The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration signed an agreement with OSHA to combat coercion of commercial drivers, and to exchange safety and health allegations received by one agency that fall under the authority of the other.
“This strengthened partnership with OSHA extends our inter-agency collaboration specifically to include the sharing of reports of alleged coercion – companies forcing or intimidating truck or bus drivers to violate federal safety regulations,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro.
“Commercial truck and bus companies that knowingly endanger the motoring public, or retaliate against whistleblowing employees, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” she added in the July 24 announcement.
On the following day Ferro announced that she will step down as FMCSA administrator in late August to become the President and CEO of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.
In another development, FMCSA seeks public comments that are due August 11 on a proposed rule regarding driver coercion. The rules will apply to all parties in the supply chain, including shippers, receivers and transportation intermediaries
Under the FMCSA rules, coercion is defined as a threat to withhold, or the actual withholding of, current or future business, employment or work opportunities from a driver for objecting to the operation of a commercial motor vehicle.
Coercion can be found to apply when drivers are forced to violate regulations covering hours of service, routing and hazardous materials. Any person found to have coerced a driver will face a possible maximum civil penalty of $11,000 which can be assessed for each violation.
OSHA also agreed earlier with the National Labor Relations Board to extend the deadline for whistleblower safety claims. (AA, 7-15-14, P. 4)