Creating a Preventive Maintenance Program
Commercial vehicles often operate over long hours and in grueling conditions, and it’s important to know the condition of your entire fleet so it can remain financially viable. Taking the time to create a preventive maintenance program can help you save in the long run by avoiding unexpected downtime and ensuring fleet reliability.
Let our team help you create a preventive maintenance program and prevent costly breakdowns. Call us at 831-661-5697 and ask to see our new resource, “Preventive Maintenance Program Guide and Toolkit.” This guide walks you through the steps needed to create an effective program and also includes supplemental policies and checklists to help ensure the program’s success.
FMCSA Proposes Simplifed Process for CDL Applicants
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed two changes that will help simplify the process of obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The agency stated that one of the primary motivators for the proposals was to help fill a national shortage of qualified truck and bus drivers.
The following is a summary of the two proposed changes:
- Military licensing and state CDL reciprocity—This proposal would allow applicable state agencies to waive the CDL knowledge test for qualified veterans and certain active duty personnel.
- Commercial learner’s permit validity—This rule would extend the expiration date of CDL learner’s permits from six months to one year.
The FMCSA is currently seeking public comments on the proposals before it moves forward in the rule-making process. For more details on the rules, visit the agency’s website.
Supreme Court Declines to Hear Challenge to ELD Rule
The Supreme Court recently announced that it will not hear a challenge to the FMCSA’s electronic logging devices (ELD) rule. The challenge was brought by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which stated that the ELD rule violates constitutional rights that protect against warrantless searches.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, the ELD rule is expected to come into force on its planned Dec. 18, 2017, compliance date. The FMCSA believes that the rule will result in annual savings of over $1 billion by reducing the amount of required paperwork for commercial motor carriers.
Electricity is one of the leading causes of death for tree-care workers. Tree branches can sometimes be close to power lines, and when trees are uprooted by powerful storms, there is a chance they can take power lines and transformers down with them. Live power lines can pose serious hazards if not fixed properly. Tree-care workers need to know how to stay safe in such conditions.
|Electricity is one of the leading causes of death in the tree-care industry. Workers need to know how to keep themselves and the public safe when electricity poses risks at the worksite
- If there is a power line present, never assume that it is safe to touch.
- Assess the worksite for fall and falling object hazards.
- Have an emergency plan.
- Wear properly insulated footwear and other personal protective equipment in case electricity travels through the ground unexpectedly.
- Consider asking the utility company to de-energize nearby power lines.
Follow Safe Work Practices
- Maintain a distance of at least 10 feet from overhead lines, and more than 10 feet if the voltage to ground is over 50 kilovolts.
- Avoid direct and indirect contact with an energized conductor, such as a power line or a tool touching a power line.
- Stand away from grounding elements, as power can travel through the ground.
Wear the Right Gear
- Wear proper gloves and shoes for hazards present wherever tree work is being performed.
- When electrical hazards are present, use rope that provides appropriate insulation and is free of moisture and contaminants.
- Assume that all power lines are energized at all times.
- Anticipate when limbs might fall onto power sources.
- It only takes a moment for a fatality to occur. Always stay alert and be prepared for potential hazards.
5 Sunscreen Tips to Protect Your Skin
The bright summer months are a great time to be outdoors, but extended exposure to sunlight can cause serious damage to your skin. The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) rays that can lead to sunburn, premature skin aging and cancer.
The best way to protect your skin while still enjoying the outdoors is to regularly apply sunscreen to any area of your body that’s exposed to the sun. It’s also important to use a sunscreen that offers the best protection for the situation you’re in. Here are five important tips you can use to protect your skin this summer:
- Choose a sunscreen that includes broad spectrum protection on the label. These sunscreens will protect you from both types of UV rays.
- Make sure that any sunscreen you use has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. A higher SPF means that more UV light is filtered out before it can reach your skin.
- Use water-resistant sunscreens if you’ll be swimming or sweating in the sun. Also, be sure to inspect the sunscreen’s label to see how long it lasts in the presence of water or sweat.
