2013 US Trucking Industry News – Ohio Carrier Ordered to Pay Two Truck Drivers


The OSHA, or the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has ordered Star Air Inc. to pay a fee of $302,000 to two truck drivers in Ohio for terminating, as well as violating the Surface Transportation Assistance Act’s whistleblower provision.

Ohio Carrier

Ohio Carrier

The Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed by the US Congress in April 1971. Its purpose is to assure that working conditions are safe and healthful for working men and women. It authorizes the enforcement of standards that were developed through the Act. This act will assist and encourage the state governments to develop and expand their own health and occupational safety programs. They also provide information, research, and training in the field of occupational health and safety.

OSHA is a part of the United States Department of Labor. The Assistant Secretary for Labor for Occupational Safety and Health is the administrator for OSHA. The administrator answers to the Secretary of Labor, who is a member of the US President’s cabinet.

The OSHA act tackles a lot of private sector employers, as well as their workers. It also covers some public sector employees and workers in all 50 US states, and certain territories. These territories are controlled by the federal authority: Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the District of Columbia among others.

The OSHA’s Whistleblowers Protection Program implements whistleblower provisions of over 20 whistleblower statutes. These statutes protect employees that report violations of different kinds of workplace safety, commercial motor carrier, health insurance reform, transportation agency and maritime laws. The rights that are afforded by whistleblower acts include worker participation in health and safety activities, as well as reporting a violation of the statutes.

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is an area that is concerned with protecting the safety, health, and welfare of people that are involved in work or employment. Goals for occupational health and safety programs include fostering a safe work environment. OSH is also applicable in protecting co-workers, family members, employers, customers, and others who are affected by the workplace environment.

It can be important for moral, legal, and financial reasons. Moral obligations involve protecting the lives and health of their employees. Reasons for the legal practice of OSH relate to the preventative and compensatory effects of laws that protect the safety and health of workers. OSH also reduces employee costs related to injuries and illnesses, which includes medical care, sick leaves, and disability benefit costs. It may involve several interactions between many subject areas, including safety engineering, occupational health psychology, and occupational medicine.

Meanwhile, the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 (STAA) was a transportation funding and policy act in the US Federal Government. This legislation was supported by the Reagan administration, to address concerns regarding infrastructure of surface transportation, such as highways and bridges.

Truck drivers who think that they have suffered retaliation for reporting forms of violations, refusing to commit violations, or engaging in proceedings can report to the US Department of Labor. Under STAA, truck drivers who think that they have suffered a type of adverse employment action (such as discharge, discipline, or denial of advancement) can file a written complaint with the OSHA. This complaint can be either faxed or postmarked to meet the 180-day deadline. If the OSHA concludes that a violation did occur, then it can issue an order that requires reinstatement during further proceedings. Both sides will then have a chance to present their evidence in a recorded hearing before an administrative law judge The decision of the ALJ is reviewed by the Administrative Review Board. Both parties can then appeal to the federal court of appeals.

The Akron Reserve Ammunition Inc. was named as a defendant in the suit, since the company is Star Air’s successor. The drivers that were listed in the suit were stopped by the West Virginia State Police, and cited for carrying an overweight load without a valid license as well as driving without a logbook. The truck also did not have the arms of the company, its home base, or the DOT number displayed.

Following the citation, the drivers refused to continue hauling the load, which led Star Air to terminate both drivers. The two drivers then filed complaints against OSAH, with allegations that Star Air has retaliated against them, which violates the STAA. The judge then ordered Star Air and its previous owner to pay wages to the drivers with a settlement of over $302,000 for a period of three days. If these payments go into default, then the owner of the company will be forced to pay the whole amount that was given during the judgment, which was around $685,785.22.

According to Dr. David Michaels, the assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health, the drivers were fired because they were trying to protect themselves and the driving public. He also stated that truck drivers shouldn’t be forced to drive while they are tired, sick, or in violation of truck weight or hours of service requirements.

Dr. Michaels says that the OSHA will continue to defend all truck drivers of America against dishonest employees who illegally retaliate these drivers who have their right to drive safely.

These hours-of-service requirements are designed to help in stopping Commercial vehicle related accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Commercial drivers are suggested to have on-duty hours and rest periods.

Relative to this, the FMCSA has announced that they will be holding four listening sessions in order to collect information and comments on a rule-making proposal on the hours-of-service requirements. The FMCSA will hear about topics such as rest time and sleeper berth usage time, as well as the effects from the current hours-of-service on these drivers’ loading and unloading times. These public listening sessions will give opportunities for a wide cross-section of stakeholders to give views, comments, and relevant research on this federal safety regulation proposal.


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