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May 2011

Transportation Resources

Klatt Randy Posted by Randy Klatt

It seems that folks are always asking questions about federal law concerning their truck, van, pickup, dump truck, or tractor trailer. There is a trailer load of regulations and guidelines from DOT, but also from OSHA, FMCSA, NHTSA, NTSB, and probably a lot more from other alphabet soup-like organizations. Although compliance based safety has limitations, it is an important part of any company-wide program. All questions can’t possibly be answered in this format, but the following resources should help. 

For a comprehensive list of topics, links, and FAQs from DOT, check out this website:
https://ntl.custhelp.com/app/answers/list. Also, www.dot.gov can provide a great starting point for a specific topic you have questions about. 

A concise review of the regulations regarding DOT drug testing can be found at: http://www.dot.gov/ost/dapc/odapc/v3_slide0001.htm

Federal regulations regarding truck-mounted auxiliary fuel tanks can be found at:
http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=06a02805e8c88845479acad50283a183&rgn=div6&view=text&node=49:5.1.1.2.36.5&idno=49

If you want to know DOT records on a motor carrier’s out-of-service rates, moving violations or inspection results, they can be found at: http://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/CompanySnapshot.aspx. If you find errors in your company record, they can be corrected and other information obtained at http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/SMS/.

Need to know what the cell phone laws are in different states? Check out the reference library at www.safety.BLR.com.  This reference will list the restrictions state by state. Be sure to access BLR through MEMIC’s Safety Director to ensure full access at no cost. BLR is a great resource for all your transportation related needs as well as general workplace safety issues. 

Get the latest information regarding Maine’s transportation laws, 100 mile exemption, drug testing, turnpike weight limits, and much more at www.mmta.com.  This is the home page for the Maine Motor Transport Association. They are also a great resource for setting up drug testing for Maine companies. 

Do you have questions about hours of service?  CSA-2010?  Distracted driver issues?  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has the answers at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/.

The list can go on and on, but that's a good start. This is definitely the information age, so regardless of what your question might be, I’m confident you can find the answer through one of these resources. Lastly, don’t forget the MEMIC Safety Director Resource Library has access to over 350 safety-related documents. MEMIC is your partner in the prevention of workplace injury.


Indoor Air Quality aka The Fungus Amungus, Part 1

Stephen-Badger Posted by Stephen Badger, CSP

After a heavy rainstorm, you discover four inches of water in your office, or finished basement, and have no idea what to do – or even where to start. The first and most important thing is: don’t panic.

In part one of this series, I will explain what mold is, how it gets into your business or home, and the basic measures you can take to eliminate or control the growth of mold.

First, what is it?  Mold is a microscopic, living organism – a fungus – that exists throughout all parts of the world.  Recent studies have identified as many as 400,000 types of mold, but only 50 are found locally. Occasionally, rare species are found in the Northeast, but these are typically brought into the area via contaminated produce, machinery, or shipping containers. 

Of the common mold types, only a few can cause serious health issues. The reactions or allergies that some people have to mold result from mold by-products known as “mycotoxins,” which produce the smell associated with mold.  When we see mold growing, it is not a single organism, but a colony that contains tens of thousands of organisms.

In order to grow and produce the mycotoxins that can be harmful, mold needs three things: 

  1. Mold spores must be present – Mold is found everywhere and it travels through the air in its spore form. Mold is found even in the cleanest of homes and offices. Do-it-yourself test kits merely confirm that mold is present. If air testing is needed to determine whether an area is contaminated with mold, it should be done by a trained professional using calibrated equipment. 
  2. Food source – Different types of mold will “eat” different types of materials. Some types prefer sheetrock, some prefer cloth or clothing, and others grow best on wood.  Since the food sources can never truly be eliminated to prevent mold growth, it is critical to focus on and control the third element, moisture.
  3. Moisture – Mold has a very difficult time growing when the relative humidity is less than 50%; it needs moisture, like humans, for digestion and other life functions. By eliminating leaks, removing accumulated moisture, and reducing the relative humidity – mold growth can be stopped.

However, when mold does not get enough moisture, it reverts to a spore form that protects it from dying. This means that even when moisture is eliminated, or reduced, the mold spores are still there – staying viable until moisture levels rise enough to let them grow.  To illustrate this point, ancient mold spores were found inside Egyptian pyramids and began growing once moisture was present.

In my next blog post, I will cover some common mold types and how to test if you really have a mold problem.


Handy Hygiene

LaRochelle Greg 2 Submitted by: Greg LaRochelle

As a child you were probably reminded constantly to wash your hands before coming to the dinner table.  You might have grumbled on doing so with hunger pangs driving you to rush the process – a quick lather, rinse, and wipe on the hand towel, good enough, now let’s eat.

Today, hand washing is still just as important and even more critical as a preventative measure for infection control coupled with wearing disposable gloves. The germs of yesteryear remain with us with the myriad of bacteria and viruses possessing an innate and crafty ability to multiply. Their primary mission is to seek out a host organism, take up residence, and turn on their replication machinery, oftentimes at the detriment of their host’s health and welfare.  Even our own flora of skin and intestinal bacteria, bearing beneficial properties, can mount an attack and disrupt organ function when our immune system is compromised. 

And now with the prevalent use (and abuse) of antibiotics, both inside and outside of medicine over the past 60 years, the so-called bacterial “superbugs” have emerged through mutation with resistance to specific families of conventional antibiotic drugs.  What is our best defense against these superbugs? The common answer for infection control is personal protective equipment and hand hygiene (along with disinfecting contaminated surfaces). So, it’s back to the call of washing hands with soap and water, as simple as that may seem, to minimize our susceptibility to germ invasion and infection.  And what about hand sanitizers?  Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are okay when your hands aren’t visibly dirty, but are not as effective. 

While there are a number of websites that campaign for hand hygiene, the World Health Organization offers a free poster with an illustrated, eleven-step process on thorough hand cleaning.

So, no skimping to rush to the break room table—as this poster states, “Save Lives – Clean Your Hands."