OSHA clarified vaccine mandate's non-application for most truck drivers | Canada relaxes border vax mandate

Updated Jan 14, 2022

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022:

OSHA clarified vax mandate wouldn't apply to most truck drivers just before rule was stayed by SCOTUS

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration updated its FAQ with new information about truck drivers related to the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that could require workers at companies with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

A lawsuit challenging the ETS was decided in favor of staying the OSHA's rule by the Supreme Court on Thursday, January 13, just days after OSHA began enforcing the ETS on Jan. 10. The agency had said in a statement that it would not issue citations for noncompliance with its vaccination or testing requirements before Feb. 9, as long as employers exercised “good faith efforts” to come into compliance with the ETS -- efforts which are moot given the court's ruling. 

In the new section posted in the FAQ, nonetheless, OSHA clarified that while there was no specific exemption for truck drivers, the ETS did “not apply to employees ’who do not report to a workplace where other individuals such as coworkers or customers are present’ or employees ‘who work exclusively outdoors.’”

The FAQ went on to say that truck drivers who do not work in a team operation with another driver in the cab and who only encounter other individuals in outdoor environments would not have been included in the ETS, either.

Additionally, OSHA noted that minimal use of indoor facilities where other people may be present, such as using a multi-stall bathroom or entering an administrative office to drop off paperwork “does not preclude an employee from being covered by these exemptions, as long as time spent indoors is brief.”

[Related: Why are you holding off on the COVID vaccine?]

Canada backtracks on part of border vax requirement

Canadian news agency Global News reported Wednesday evening that the country is backing off on part of its cross-border vaccine mandate for truck drivers.

According to the report, the Canadian Border Services Agency will allow unvaccinated Canadian truck drivers reentering the country from the U.S. to remain exempt from testing and quarantine requirements. The mandate would have previously required these drivers to quarantine for 14 days when reentering their home country.

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Canada will still enforce the mandate on foreign truck drivers, however, and any unvaccinated or partially vaccinated drivers from the U.S. or elsewhere will be turned away at the border.

Canada’s cross-border vaccine mandate for truck drivers goes into effect Saturday, Jan. 15. A similar requirement for truck drivers entering the U.S. will go into effect Jan. 22.

The Truckload Carriers Association has put together a resource page to help drivers and fleets make sure they are prepared for both the Canadian and U.S. cross-border vaccine mandates.

New York set to allow third-party CDL road testers

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday a plan she said "will help address a critical shortage of truck and bus drivers by significantly expanding the availability of road tests for commercial driver license applicants."

The initiative would allow qualified third parties to offer CDL road tests, which would create more testing locations statewide and expand capacity at the existing state-run sites, reducing the time it takes to get qualified CDL drivers on the road.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles will hold a public hearing Jan. 26, to hear and review comments on the proposed plan. The hearing will take place virtually via WebEx from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It will be open for public comments following a brief introduction by DMV representatives. Written comments may be submitted to [email protected] from Jan. 18 to Feb. 4.

During the public hearing, the DMV will provide an overview of the proposal that calls for a phased rollout of this initiative that would initially allow other state agencies and authorities that have large fleets of commercial vehicles to begin conducting CDL road tests. The second phase would include qualified private entities.

The DMV will establish a monitoring system to ensure that qualified CDL trainers safely administer the road tests in compliance with state and federal regulations. The DMV will use the feedback gathered during the public hearing to evaluate and develop an implementation plan.

[Related: A training suggestion for robust pre-CDL and finishing programs]

Trucker Path integrates Loadsmart into load board

Trucker Path has announced a partnership with digital load board Loadsmart, which will integrate Loadsmart with Trucker Path’s TruckLoads load board. The companies say the integration will streamline and offer a better booking experience for drivers and carriers.

“By bringing Loadsmart into Trucker Path's ecosystem, we will offer more load opportunities to owner-operators and small fleets when and where they need them through a fully seamless digital booking experience," said Jeff Ogren, SVP of Business Development & Strategy at Trucker Path.

Since Trucker Path’s TruckLoads freight matching load board debuted in 2016, it has grown to include nearly 100,000 active carriers.

With this integration, Trucker Path's community of drivers and carriers have immediate access to loads on the Loadsmart platform. Those loads come with book-instant or bid-on prices. The combination of technologies allows carriers and drivers to use a seamless, digital booking experience.