- Follow the instructions on the sunscreen’s label when applying it to your skin. You should apply the sunscreen evenly to any exposed area of your body. It generally takes 1 fluid ounce of sunscreen to cover an adult.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours. You may need to reapply it more frequently if you’ve been swimming or sweating, or if it’s been rubbed off by a towel or clothing.
Do Your Sunglasses Offer Enough Protection?
The American Optometric Association estimates that 47 percent of consumers don’t check their sunglasses to see if they offer adequate protection from UV rays.
The eyes are one of the most sensitive areas of the body, and exposure to even a small amount of UV rays can result in cataracts and cancer of the eyelids later in life. Keep these tips in mind when purchasing a pair of sunglasses:
- The sunglasses should block 99 to 100 percent of UV radiation.
- A uniform tint should be present. A gray tint is best for color identification while driving.
- The frame of the sunglasses should stay close to your eyes and curve around your face to offer protection from multiple angles.
New Study Demonstrates the Dangers of Talking While Driving
It’s commonly known that smartphones, entertainment systems and other electronics can be a dangerous distraction to drivers. However, a new study from the University of Iowa found that simple conversations can also cause unsafe driving conditions.
The study used eye tracking equipment to analyze where subjects were looking and how long it took them to focus on a new object. Some subjects were also asked true or false questions at the same time in order to simulate a simple conversation. Data collected from the study found that subjects who answered questions took twice as long to focus on a new object than those who were asked no questions.
Although engaging in conversation seems simple, it involves a number of complex tasks that the brain must handle simultaneously. Even if the topic of conversation is straightforward, the brain has to absorb information, overlay what a person already knows and prepare to a construct a reply. And, although this process is done extremely quickly, it can also slow down reaction times and lead to a dangerous accident on the road.
The best way to keep your employees safe while driving is to encourage them to eliminate or turn off all potential distractions, including their cellphones and any hands-free accessories they may use to make a call. You can also consider including language about safe driving practices in your workplace safety policies.
Preventing Workplace Violence
As reports of shootings and other violent incidents become more common, workplace violence is a topic than no business can ignore. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace homicides rose 2 percent in 2015, the latest year for which data is available. Additionally, the number of workplace shootings increased by 15 percent.
The best way to address potential acts of violence at your business is to be prepared to act before, during and after an act of violence occurs. Here are some programs you can use to ensure the safety of your employees and customers:
- Pre-employment screenings-Background checks can help identify candidates who have violent histories.
- Security-Security systems can ensure that only employees have access to certain areas.
- Alternative dispute resolutions-Techniques like facilitation and mediation can help solve a conflict before it escalates.
- Threat assessment teams-A designated team can work with management to assess the potential for violence and develop an action plan.
Congress Considers Flood Insurance Reforms
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is one of the few ways to get insurance coverage for flood risks, and the program is set to expire later this year. However, Congress is currently examining a number of possible changes to the NFIP before it’s reauthorized.
One of the most important topics regarding the NFIP is its financial stability. The program is currently $24 billion in debt as a result of rising claims costs and severe weather events, and some lawmakers believe that the program needs substantial reforms in order to remain viable.
The following are some of the changes that are being considered to the NFIP:
- Making private flood insurance more available to consumers
- Limiting payments to properties that flood repeatedly
- Reducing taxpayer subsidies for flood insurance
- Creating financial incentives for flood mitigation
DOL Withdraws Joint Employment and Worker Classification Guidance
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently withdrew administrative interpretations regarding joint employment and the classification of workers as employees or independent contractors. These withdrawals can have significant consequences on legal protections for employees and eligibility for benefits.
- Worker classification-Employers will need to satisfy tests established by the courts-such as the economic realities test-when classifying workers.
- Joint employment-Joint employment can only be established when an employer has direct control over another employer’s workplace.
To learn more about what these withdrawals could mean for you, contact Scurich Insurance and ask to see our comprehensive compliance bulletins, “DOL Withdraws Joint Employer Guidance” and “DOL Withdraws Worker Classification Guidance.”
Another global cyber attack was activated on Tuesday, leaving companies across Europe, Australia and even the United States struggling to respond.
This outbreak may be the most sophisticated of a series of attacks initiated after hacking tools were stolen from the National Security Agency and leaked online in April. Similar to the WannaCry attacks in May, the most recent hack involves taking control of computer systems and asking users for digital ransom in order to regain access.
According to a spokesperson from Microsoft, the latest software update used to patch EternalBlue—the Windows software vulnerability that caused previous attacks—should protect against this attack. However, the companies affected may have failed to properly install it. As of Wednesday morning, the following companies had been affected:
- Ukrainian institutions that include the Infrastructure Ministry, postal service, central bank and the country’s largest telephone company
- Russian oil company Rosneft
- The world’s largest container-shipping company A.P. Moller-Maersk
- U.S. pharmaceutical giant Merck
- U.S. food company Mondelez International
- French bank BNP Paribas
- French construction materials company Saint-Gobain
- British marketing company WPP
- German railway company Deutsche Bahn
Although the perpetrators of this outbreak are still unknown, computer specialists have noticed similarities between the ransomware used in this attack and last year’s Petya attack. Like WannaCry, Petya is a quickly spreading worm that affects vulnerable systems. Unlike WannaCry, Petya has multiple ways to spread. This could explain why even victims who applied the EternalBlue patch were affected.
If the most recent attack is related to Petya, it could be far more damaging than WannaCry. Unlike WannaCry, Petya lacks a kill switch to prevent it from spreading. Also, Petya locks and encrypts entire hard drives, while WannaCry only locked individual files.
At the time of this news brief, 30 victims had paid the bitcoin ransom of $300, according to online records, but it isn’t yet clear whether they’ve regained access to their systems. Complicating matters, German email provider Poseo shut down the email account of the hackers in a move that could make it impossible for hackers to restore their victims’ computer access once ransom is paid.
Scurich Insurance will continue to monitor the situation. Contact us if you have any further questions regarding how you can avoid disruptive business interruptions from cyber attacks.
Executive Order on Apprenticeships Expected to Help Manufacturers
President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order that will expand apprenticeship programs across the country. As a result of the order, the number of available apprenticeships is expected to increase and the federal government will increase spending for apprenticeship programs to $200 million per year.
Many manufacturers use apprenticeships to meet employment requirements and help students get hands-on experience that can’t be achieved in a classroom. A larger emphasis on apprenticeships may also help fill an anticipated employee shortage in the manufacturing industry. According to the Manufacturing Institute, there will be 3.4 million manufacturing jobs to fill over the next 10 years.
Although the executive order didn’t set specific goals for the number of apprenticeships to be added, experts believe that up to 5 million apprenticeships could exist in the next 10 years. A clause included in the executive order may also allow existing internships to be categorized as apprenticeships.
Machining Safety Tips
Using machines is common for every manufacturer, but ignoring machining safety can expose you to incredibly high costs. OSHA issued $6.8 million in penalties for machining safety violations in 2015, and the associated costs of medical bills, damaged equipment and replacement personnel is much higher.
Before your employees use any machine, you should conduct a review to ensure that they’re properly trained and that all equipment is in working condition. Also, make sure that machine guards are in place to prevent injuries and that employees wear any required personal protective equipment. For more resources on machining safety, contact us at 831-661-5697 today.
Air Bag Manufacturer Files for Bankruptcy
Japanese auto part supplier Takata recently filed for bankruptcy after many years of managing the largest product recall in U.S. history. At least 16 deaths have been attributed to the company’s faulty air bag inflators, and over 69 million vehicles have been recalled as a result.
Although Takata recently pleaded guilty to a felony charge as part of an agreement with the Justice Department, mounting costs from the recall and associated lawsuits overwhelmed the manufacturer. However, Takata executives stated that filing for bankruptcy will allow them to reorganize their finances and continue shipping replacement parts for affected vehicles.