On December 23, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a regulatory proposal that would revise hours-of-service (HOS) requirements for commercial truck drivers. “A fatigued driver has no place behind the wheel of a large commercial truck,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
“A recovering U.S. economy and a shortage of skilled drivers will force the nation’s trucking industry to either pass through unpopular price hikes next year or take a hit to their profit margins,” wrote Lynn Adler in a Reuters News Service article published December 21. “Rising demand for consumer and industrial goods means truckers, who haul 70 percent of U.S. freight, are in for a busy 2011.
The Department of Energy’s final weekly report on national diesel prices for 2010 showed a two-year high of $3.294 per gallon, following a gain of 4.6 cents from the previous week.
As part of the Department of Labor’s Fall 2010 Regulatory Agenda, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) announced plans to pursue new safety regulations pertaining to reinforcing steel and post-tensioning activities.
In light of recent snowstorms, OSHA is reminding workers, employers and the general public of the hazards associated with snow removal and recovery work, including:
- Electric shock from contact with downed power lines or the use of ungrounded electrical equipment
- Falls from snow removal on roofs, or while working in aerial lifts or on ladders
- Being struck or crushed by trees, branches or structures that collapse under the weight of accumulated snow
- Carbon monoxide poisoning from gasoline-powered generators in inadequately ventilated areas or id
On December 20, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) announced the industry’s approval of a voluntary policy to help sustain operational focus on safety by standardizing a program to assess and implement practices that foster an enduring safety culture. The initiative stems from many months of discussion within the industry and with the U.S.
Duke Energy Generation Services has reached a tentative agreement to develop its 10th wind farm, the 169-megawatt Ironwood Wind Power Project in Kansas, according to an article in the December 27 issue of the Charlotte Business Journal. The deal with Westar represents about a third of the 500-megawatt capacity estimated at the site. The project is expected to be in service before the end of 2011.
Westar owns the site’s 7,450 acres northeast of Dodge City, Kan. Plans call for 73 turbines, each capable of producing 2.3 megawatts.
Construction employment either increased or remained steady in a growing number of metropolitan areas – 120 of 337 – between November 2009 and November 2010 according to an analysis of federal employment data released on December 28 by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Phoenix, Ariz. added more construction jobs (3,100 jobs, 4 percent) than any of the 70 metro areas to add jobs during the past year. Hanford-Corcoran, Calif. added the highest percentage (33 percent, 300 jobs).
In the construction equipment “business outlook” survey released on December 16 by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM):
- Construction machinery manufacturers predict overall business in the United States to close out 2010 with 6.4-percent growth, then gain 12.7 percent in 2011 and 14.8 percent in 2012, followed by 2013 growth of 13.0 percent.
- Canadian business overall is expected to be 8.2 percent higher in 2010 than the previous year, and record gains of 12.0 percent in 2011, 14.8 percent in 2012 and 12.7 percent in 2013.
After reversing into negative territory in October, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) rose more than three points in November to reach its highest mark since December 2007. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the November ABI score was 52.0, up from a reading of 48.7 the previous month.