NCCI new class code for furloughed employees

From MTAC partner Bouvier Insurance.

As a result of COVID-19, many businesses have been forced to furlough employees. In some cases, businesses are continuing to pay furloughed employees despite the fact that they are not performing any work duties. The rating bureau for Workers Compensation Insurance, NCCI, has filed a rule change to report payroll differently.

If your insurance carrier has implemented this ruling, payments for paid furloughed employees will be excluded from premium calculations at the time of audit. If your carrier is implementing this ruling, in order to take advantage of this benefit, follow the steps below:

  • It is imperative you keep separate, accurate and verifiable records
  • Track the amount of payroll for paid furloughed employees separately
  • Report payroll for paid furloughed employees under classification 0012

Very important: If paid furlough employee payroll is not tracked and reported separately, these payments will be assigned to the classification code for the work normally performed by the employee.

To see if your carrier is applying this ruling or if you have any questions, please contact us for further review. We are here to help.

Click here to see the filing from NCCI.

Note from MTAC: Bouvier has stated that they are happy to discuss this information with any MTAC members who have questions, even if they are not currently a member of the MTAC/Bouvier/Acadia safety group program. For questions, contact Lindsey Irvin, VP of National Accounts for Bouvier at (860) 232-4491 Ext 148.

FMCSA extends Emergency Declaration through June 14

From FMCSA.

The extension of Emergency Declaration 2020-002 provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19, including transportation to meet immediate needs for:

  1. medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
  2. supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants;
  3. food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores;
  4. immediate precursor raw materials — such as paper, plastic or alcohol — that are required and to be used for the manufacture of items in categories (1), (2) or (3);
  5. fuel;
  6. liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems;
  7. equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19;
  8. persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes; and
  9. persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.

Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.

See the complete declaration from FMCSA online.

COVID-19 disinformation activity

From US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

As the nation and the world continues to fight against COVID-19, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) continues to work on products and other resources intended to help critical infrastructure stakeholders improve their resilience and reduce their exposure to COVID-19 related risks.

Today (May 8), CISA issued a new CISA Insights titled, COVID-19 Disinformation Activity. This CISA Insights provides guidance to deter false information and conspiracy theories related to COVID-19. It provides factual information to counteract inaccurate claims and provides simple steps the public can take to fact check information and minimize the risk of spreading false or misleading content.

As the nation’s risk advisor, we are sharing information to help you and your team reduce risks associated with COVID-19. That includes our latest product, a CISA Insights on disinformation campaigns, often from foreign adversaries, that are seeking to take advantage of COVID-19 concerns.

We encourage you to share this publication with anyone who might be able to use it. We will continue to keep you updated as more information becomes available.

To read the latest CISA Insights, visit CISA.gov/insights. For authoritative information and resources on COVID-19 — including situation reports, guidance, and more, visit the CDC’s website and CISA.gov/coronavirus.

CDC issues COVID-19 guidance for truck drivers and employers

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued COVID-19 related guidance for both truck drivers and their employers. Below are excerpts of lengthy guidance for both drivers and their employers. Members can view the complete guidance for both drivers and their employers online.

Drivers: As a long-haul truck driver, how can I protect myself and slow the spread?

  • Notify your supervisor and stay home if having symptoms.
  • Make a plan with your employer and your family as to what to do if you become sick while you’re on the road. Include where to stop, where and how to seek medical advice and treatment, and plans for freight delivery.
  • Follow CDC-recommended steps if you are sick. You should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.
  • Follow CDC-recommended precautions and notify your supervisor if you are well but have a sick family member at home with COVID-19.
  • Limit close contact with others by maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet when possible.
    • Limit time spent outside of the truck cab during fueling, loading and unloading, and at rest and truck stops.
    • Use paperless, electronic invoicing for fueling, deliveries, and other tasks, when available.
    • Contact facilities in advance to make an appointment for unloading of cargo. Be aware that some facilities may not grant access to restrooms, and plan as best you can.
    • Use radio/phone to talk with dock managers or other drivers, if possible.
    • Pack food, water, and supplies to limit the number of stops.
    • Avoid shaking hands.
    • Keep your truck well-ventilated.

Employers: What steps should my employer take?

Employers should have a COVID-19 response plan to protect drivers, following CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers. This plan should be shared with you and your coworkers. Employers should:

Reduce transmission among employees

  • Take steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if a driver is sick.
    • Actively encourage sick drivers to stay home.
    • Sick drivers diagnosed with COVID-19 shouldn’t return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.
  • Provide drivers with accurate information about COVID-19, how it spreads, and risk of exposure.
    • Be aware that some drivers may be at higher risk for serious illness, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions. Put in place specific policies to minimize face-to-face contact between these drivers, or assign work tasks that allow them to maintain a distance of six feet from other workers, customers, and visitors.
    • Provide training to drivers on proper handwashing practices and other routine preventative measures. This will help prevent the spread of many diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Provide drivers with all PPE (including vests, safety glasses, hard hats) that they might need while on the road so that the driver does not need to borrow PPE from shippers.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol for truck cabs.
  • Provide tissues and small trash cans for truck cabs.
  • Take additional precautions to address risks associated with ride-alongs or team driving (two drivers in the cab on a long-haul run) when they cannot be avoided. For example, install a removable barrier between the driver and passenger that does not obstruct the task of driving and/or to separate sleeper berth.

The complete guidance for truck drivers and their employers is available online.

