Jones Act Waiver Granted for Puerto Rico

A request to temporarily waive the Jones Act for Puerto Rico that was denied on Monday has been approved. President Donald Trump waived shipping restrictions on Thursday to help speed up fuel and supply deliveries to Puerto Rico, devastated by Hurricane Maria, the White House said.
Maria wiped out power on the island and destroyed infrastructure and cell towers, leading to massive shortages. Even though a waiver had been granted to Texas and Florida after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the Department of Homeland Security initially said there was no need to waive the restriction for Puerto Rico, as it would not address the issue of the island’s damaged ports.

The Jones Act, or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, was initiated almost 100 years ago to keep foreign-flagged vessels from shipping fuel and goods between U.S. ports. The last previous waiver was in December 2012 to allow petroleum products to be delivered for relief assistance after Hurricane Sandy.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., disagreed with the initial decision to deny suspension of the act for Puerto Rico. He wrote to the Department of Homeland Security urging it to allow a waiver and ultimately “a full repeal of this archaic and burdensome act.” Without the waiver, McCain said residents of Puerto Rico would end up paying at least twice as much for food, drinking water and other supplies.

Supporters of the Jones Act, including ship builders, have maintained that it supports American jobs, including jobs in Puerto Rico and keeps shipping routes reliable, according to Reuters. They also contend that the issue in Puerto Rico is distributing shipments across the island once they are delivered.

The temporary waiver was not a surprise, as Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said on Wednesday that he expected the federal government to suspend the Jones Act. He said he had been speaking with members of Congress from both parties who supported an emergency waiver.

Community, Diversity Spotlighted at RIMS Canada

TORONTO—The 2017 RIMS Canada Conference quickly found its groove on Monday morning, kicking off the annual conference with performances by a choir of local schoolchildren and an opening session centered on the theme of community.

Focusing first on the RIMS community, the RIMS Canada Council announced its top honors for accomplishment in the risk management field. RCC Chair Rieneke Lips presented the Fred H. Bossons Award—given to the risk management professional earning the highest average mark on the three examinations required to attain the Canadian Risk Management (CRM) designation—to Deborah Moor, vice president of HIIG Underwriters Agency (Canada) Ltd.

In recognition of outstanding contributions to the risk management profession, Christina Gardiner, president of the RIMS Ontario chapter (ORIMS), and Val Fox, special advisor to ORIMS, presented the Donald M. Stuart Award to Tony Lackey, director of risk and insurance services for Carleton University in Ottawa. Lackey has not only managed the university’s risk management program and developed and implemented its annual enterprise risk assessment process, but has been deeply involved in the education of other risk managers. Indeed, after obtaining his Associate from the Insurance Institute of Canada (AIIC now CIP) and helping forge the relationship between his university and RIMS to promote and administer CRM programming, he became an instructor, teaching the CRM course at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business.

In his opening keynote, workplace diversity expert Ted Childs shifted the focus from community to an exploration of the human and strategic imperatives of fostering and maintaining diversity programs. Childs, who oversaw such programs and policies as part of his 39-year tenure at IBM, laid out what he called the “business context for diversity.” He noted that creating the strongest business depends on recruiting and retaining the best talent, which requires an enterprise-wide culture that actively works to ensure representation and advancement.

These goals, however, cannot be considered synonymous, Childs cautioned. “Diversity is the picture, inclusion is the test,” he said, explaining that anyone could likely walk through a business and select enough people who “look different” to fill a photo. When that lens is narrowed by various levels of seniority, however, it remains much more difficult.

Building community builds business, Childs argued, and while this should be motivated in part by the obvious factors, from moral imperative to the competition for talent, he focused heavily on the impact to every business’s bottom line as well. “Workforce diversity is the bridge between the workplace and the marketplace,” he said. Customers want to see themselves reflected in the companies that serve their needs.

Should that be insufficient compulsion, however, Childs has copyrighted his argument in blunter terms: “No matter who you hate, you don’t hate them more than you love money.”

Drive Safely Work Week Campaign Revs Up in October

American workers’ safety on the road continues to affect careers and companies. According to the Department of Labor’s National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2015, transportation incidents caused that year’s most fatal work injuries at a staggering 26%; the 1,264 roadway incidents also marked a 9% rise from 2014. When paired with other sobering statistics—such as positive urine drug testing in the workplace increasing 5% from 2014 to 2015, as previously reported—awareness groups are reacting to combat these statistics.

The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) reports that vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death and injury in the workplace. In addition to the pain and suffering caused, traffic crashes cost employers more than $60 billion annually in the U.S. alone. Studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have concluded that 80% of all crashes and 65% of near-crashes are due to some form of driver inattention.
NETS is addressing fleet safety and the dangerous combination of impaired driving while at work beginning Oct. 2, when it launches Impaired Driving, its newest Drive Safely Work Week campaign.

