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International Operating Engineer - Spring 2018

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The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Health & Safety Revised

Health & Safety Revised DOT Substance Abuse Regs Now in Effect Rate of Workplace Injury and Death Still Too High EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2018, the Department of Transportation (DOT) established revised drug-testing requirements for pipeline employees performing safetysensitive work to be drug tested. DOT regulations require pre-employment, post-accident, return to duty (after positive drug test), reasonable cause, and random drug testing. Prior to 2018, employers were required to test for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines (amphetamine and methamphetamine), phencyclidine (PCP), and certain opiates (codeine, morphine, & heroin). Effective January 1, 2018, DOT revised its drug testing regulations for safetysensitive transportation industry employees. This include IUOE members working on pipeline projects. The DOT has also added four semi-synthetic opioids to the drug screening panel hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. These drugs are found in prescription medications including Oxycontin, Percodan, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, Dilaudid, and Exalgo. Also, as of January 1, 2018, pipeline contractors will be required to increase the amount of random drug testing from 25% to 50% The Medical Review Officer (MRO) will review the test results. An MRO is a licensed physician, that meets requirements set out by the DOT to be an MRO. Should there be any discrepancies in a drug test the MRO will contact the donor to discuss the results and/or discrepancy with the individual. Should the MRO verify a legally prescribed medication that would likely make an employee medically unqualified or would likely pose a significant safety risk, CFR 49 Section 40.135(e) requires the MRO to tell the employee to have his/ her prescribing physician contact the MRO to discuss the MRO’s concern about the medication. If the prescribing physician does not speak with the MRO within 5 business days of the MRO informing the employee to have his/her prescribing physician contact the MRO, the MRO will report the information about the legally prescribed medication to the appropriate third party. Can the MRO report that information to a third party before the 5 business days have elapsed? Yes, there could be instances where the MRO would not have to wait 5 business days to report the information. For example: • The prescribing physician speaks to the MRO before 5 business days have elapsed and significant safety risk remains unresolved. • The employee expressly declines to have his/her prescribing physician speak with the MRO • If, during the verification interview, the MRO learns of a medical condition or diagnosis that is likely to result in the employee’s being medically unqualified under a DOT agency regulation (e.g, FAA, FMCSA, USCG), the MRO must report that information under the procedures in € 40.327. The 5-day pause provision in €40.135 (e) is inapplicable. It is advisable for IUOE members that may be taking prescription opioids or other drugs that are screened for by the DOT test, to come prepared with current prescriptions to any pipeline job. Members should also have available the phone number of their prescribing physician and/ or pharmacist. (NOTE: IT IS ONLY NECESSARY TO SHARE THIS INFORMATION WITH THE MRO IF CONTACTED BY THE MRO, NOT THE CONTRACTOR). A letter from their prescribing physician stating that the medications do not affect their ability to perform pipeline work, to share with the MRO as well. Members may want to consider talking to their physicians BEFORE beginning work about whether they can prescribe an alternative medication that will not interfere with job performance. Members may be required to wait several days after their drug test is performed – potentially without pay – to resolve any questions regarding their use of prescription medications. At this time, bringing prescriptions to jobsites is not mandatory, but suggested and will likely reduce lost time. The IUOE has met with the other NPLA crafts (UA, Teamsters, Laborers) and the PLCA to address the new regulations. These meetings may lead to changes to the NPLA Substance Abuse Policy and other procedures relating to drug testing. THIS MARKS THE 27th year the AFL-CIO has produced a report on the state of safety and health protections for America’s workers. It features state and national information on workplace fatalities, injuries, illnesses, the number and frequency of workplace inspections, penalties, funding, staffing and public employee coverage under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. It also includes information on the state of mine safety and health. In 1970, Congress enacted the OSH Act, promising workers in this country the right to a safe job. More than 579,000 workers now can say their lives have been saved since the passage of the OSH Act. Since that time, workplace safety and health conditions have improved. But too many workers remain at serious risk of injury, illness or death as chemical plant explosions, major fires, construction collapses and other preventable workplace tragedies continue to occur. Workplace violence is a growing threat. Many other workplace hazards kill and disable thousands of workers each year. In 2016, 5,190 workers lost their lives on the job as a result of traumatic injuries. Each day in this country, an average of 14 workers die because of job injuries—women and men who go to work, never to return home to their families and loved ones. This does not include those workers who die from occupational diseases, estimated to be 50,000– 60,000 each year. Chronic occupational diseases receive less attention because most are not detected for years after workers are exposed to toxic chemicals, and occupational illnesses often are misdiagnosed and poorly tracked. All total, on average at least 150 workers die each day due to job injuries and illnesses. During its eight years in office, the Obama administration had a strong track record on worker safety and health, appointing dedicated pro-worker advocates to lead the job safety agencies who returned these programs to their core mission of protecting workers. The Obama administration increased the job safety budget, stepped up enforcement and strengthened workers’ rights. Landmark regulations to protect workers from deadly silica dust and coal dust were issued, along with long-overdue rules on other serious safety and health hazards, including beryllium and confined space entry in the construction industry. Opposition by business groups and the Republican majority in Congress thwarted action on a number of initiatives. But at the end of eight years, the Obama administration had put in place important protections, policies and programs that made jobs safer, reduced injuries and illnesses, and saved workers’ lives. With the election of President Trump and Republicans maintaining their majorities in Congress, the political landscape shifted dramatically. President Trump ran on a pro-business, deregulatory agenda, promising to cut regulations by 70%. Since taking office at the end of January 2017, he has acted on that promise, issuing a number of executive orders to roll back or review existing regulations, including one order that requires that for any new regulatory protection issued, an agency must remove two safeguards from the books. He signed more than a dozen bills overturning regulations issued by the Obama administration, including two major worker safety rules. The Trump administration has moved to weaken recently issued rules on beryllium and mine examinations and has delayed or abandoned the development of new protections, including regulations on workplace violence, infectious diseases, silica in mining and combustible dust. These are challenging times for working people and their unions, and the future prospects for safety and health protections are uncertain. What is clear, however, is that the toll of workplace injury, disease and death remains too high. Workers in the United States need more safety and health protection, not less. More than four decades after the passage of the OSH Act, there is much more work to be done. 20 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER SPRING 2018 21

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