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Published On: Tue, Sep 30th, 2014

Safer Fleets: OSHA and FMCSA Join Forces to Protect Truck Drivers

Trucker safety is always a concern, and it’s growing every year due to the shortage of truckers and increased demands being placed on existing drivers. Well, now, OSHA and the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have teamed up to sign a memorandum of understanding to further strengthen the cooperation between the agencies so that anti-retaliation provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act will be followed by employers.

The STAA is a law that protects truck drivers and other individuals who work for a commercial trucking company or commercial carrier from retaliation for reporting violations of the law or activities regarding motor vehicle safety, health, or security issues.

Rough Road Sign public domain

Rough Road Sign public domain

How Regulators Hope The Partnership Will Help

The memorandum is supposed to facilitate better communication between the agencies and help them coordinate efforts better to ending abuses by employers. For example, under the law, employers may not discriminate against employees for reporting them to the authorities for violations of safety laws.

However, some employers engage in this practice anyway. This memorandum will help curb this practice. In some cases, victims may contact lawyers, like Keith Kofsky, to help them settle a case with their employer. However, this doesn’t always solve the problem as the employee is out of a job.

By strengthening information-sharing services, both OSHA and the FMCSA hope to provide remedies under the law that can reinstate employees and help recover fines from employers.

Reported Cases

There were more than 2,800 cases files under the STAA over the last nine years. Many employers are either unaware of anti-discrimination rules or believe they will not be discovered because the employee can be intimidated into compliance.

Critics

Critics of the memorandum, and the law, say that businesses aren’t getting a fair shake. Some laws may be outdated, employers who are antagonistic towards employees may find other, legitimate, reasons for terminating the employee, and employees may no longer have the morale to keep working for an employer that they no longer respect.

This leads to a downstream effect of the employee’s production quality going down, which may cause real harm to the employer over time.

Will The Memorandum Help?

The memorandum does not change any existing laws. Instead, it attempts to strengthen information-sharing protocols that are already in place. So, rather than curb current employer practices, it may just make it easier for the two agencies to communicate with one another.

It’s unclear as to whether this will directly translate to better enforcement or protections for employees. However, it may help regulators do a better job of uncovering details of wrongdoing under the law.

Employers will also need to be made aware of the memorandum so that they can revise their compliance procedures accordingly.

Under the OSHA of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful work environment for employees. OSHA’s job is to guarantee these conditions exist for all employees of a company. Regulators are optimistic that this is just the next evolution in making that process more efficient.

Guest Author :

Keith Kofsky, Esq, has dedicated himself to helping victims of negligent conduct. His articles are aimed at giving people the facts they need to deal with life’s unexpected situations. Look for his informative posts on a variety of blog sites.

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