FMCSA grants exemption to Cleveland-Cliffs Steel’s scrap metal drivers

May 10, 2022

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted another hours-of-service exemption to Indiana company Cleveland-Cliffs Steel.

In a notice scheduled to publish in the Federal Register on Wednesday, May 11, the FMCSA says it will allow the company’s drivers who transport scrap metal on two trucks between their production and shipping locations on public roads to work up to 16 hours per day and to return to work with less than the mandatory 10 consecutive hours off duty.

The exemption is similar to one that FMCSA granted Cleveland-Cliffs Steel last year, allowing its drivers transporting steel coils to work under the same hours of service. Unlike the steel coil exemption, however, FMCSA noted that the scrap metal trucks comply with the heavy hauler trailer definition, height of rear side marker lights restrictions, tire loading restrictions and the coil securement requirements in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Reasoning for exemption

Cleveland-Cliffs Steel, formerly known as ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor, requested the exemption in August 2021. In the request, the company explained that its drivers operate at its East Chicago, Ind., plant but must cross several public roadways through the plant area.

“Scrap metal produced in one portion of the plant must be transported over two short segments of public highway to another section of the plant,” the notice said. “Both points where the vehicles cross are controlled intersections, having either traffic lights or a combination of traffic lights and signs.”

The company said the current hours-of-service regulations create problems as employee-drivers typically work an eight-hour shift plus overtime, while employees in the production and shipping areas work 12-hour shifts.

“Employee-drivers must go home under the current arrangement, leaving a four-hour gap between production and the driver’s schedule, creating an overrun of scrap metal for disposal and/or recycling,” Cleveland-Cliffs Steel told the agency.

As part of the exemption, the company said its drivers would not work more than 16 hours per shift, would receive eight hours off duty between shifts and would not be allowed to drive more than 10% of their total workday. The drivers also will remain subject to other applicable federal regulations, including commercial driver’s licenses, drug testing, inspection, maintenance and the repair of vehicles.

Opposition

FMCSA received five comments, all in opposition of the exemption.

“This sounds like an accident just looking for a place to happen,” Matthew Hillegas wrote.

Granted for five years

Despite the comments, FMCSA said it granted the exemption because it believes that the company’s overall safety performance combined with the short distances and low speeds involved will enable Cleveland-Cliffs Steel to achieve an equivalent safety level.

The exemption becomes effective on May 11 and will run for five years. LL

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.