DOT UPDATES DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING REQUIREMENTS

August 02, 2001

The U. S. Department of Transportation announced that it is issuing several rules to update its drug and alcohol testing requirements.

These new rules supplement the department's new drug and alcohol testing procedures published in December 2000 and which became effective Aug. 1, 2001.

The first of these rules is a set of technical amendments that clarify or correct a number of details in the regulation published last December. The amendments emphasize the obligation of participants to start using a new, simpler drug testing collection form, but provide a three-month period during which the uncorrected use of the old form will not cause tests to be canceled. The rule also provides that "validity testing" of urine specimens will remain voluntary until the Department of Health and Human Services publishes a final rule governing laboratory procedures for validity testing.

Each of the department's operating administrations is also publishing a "conforming" rule to make its own drug and alcohol testing requirements fully consistent with the DOT rules. Previously, for example, each operating administration rule contained return-to-duty procedures for employees who had tested positive for drugs or alcohol. Those requirements are now consolidated in the new department-wide rule. In order to avoid duplication, the operating administrations' amendments will delete the return-to-duty provisions from their rules. The conforming rules of the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and Federal Transit Administration were issued this week. The rules for the Federal Motor Carrier Administration, Research and Special Programs Administration, and U.S. Coast Guard will be issued soon.

In addition, the department is publishing a document responding to comments on certain policy issues raised concerning the new requirements. Members of the maritime industry argued that a provision of the December 2000 rule requiring employers to check on the previous drug and alcohol testing results of applicants for safety-sensitive jobs should not apply to their industry. The department explained that this requirement is important for safety and does not create an undue burden. In addition, transportation unions asked for greater access to laboratory documents concerning drug testing. The department anticipates asking for additional comment on this request in the future, since laboratories and other parties may have information to contribute on this issue.

All the documents have been posted on the department's docket website at http://dms.dot.gov, docket numbers OST-1999-6578, FAA-2000-8431, FTA-2000-8513, and FRA-2000-8583. The documents also will be available at the department's drug and alcohol testing web site, http://www.dot.gov/ost/dapc, and will be published soon in the Federal Register.


BERYLLIUM DISEASE, "A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN"

A Chicago Tribune investigation has found that thousands of Americans are at risk for developing a chronic, potentially fatal lung disease because companies have exposed them to the highly toxic metal beryllium without adequate safeguards or warnings.

The story by reporter Sam Roe was published in the Sunday, July 29, Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune investigation, based on thousands of court, industry and government documents and dozens of interviews with health officials and business owners, found:

  • Many businesses are not taking basic precautions, such as air monitoring. In a spot check of 30 businesses across the country working with beryllium, the Tribune found that none were following the safeguards recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

  • Warnings from beryllium manufacturers and distributors are often inaccurate, misleading and incomplete. Of 10 warnings reviewed by the Tribune, nine failed to abide by OSHA rules and four failed to even mention beryllium disease.

  • OSHA rarely inspects companies that handle beryllium. Several Chicago- area businesses working with the metal have not been inspected in 10 years.

Workers in a variety of businesses, including the electronics, recycling, machining and dental industries have been harmed by the toxic dust of beryllium, which slowly damages victims' lungs. Beryllium disease was once found primarily in the defense industry because of the metal's use in nuclear bombs and other weapons. Though still rare, the illness now is emerging in private and consumer industries, where beryllium is valued for its light weight and superior strength.

Roe's report documents the stories of individuals and businesses and their experiences with beryllium and beryllium disease. The story is available on http://chicagotribune.com.


OSHA CITATIONS ALLEGE VIOLATIONS OF RECORDKEEPING, COKE OVEN, AND BENZENE STANDARDS BY NATIONAL STEEL DIVISION

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations to the Granite City Division of the National Steel Corporation, Granite City, Ill., alleging seven safety and health violations with penalties totaling $101,000.

The citations allege violations of OSHA's recordkeeping, coke oven and benzene standards. The citations allege failure to record certain injuries and illnesses during 1999 and 2000 and to maintain or adequately prepare certain supplemental records regarding injuries and illnesses.

The citations also allege failure to provide physical examinations to certain employees exposed to benzene or who worked in the coke oven area as required by OSHA standards. The citations were classified as serious, other-than-serious and unclassified.

OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which a workplace hazard could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in the death or serious physical harm of an employee and that the employer knew of the condition or should have known through reasonable diligence.

OSHA defines an other-than-serious violation as one in which a violative condition exists but would not result in the death or serious physical harm of an employee.

OSHA and Granite City Division settled the citations on the day of issuance, July 20, 2001 by executing an informal settlement agreement.


TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT PROPOSES TO STRENGTHEN CDL LICENSING REQUIREMENTS, SANCTIONS

DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed changes that would toughen licensing and sanctioning requirements for drivers of large trucks and buses.

New licensing requirements proposed in the rulemaking include establishing a new school bus endorsement for CDL drivers, expanding the driver records check for CDL applicants to include all states where the driver was previously licensed to drive any type of vehicle, and prohibiting hardship licenses for CDL drivers who lose their privilege to drive.

The proposed regulation also expands the number of offenses for which states must impose sanctions on CDL drivers who violate federal motor carrier safety regulations. These changes would add three new serious traffic violations to those that require the disqualification of CDL drivers convicted of a second or subsequent offense. The three new serious violations for drivers include driving a CMV without having obtained a CDL; driving without having a CDL in their possession; and not having met the minimum testing standards for the specific class CMV being operated or for the type of cargo being transported. The proposal also would require that drivers be disqualified after their first conviction of driving while suspended, driving while disqualified, or causing a fatality.

The regulation would require for the first time that states send traffic violation information, when the violations result in a loss of driving privileges, to a driver's home state, and that this information be maintained on the driver's record. Under the proposed regulation, states also would be required to have a record of all violations committed by CDL drivers or drivers illegally operating a CMV. The proposal would prohibit states from masking a driver's convictions from the driver record.

The proposed regulation would authorize FMCSA to make emergency grants to help states meet all CDL licensing standards.

Recognizing that a state CDL program in substantial noncompliance with the FMCSRs could threaten highway safety, the proposal also would authorize FMCSA to withhold Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) funding from states that do not comply with CDL requirements. FMCSA would also be authorized to de-certify a state's ability to issue, transfer, or renew CDLs, although licenses issued by such states before de-certification would remain valid until the licenses' expiration dates. FMCSA proposed that states complying with CDL requirements be permitted to issue non-resident CDLs to drivers living in de-certified States.

Under the proposed regulation, FMCSA would have the authority to disqualify, on an emergency basis, CDL drivers who pose an imminent hazard: that is, drivers whose history shows they are most likely to be involved in a serious crash.

The proposed regulation responds to requirements of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act, which in turn amended the CMVSA and would apply to operators subject to the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 (CMVSA). Written comments on this notice of proposed rulemaking should be sent by Oct. 25, 2001, to the USDOT Docket Facility, Attn: Docket No. FMCSA-01-9709, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590-0001; FAX: (202) 493-2251. The rule also is on the Internet and can be viewed at: http://dms.dot.gov/ (see the docket number above). Comments may be submitted electronically at http://dmses.dot.gov/submit.


NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL OFFERS ANSI A10.8 SAFETY REQUIREMENTS FOR SCAFFOLDING

The National Safety Council has released for sale ANSI A10.8, Safety Requirements for Scaffolding. This standard establishes safety requirements for the construction, operation, maintenance, and use of scaffolds used in the construction, alteration, demolition and maintenance of buildings and structures. The Accredited Standards Committee on Safety in Construction and Demolition Operations, A10, developed this standard, accredited by the American National Standards Institute.

ANSI A10.8 Safety Requirements for Scaffolding, approved on January 30, 2001, does not cover permanently installed suspended scaffold systems or aerial platforms. ANSI A10.8 is one in a series of safety standards developed by the Accredited Standards Committee A10. The purpose of the standards in the A10 series is to serve as guides for contractors, labor, and equipment manufacturers in construction and demolition industries.

ANSI A10.8 Safety Requirements for Scaffolding is available from the National Safety Council. This standard and other A10 standards can be obtained by calling 1-800-621-7619.


FAA PUBLISHES LEAFLET ON AIR RAGE

In an effort to educate the flying public about the consequences of interfering with flight crewmembers performing their duties aboard an aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has published a leaflet entitled "Safety is Everyone's Responsibility."

"Flight crewmembers are critical to the safety and security of the skies and the flying public," said FAA Administrator Jane F. Garvey. "Unruly passenger behavior cannot be tolerated."

The leaflet, which can be downloaded from the Internet at http://www.faa.gov/apa/newsroom.htm, outlines the penalties for unruly passenger behavior. The act of threatening, intimidating or physically assaulting flight crewmembers, or other unruly passenger behavior is subject to civil and criminal penalties.

United Airlines will place this leaflet in the airline ticket jacket it issues to passengers at its five hub locations at Denver, Washington Dulles, Los Angeles, Chicago O'Hare and San Francisco airports. Passengers are encouraged to report any aviation safety concerns to the gate agent or flight crew. In addition, any incidents or concerns also may be reported to the aviation safety hotline on 1-800-255-1111.