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China’s Trade Surplus Expected to Decline Dramatically by End of 2014

Nomura, a financial services conglomerate, predicts Chinese imports will grow
8.3 percent in 2013 and 10 percent in 2014, while the nation’s exports will grow
4.8 percent in 2013 and 6 percent in 2014, according to an article in the March 4 Journal of Commerce. If that projection holds up, China’s trade surplus of more than $200 billion in 2012 would be more than halved in just two years. 

GAO Report Finds Mutiemployer Plans and PBGC Face Urgent Challenges

The most severely distressed multiemployer pension plans have taken significant steps to address their funding problems and, while most plans expected improved financial health, some did not, according to a study released on March 5 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). A survey conducted by a large actuarial and consulting firm serving multiemployer plans suggested that the majority of the most severely underfunded plans—those designated as being in critical status—developed plans to increase employer contributions or reduce certain participant benefits.

SBA Offers Wealth of Free Online Training Programs

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a number of free online training programs that owners of small businesses, or those thinking about becoming one, can take on their own time in 30 minutes or less. Among the topics available that might be of interest to SC&RA members are:

Two OSHA Meetings to Discuss Crane Operator Certification Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has scheduled two informal stakeholder meetings to solicit comments on the crane operator certification requirements in the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard. The meetings will focus on the effectiveness of crane operator certification to ensure that crane operators can safely operate equipment, and the level of competence and safe operation that certification ensures. The agency seeks information from the public on:

FMCSA to Take New Steps to Reduce GPS-Caused Bridge Strikes

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced on March 11 that, after his initial push in September of last year and months of work with regulators and trucking organizations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will begin issuing official recommendations to members of the commercial trucking industry on the proper uses of Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and incorporate GPS training into new entry-level certification programs for commercial motor vehicle operators.

FMCSA Determines Federal Law Preempts Alabama Metal Coil Securement Act

On March 5, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted a petition submitted by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) regarding the Alabama Metal Coil Securement Act.  FMCSA agreed with ATA’s contention that the state law is preempted by Federal law. “FMCSA has determined that there is insufficient support for the claimed safety benefits and that the Act places an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce,” according to the notice. This decision is effective April 4.

Oregon Makes Major Financial Commitment to Interstate 5 Bridge

On March 12, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signed a bill that committed his state’s $450 million share of a new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River that will link Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash. He noted that the current spans, dating back to 1917, are “probably the worst pinch point anywhere on the freeway from Mexico to the Canadian border.” Before the project can begin, however, a similar amount will have to be pledged by Washington state. The new bridge also awaits a federal commitment of up to $1.2 billion.

SC&RA Offers New Training Tools for Operating Cranes around Power Lines

SC&RA has released a new video, Operating Cranes Around Power Lines, and a companion 40-page booklet of the same title in response to the growing number of reported fatalities in the industry involving power lines. In 2010, the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) released 29 CFR Part 1926, providing increased guidelines and requirements for every job site operating cranes near, around or under a power line. The video provides a visual demonstration of safe operating procedures as outlined by OSHA.

Specifically, the 19-minute video covers:

SC&RA Releases Update to the Online Oversized/Overweight Permit Manual

f your company subscribes to SC&RA’s Online Oversized/Overweight Permit  Manual please forward this notice to your users of the product. On March 7, SC&RA updated the records on more than15 states that have recently changed permit requirements, costs, equipment requirements, escort car requirements, hours of travel and other procedures for moving or securing permits for over-dimensional loads.

2013 Specialized Transportation Symposium Draws More Than 400 Attendees

SC&RA held its Annual Specialized Transportation in Orlando, Florida from February 27- March 1. More than 400 people attended the event which included an Exhibit Center; committee meetings; joint meetings with transportation regional associations and state officials; featured speakers and panelists.