Free lunch for truckers on I-95

From the New London Day.

Whelen Engineering Inc., in partnership with the Connecticut Motor Transport Association and the state Department of Transportation, provided free lunch and masks to truckers at the Interstate 95 south rest stop in North Stonington.

Food was served by the Norwich-based Rustic StrEats food truck.

Joint research confirms COVID-19 impact on trucking

From ATRI.

The American Transportation Research Institute and the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association Foundation today released important research on impacts that the Covid pandemic is having on all aspects of trucking operations, including deliveries, travel times, detention and truck parking. Most importantly, the research provides recommendations and guidance on future strategies should another national disaster strike.

Key findings include:

  • Long-haul trips are down considerably as container imports at ports dried up. At the same time, local trips under 100 miles increased by more than 100 percent.
  • While certain segments of the industry, such as medical devices, perishable foods and paper products, saw solid Covid-related increases in truck traffic – nearly 50 percent of respondents described freight levels as “somewhat” to “much” lower due to Covid.
  • Nearly 70 percent of specialized and tank truck operations were negatively impacted. In nearly every instance, smaller fleets reported greater negative impacts than larger fleets.
  • More than 40 percent of respondents said that truck parking was not any worse due to the Covid pandemic, but by fleet size, the larger fleets did describe truck parking as more difficult to find during the pandemic.
  • The research confirmed that driver detention generally did not change due to Covid; however, owner-operators and small fleets experienced much worse detention delays relative to larger fleets.
  • In terms of disaster planning, almost 80 percent of owner-operators and small fleets do not have any plan in place for managing operations during natural disasters.
  • The trucking industry generally has a favorable attitude towards state and federal responses, policies and programs set up to address the pandemic, with the federal response viewed as more favorable than the state responses.
  • The trucking industry’s perceptions about the country’s economic situation over the next several months leans slightly pessimistic – both in terms of freight movement and consumer spending.

You can download and review the full report online.

Economy shrinks 4.8% in Q1 as result of Coronavirus

From Transport Topics.

The U.S. economy contracted by 4.8% on an annualized rate in the first quarter, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, which released the gross domestic product figures April 29.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, “The decline in the first-quarter GDP was, in part, due to the response to the spread of COVID-19 as governments issued stay-at-home orders in March. This led to rapid changes in demand, as businesses and schools switched to remote work or canceled operations and consumers canceled, restricted or redirected their spending.”

The drop is the sharpest since the GDP plunged 8.4% in the fourth quarter of 2008 during the peak of the financial crisis.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

Temporary COVID-19 response New York truck rest stops open April 15

Truck drivers provide New York City with the food and goods that keep it running. To help truckers safely meet Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMSCA) mandatory rest periods, the city has established temporary rest areas at two strategic freight hubs as part of its COVID-19 response.

Each area will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for rest periods during the day or overnight, with bathrooms, mobile lights, trash cans, and security patrol. Drivers should keep their vehicles secure, as the city is not responsible for any stolen items.

See this flyer for descriptions and maps of the rest stops in the Bronx and Staten Island.

Managing your unoccupied premises

From MTAC partner Acadia Insurance

Unoccupied buildings may be at risk of fire caused by arson or an electrical malfunction, vandalism, loss of materials or property damage from break-ins, unapproved use by squatters, and/or general deterioration from natural causes. Although the building may be temporarily closed, property owners and business owners should follow certain measures to help reduce the risk of loss or damage occurring while the building is not in use.

Before Shutting Down

  • To prevent pipes from freezing, any heating units should be adjusted so that the temperature in the building is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or greater
  • Mail delivery services should be put on hold or redirected
  • Unnecessary building contents should be removed, including any combustible materials
  • Employee keys and access passes should be collected

Weekly Inspections

  • The premises should be inspected on a weekly basis at a minimum
  • All inspections should be formally documented
  • Any identified damage should be reported and mitigated as soon as possible

See the complete post from Acadia Insurance online.

Gov. Lamont Executive Order on Face Coverings

Governor Ned Lamont has issued an Executive Order requiring face coverings in certain situations in public, and in the workplace. The order is effective at 8 p.m. on Monday, April 20, 2020. The Governor’s Executive Order required the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to update their Safe Workplace rules to incorporate the face covering order, and DECD has update those rules, which can be seen here.

The main points of the updated Safe Workplace rules are as follows:

Masks or Cloth Face Coverings Required

  • Each employee shall be required to wear a mask or other cloth material that covers his or her mouth and nose at all times while in the workplace. Employers shall issue such masks or cloth face coverings to their employees. In the event an employer is unable to provide masks or cloth face coverings to employees because of shortages or supply chain difficulties, employers must provide the materials and CDC tutorial about how to create a cloth face covering, or compensate employees for the reasonable and necessary costs employees expend on such materials to make their own masks or cloth face covering.
  • Nothing in these rules shall require the use of a mask or cloth face covering by anyone for whom doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition.
  • If a person declines to wear a mask or cloth face covering because of a medical condition as described above, such person shall not be required to produce medical documentation verifying the stated condition.

MTAC recommends that members complete a full review of the Safe Workplace rules, because it has additional rules and guidance on the following:

  • Controlling contact between employees and other employees or customers
  • Eliminating transmission points
  • Guidelines for essential employees
  • Guidelines for employees who had close contact with a person with symptoms of or have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Guidelines for workplace illness, additional rules specific to construction sites