Stay on hours-of-service rules leaves some worried about safety

by Kara Dolan-West | Dec 23, 2014 | Workers' Compensation

Whether you work in an office building or your office is the cab of a semi truck, you are entitled to a safe work environment. This is true not only at the state level but the federal level as well. Employers who violate state and federal safety laws should be held accountable for their actions, especially if their negligence puts employees at risk of serious injury or death. This is a fact our readers know all too well because it’s something we have highlighted many times before on this blog.

But what happens when employers are unclear on the safety regulations they are supposed to follow? What if a sudden change in the laws is not fully relayed to all businesses within an affected industry? The need for clarification could become highly necessary, especially because liability and compensation hang in the balance.

This need for clarification may be happening across the trucking industry this month because of a congressional change to hours-of-service regulations. As some of our Ohio readers may remember, these regulations were changed back in 2013 in an effort to reduce drowsy-driving accidents across the nation. But the rules that required rest breaks and shorter work weeks fell under scrutiny recently, leading to a stay on enforcement of the changes.

The stay on enforcing the changes means that hours-of-service regulations will revert back to their pre-2013 state. Truck drivers will now have more flexibility when it comes to taking rest breaks in relation to their hours of operation.

Some truckers and companies within the trucking industry see the stay as a good thing, pointing out that it forces the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to consider whether the regulation changes would truly provide a safe work environment and reduce the number of work-related truck accidents.

Opponents to the stay see things differently though, noting that this could create discrepancies within the industry with some trucking companies choosing to follow the pre-2013 rules while others choose to follow the 2013 changes. This inconsistency could create issues when assessing liability for a work-related accident. It may even impact a worker’s claim for compensation as well.

Only time will tell if these concerns are warranted or not.

Source: Overdrive, “34-hour restart rules to be suspended: Congress clears legislation to roll back 2013 provisions,” Todd Dills and James Jaillet, Dec. 14, 2014

Tags: Workers' Compensation