Preventable or not – June 2004

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Research and Special Programs Administration withdrew an advance notice of proposed rulemaking requesting comments on a research study conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute on the dynamics of tank-vehicle rollover and the implications for rollover-protection devices. RSPA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have decided further study is needed. For more information, visit this site and search Docket No. 5921.

Sunlight Coach Inc., a motor coach operation based in Summit, Ill., was ordered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last month to cease interstate operations for failing to comply with the motor carrier safety regulations. The agency said Sunlight operated motor coaches in an unsafe condition, had inadequate maintenance and showed disregard for the safety regs, including the hours-of-service rules.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration seeks comment until July 6 on its Site-Specific Targeting inspection program to determine how the program is accomplishing its goal of targeting the nation’s most hazardous workplaces for inspection. The request for comment appeared in the May 6 issue of the Federal Register. For more information, visit this site.

OSHA is extending until June 16 the informal public comment period on two guidance documents about the workplace chemical safety hazard communication initiative announced in March. For more information, visit this site.

John Doe was towing an empty tank trailer behind his 1989 conventional tractor. He knew from long experience that a tractor without ABS pulling an ABS-less empty trailer makes for wildly unbalanced braking. As if he needed a sign from the gods that trouble might loom ahead, light rain began hitting the road, making a slippery emulsion out of the oil and dust.

Doe recognized the need to minimize his stopping distance to keep his rig stable should the unexpected occur. So he dropped his speed to 35 mph, well below the posted 50 mph limit. That, he thought, would be sufficient given the lack of traffic congestion on the level, four-lane road, which had signal-controlled access and good visibility.

Soon, Doe approached an intersection with another route that came in from the right. The light remained green as he approached the crossroads. Just before Doe actually entered the intersection, he caught sight of a passenger car abruptly turning left in front of him. Doe had not been especially alert to the potential for such an act. The car’s driver apparently had not only not bothered to activate his turn signal but, in fact, had run right through a red left turn lane signal.

The good news was that Doe was able to stop quickly enough to completely yield the right-of-way to the mad motorist cutting across in front of him. The bad news was that the jackknife produced by Doe’s instinctive panic stop caused $3,500 damage to the cab corner and trailer fender skirt. Doe was certain that, given his conservative running speed and the motorist’s completely improper behavior, he would be off the hook this time.

Much to his surprise, a warning letter declaring the accident preventable showed up in his mailbox two days later. Naturally, he appealed to the National Safety Council’s accident review committee.

Doe was nearly struck dumb when he received word that the committee had upheld the ruling. Committee members noted that John was still “driving too fast for conditions” because he “failed to anticipate the car might attempt to run the red light, which forced him to take evasive action, resulting in equipment damage.” Doe was surprised at the accident review committee’s unforgiving stance on preventability that requires drivers to be prepared for every eventuality.

ATA recognizes security, loss prevention efforts
The American Trucking Associations in April recognized ABF Freight System and a manager at UPS Supply Chain Solutions for excellence in trucking security and FFE Transportation Services for its claims and loss prevention efforts. The honors were presented at the ATA Safety and Loss Prevention Management Council’s Loss Prevention & Security annual conference in Scottsdale, Ariz.

ABF, which employs 16 regional security managers throughout North America, received the 2004 Excellence in Security Award. Each security manager is a former law enforcement official who works closely with ABF management and local, state and federal authorities and regulators.

ATA selected Richard Germer, global security manager for UPS Supply Chain Solutions, as its Security Professional of the Year. A 28-year veteran of UPS, Germer heads one of the largest global security groups in the trucking industry.

FFE Transportation Services Inc., part of Frozen Food Express Industries Inc., received the 2004 Excellence in Claims/Loss Prevention Award. The company has made loss prevention training a priority.

SLPMC to hold safety/HR meeting
The American Trucking Associations’ Safety & Loss Prevention Management Council has scheduled its annual Safety & Human Resources National Conference and Exhibition for Sept. 19-22 in Minneapolis. This year’s theme is The Business of Safety: A Corporate Approach to Trucking Safety and Human Resources. Sessions address, among other things, designing a safety/human resources business plan, finding the next generation of employees, the science of reducing workplace injuries, and determining your carrier’s risk exposure due to technology. The meeting also includes an exhibition and a day devoted principally to technical committee meetings.