The goal for the week is to equip employers with the means to improve awareness of the risks of impaired driving—operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, illicit and prescription drugs, and other substances—by offering tangible solutions employers can implement to reduce them. The NETS site, trafficsafety.org, offers an online toolkit which will be updated in October with Impaired Driving campaign activities that reinforce the program’s safe-driving messages. This includes customizable employer launch letters, fact sheets, pledge cards and interactive employee presentations.

While the campaign’s top priority is to save lives, it also sheds light on the major financial risks employers face when employees drive under the influence. NETS information indicates that the average cost of an on-the-job crash to employers is:

  • $670,000 per fatality,
  • $65,000 per non-fatal injury, and
  • $6,000 for property damage.

Impaired Driving is DSWW’s third campaign of the year. The safety week had been observed annually for many years, but NETS updated its structure to quarterly deliveries in 2017. Its focus will not be time-sensitive or tied in with certain events or holidays. This way, any of the campaigns can be tailored to the employer’s schedule, without consuming significant time from the work day, said NETS executive director Joe McKillips.

“With these changes, our mission remains the same,” McKillips said. “[That mission is] to improve the safety and health of employees, their families, and members of the communities in which they live and work by preventing traffic crashes that occur both on-and off-the-job.”

For employers looking to host a safety week, NETS suggests alerting employees up to two weeks prior to the week by email and posting notices.

During a scheduled Drive Safely Work Week:

  • Post social media announcements
  • Distribute employee fact sheet(s)
  • Conduct distracted driving training workshop and/or webinar using the PowerPoint presentation contained in the downloadable campaign materials

Founded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), NETS is an employer-led road safety organization comprising global traffic safety leaders across private industry and government, whose fleets range from fewer than 100 vehicles to more than 50,000.

Hurricane Debris Removal Costs Climbing

It’s difficult to find a photo of Houston, Miami, or any city hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that doesn’t contain mountains of debris. As cleanup continues, more trash is piling up everywhere. Cities and towns are faced with a number of issues including costs, expediency, manpower and just what to do with all that trash.

Reuters reported that cleanup after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 took about a year. Hugh Kaufman, a retired EPA solid waste and emergency response analyst said the overall bill for Katrina was $2 billion, the largest to date. That cleanup spanned several states and the demolition of the more than 23,000 homes in the New Orleans area alone. He believes the combined cleanup tab for Harvey and Irma will top Katrina‘s.

In Houston, city officials estimate that about 8 million cubic yards of debris will need to be hauled away, enough to fill up the Texans’ NRG Stadium twice. There are about 100,000 piles of trash in the city, with collection farther along in some neighborhoods than in others, according to the New York Times. Moving these mountains of garbage has been left to county and local officials, who hire debris removal companies to help. FEMA reimburses local governments for 90% of their cost. About $136 million in federal funds were released to pay for initial cleanup around Houston, Reuters said.

In Brevard County, Florida, it is estimated there will be 600,000 cubic yards of trash hauled away—compared to 800,000 cubic yards after Hurricane Matthew—which they anticipate will take about a month, Florida Today reported. Because there is no set schedule for pickup, a number of residents decided not to wait, instead hauling their debris to landfills, causing traffic tie-ups.

Where will all this trash go? In Texas, contracted waste haulers and municipal crews are moving trash to dozens of landfills.

Judith Enck, a former regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency who dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy told the New York Times that figuring out what to do with debris is one of the most challenging aspects of any storm. Because decisions are generally made at the local level, she said, “every community has to kind of reinvent the wheel.”

Setting aside appliances like refrigerators for recycling, chipping downed trees for mulch instead of burning them, prevents pollution and extends the life of landfills, Enck said, adding that leaking landfills present a hazard that can pollute groundwater.

A number of municipalities are asking residents and businesses that put their trash out for pickup to separate trees and other plant material from debris such as shingles, fences and roofing materials.

Florida Today offered these guidelines for preparing storm debris for pickup:

  • Debris should be placed on the curbside, but not in the road or on a sidewalk.
  • Debris should be sorted into separate piles—such as piles for vegetation, for wooden construction debris and for metal construction debris—to help speed up the pickup process.
  • Vegetation and other debris should be cut into sections no longer than 4 feet.
  • Do not use bags for yard waste, as it makes it impossible to recycle or mulch.
  • Do not put yard waste on top of storm drains, as it could block receding waters from Hurricane Irma flooding.
  • Neatly stack construction and demolition debris (drywall, roof shingles, siding, carpet, fencing and docks).
  • Never place debris next to utility poles or transformers, under power lines, on top of water meters, by fire hydrants, near vehicles, next to mailboxes or fences.
  • Do not place debris on other people’s property.