PAGO PAGO FIRM FINED FOR HAZARDOUS WORK CONDITIONS

February 22, 2001

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a concrete block manufacturer for three serious violations of federal health and safety laws following an investigation into the death of a worker at the company's manufacturing facility at Daniel Inoyue Industrial Park in Tafuna.

CBT Lumber & Hardware, Inc., of Pago Pago, American Samoa, received the OSHA citation and was assessed $13,500 in penalties for several safety violations, including serious violations for failing to guard the concrete mixer's rotating blades, which caused the injury, and failing to follow standard lockout/tagout procedures to prevent the start-up of the mixer's blades during cleaning, which also contributed to the accident.

The OSHA investigation of CBT Lumber & Hardware was prompted by the November 15, 2000 death of an employee, 48 year old Paituli Malakai, who was chipping and cleaning hard concrete out of the mixer's tub when his leg was amputated by the blades of a concrete mixing machine.

Upon inspecting the facility, OSHA inspectors found additional violations unrelated to the worker's death. OSHA issued citations for serious violations for the failure to have machine guards on portable tools, conveyor belt pulleys and drive belt pulleys. OSHA also issued a citation for other-than-serious violations which included failure to have stair rails and guardrails on platforms and lack of proper electrical connections and covers.

OSHA cites for serious violations only when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer either knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

The company has 15 working days from the date of the notice to contest the citations.


TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY ANNOUNCES GRANTS OF $38.2 MILLION TO INCREASE SEAT BELT USE

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced that 43 states will share approximately $38.2 million in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) grants for states that develop innovative projects to increase seat belt use.

According to NHTSA, seat belts are the most effective safety device in vehicles and would save thousands more lives annually if everyone buckled up. In 2000, seat belt use in the United States was about 71 percent.

The goal of this grant program is to find creative new approaches to increase seat belt use across the nation with a major focus on highly visible enforcement of seat belt laws, coupled with public information and education.

The grants are authorized by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). The Act provides for $500 million over five years for states to increase seat belt use and another $700 million over six years for states to enact and enforce tough laws to prevent alcohol-impaired driving.

The innovative project grants were awarded competitively. All 50 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were eligible to apply. The grant amounts for fiscal year 2001 range from $204,000 to nearly $2.9 million.

Maryland and Ohio this year are receiving these funds for the first time.

For a table listing the states receiving grants and their grant amounts go to http://www.dot.gov/affairs/nhtsa1101.htm.


DOT SEEKS COMMENTS ON PROPOSED PILOT PROGRAM TO ALLOW YOUNGER DRIVERS IN TRUCKS

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is asking for comments on a proposed pilot program to allow drivers 18 to 20 years of age to drive trucks in interstate commerce under strict conditions.

The request for comments grew out of a petition by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) attempting to address difficulties reported by its members in recruiting qualified commercial vehicle drivers. Under current federal regulations, such drivers must be at least 21 years of age.

The TCA represents truckload carriers operating within North America who employ both company drivers and owner-operators. Several member companies of the TCA have agreed to participate in the pilot program if it is approved.

Pilot programs such as this are authorized by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). It provides the U.S. Secretary of Transportation authority to grant exemptions from the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations (FMCSRs) so that alternatives to regulations can be evaluated.

Under the terms of the proposal, each applicant driver would be subject to a minimum of 48 weeks of intensive classroom training, driving instruction, and supervision designed to lead the trainee to full-time employment as an interstate commercial driver. This training would include mandatory attendance at an approved truck driver training school for a minimum of 22 weeks and 8 weeks of training in a motor carrier's "driver finishing" program.

"Driver finishing" would be a course of instruction and on-the-job training offered by motor carriers to further develop the younger driver's basic skills, as well as develop greater maturity and judgment, under the daily direction and guidance of an experienced driver trainer. This, in turn, would be followed by 18 weeks of team driving with an experienced driver. Younger drivers would be required to pass the performance standards of the entire 48-week program and reach the age of 19 before beginning solo driving.

Under the proposal, a consortium of participating motor carriers and schools would train approximately 1,000 drivers who are currently under the federal age requirement of 21. TCA expects that up to 20 carriers and about 10 schools would participate in the pilot program.

If approved, the FMCSA would closely monitor drivers, driver training schools, and motor carriers participating in the pilot program to ensure they comply with all program requirements and FMCSRs. Participants found not to be in compliance will be immediately removed from the program and be subject to appropriate administrative and civil sanctions.

The FMCSA is interested in public comment on whether such a pilot program could ensure a level of safety that is equal to or greater than the level of safety achieved by CMV drivers 21 years of age or older who are not subject to specialized selection, training, and monitoring beyond that otherwise required by the commercial driver license.

Written comments on this proposal should be sent by May 21, 2001 to the USDOT Docket Facility, Attn: Docket No. FMCSA-2000-8410, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590-0001. The proposal stemming from this petition is on the Internet and can be viewed after searching at http://dms.dot.gov/. Comments also may be submitted electronically at this site.


TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY ANNOUNCES FINAL RULE TO PERMIT SAFE MODIFICATION OF VEHICLES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

To increase mobility for those with physical disabilities, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced a final NHTSA rule to streamline the regulatory process for modifiers who adapt passenger vehicles for use by people with disabilities.

The new rule identifies specific features that may be safely altered, if necessary, when vehicles are modified for people with disabilities.

"Streamlining the regulatory process for certain of these vehicle modifications will help ensure that more Americans with disabilities enjoy greater mobility," Secretary Mineta said.

Individuals with disabilities are often unable to drive or ride in a passenger vehicle unless it has been specially modified to their needs. Some adaptations, such as installation of mechanical hand controls or a left foot accelerator, are relatively simple. Others, such as the installation of a joystick that controls steering, acceleration and braking, or the lowering of the vehicle floor, are more complicated.

NHTSA estimates there are more than 383,000 vehicles on the road today that are modified for use by people with disabilities. That number is expected to increase as the population ages and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) increases travel and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The new rule ties in with President Bush's New Freedom Initiative. The Bush Administration is asking Congress to significantly increase funding for low-interest loans so that more Americans with disabilities can purchase assistive technology and to ensure that improved technologies are available in the future.

The final rule is in NHTSA's Docket No. 01-8667 and was posted in the Feb. 21, 2001, Federal Register. The rule will be effective on Apr. 21.

The new rule also is posted at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/adaptivemotor.html.


FMCSA FINES OREGON MOTOR CARRIER $368,200 FOR MULTIPLE SAFETY VIOLATIONS

DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that Rudco Transport, Inc., of Clackamas, Ore., a for-hire motor carrier that primarily hauls general freight, was served with a "Notice of Claim" letter for $368,200 in civil penalties.

The FMCSA uses the Notice of Claim to initiate civil actions for violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and the Hazardous Materials Regulations. This claim letter alleges that Rudco Transport, Inc., committed multiple violations of the FMCSRs, discovered during an investigation conducted by FMCSA's Oregon Division.

FMCSA investigators issued a proposed unsatisfactory safety rating and cited Rudco president, Sergey Rudnitsky, for violations involving drug and alcohol testing, commercial driver's licenses standards and requirements, qualification of drivers, and inspection and maintenance of motor vehicles. In addition, it is alleged that Rudco allowed for the falsification of records of duty status and allowed its drivers to drive when they had already exceeded their hours of service limits. The company reportedly employs approximately 88 drivers and operates 64 trucks.

Additional information about federal motor carrier safety regulations and the FMCSA's efforts to increase national motor carrier safety is on the Internet at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov.