by Secretary LaHood and will be incorporated into USDOT’s distracted driving campaign on Distraction.gov.

 “The Department of Transportation is committed to helping young drivers get the message that texting and driving don’t mix,” said Secretary LaHood. “My congratulations go out to Hah'mari for her terrific design, and I hope her social media icon will serve as a helpful icebreaker for young drivers struggling to speak up to others about the dangers of distracted driving.”

Hah’mari Watson, a freshman at Seminole High School in Sanford, Florida, was inspired to create her icon because she and her family were involved in a minor car crash caused by a texting teen driver two years ago. While no one was seriously injured, the accident showed Hah’mari how quickly a momentary distraction could have serious consequences.

“I hope my design will help other young people realize just how dangerous it is to text and drive at the same time,” said Hah’mari Watson.

Secretary LaHood unveiled the winning icon while delivering the keynote address at the first ever Florida Distracted Driving Summit in Tampa, Florida. The event brought together federal, state, and local officials, law enforcement, traffic safety experts, physicians, and businesses focused on reducing distracted driving in the state.

In June, the Department released a “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving” that offers a comprehensive strategy to address the growing and dangerous practice of using handheld cell phones behind the wheel. The plan, which outlines concrete steps stakeholders around the country can take to reduce the risk posed by distracted driving, builds on the national momentum that Secretary LaHood and USDOT have led for the last three years.

To learn more about the U.S. Department of Transportation’s efforts to stop distracted driving, please visit www.Distraction.gov.