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Nearly half of construction apprentices fail to complete program

Even though apprenticeship completion rates vary, nearly half of construction apprenticeship agreements initiated in any given year are cancelled, according to a report released on Oct. 17 by the Aspen Institute. Of the 121,000 apprenticeship agreements in construction started between 2006 and 2007 from the national data set, 46 percent were cancelled by May 2012, noted the report.

Other significant points included:

Texas Increases penalties for oversize/overweight vehicle violations

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) has substantially increased penalties for oversize/overweight vehicle violations. The penalties will be assessed depending upon the size of the weight violation, as well as the number of times the offender has been convicted of a weight violation. TxDMV urges shippers to provide a Certificate of Weight for motor carriers to keep in cabs for all overweight loads.

Single and tandem axle weight penalties are:

Parking-only rest area in Warren County, Iowa to close for winter

On Oct. 25, the Iowa Department of Transportation announced the temporary closure of the undeveloped rest area at mile post 51 on southbound Interstate 35 in Warren County beginning Nov. 4. The rest area is used mostly by commercial motor carriers. Because the ramp from the rest area to I-35 is on an incline, large vehicles often have trouble getting traction to merge onto I-35 during winter weather, causing a dangerous situation on the roadway, according to Iowa DOT. The rest area is expected to reopen in late March 2014.

Impacts of driver shortage detailed by ATA chief economist

On Oct. 22, American Trucking Associations (ATA) Chief Economist Bob Costello said fleets are adjusting to continued tightness in the driver market by increasing pay and hiring newer drivers. “Fleets in all segments of trucking have told us they are having a more difficult time finding qualified drivers than they were a year ago,” he said. “As a result, more fleets are considering hiring drivers straight out of driver training programs, and nearly three-quarters of those we surveyed plan to increase pay or have already done so.”

Affordable Care Act noncompliance could be costly for large employers

Employers that fall close to the mark of 50 or more full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) need to be aware of new federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements for large employers, according to an article in the October 25 issue of the State Laws Newsletter (SLN). There are significant monetary penalties for large employers, defined by the law as one with 50 or more FTEs. Moreover, status as a large employer brings other duties and conditions with it under ACA.

Trailer orders top 240,000 in September

September was the second straight month in which trailer industry net orders were above the 240,000 rate on a seasonally adjusted basis. Despite that strength, industry backlogs continue to be thin. This information was included in the most recent State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report published by ACT Research Co. (ACT).

“October is the normal kick-off for the industry orders season,” said Frank Maly, Director-CV Transportation with ACT Research. “The upcoming months will be critical to laying the foundation for the 2014 market.”

New OSHA toolkit helps transition to safer chemicals

On Oct. 24, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched an online toolkit  that walks employers and workers step-by-step through information, methods, tools and guidance to either eliminate hazardous chemicals or make informed substitution decisions in the workplace by finding a safer chemical, material, product or process. Click here for the toolkit.

Year-over-Year Volume Jumps 3.3 Percent at South Carolina Ports

The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) announced on Oct. 15 that it handled 133,011 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in September, increasing its FY2014 first quarter total volume by 3.3 percent over the same period last year. From July through September 2013, the SCPA moved 413,818 TEUs. Total exports for the quarter reached 216,680 TEUs, a 4 percent increase for the Port over the first quarter of FY2013.During the period 459 ships called on SCPA facilities, representing a 4.8 percent increase over plan. The SCPA currently has seven post-Panamax ship calls per week.

Daylight saving time to end Sunday, Nov. 3

Most of the nation will return to standard time at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3, when clocks will be turned back one hour, providing an additional hour of daylight in the morning.  Under law, daylight saving time is observed from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November, with the nation returning to daylight saving time starting Sunday, March 9, 2014. 

GSA recommends two green building certification systems

On Oct. 25, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced it was recommending the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes 2010 and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) 2009 as the third party green certification systems that the federal government can use to gauge performance in its construction and renovation projects.