Tired tugboat captains flag accident risk at Panama Canal

PANAMA CITY ( ) – In April last year, the 148-tonne tugboat Cerro Santiago collided with the U.S. Coast Guard vessel Tampa while passing through the Panama Canal after the captain of the tug fell asleep.

No one was injured, but the repairs to the Tampa cost $170,000, said a report by the U.S. Nati,爱上海同城aishRadcliff,onal Transpor,上海419论坛Dallas,tation Safety Board, a government agency.

The risk of such incidents is growing as fatigue plagues tug operators from long shifts, according to a report published this month commissioned by Panama’s captains union.

The Panama Canal Authority disputes the findings.

Since the Panama Canal opened a new set of locks in 2016, some captains have been covering long shifts.

The report said the system is negatively affecting crews’ health on the canal, which handles 5 percent of world trade.

The study, which included interviews with 55 captains, a third of the total working at the facility, is the union’s most recent push for a different shift system, crew members said.

“We’re worried about the deterioration of the captains’ health and fear another accident might happen,” captain Ivan De La Guardia told .

The union said it had sent 15 letters to the canal authority urging action, without receiving an answer.

De La Guardia, one of the union’s leaders, said that since July 1 there have been seven tugboat accidents. None were serious, but all involved captains falling asleep, he said.

When the new locks first opened, two tugboat captains were assigned to each maneuver in the canal. But the canal authority decided in mid-2018 that one captain would be enough after a period of “adaptation,上海419论坛宝山Rae,” ended.

That has implied longer shifts and more pressure at work, captain Roberto Feurtado said.

Jorge Quijano, administrator of the Canal authority, told that operational rules for tugboats demand only one captain, two crew and one machinist.

“The w上海419论坛ork that is being done is not generating any fatigue,” Quijano said, calling the operations safe and the work environment “appropriate.”

The authority says the accident rate is below 1 percent at the canal, which has over 13,000 transits every year.

The new set of locks requires tugboats to accompany vessels passing through the waterway during the entire transit. Maneuvers can take up to 10 hours.

Nearly one in three captains interviewed for the report said they have worked up to 20 hours in a single shift, and six of them reported falling asleep at work.

Businesses push IRS to reduce data reporting under Obamacare

WASHINGTON ( ) – The Internal Revenue Service is under pressure from some businesses to reduce the information they may soon have to collect and report to the IRS under the health law known as Obamacare, including the birth dates and Social Security numbers of employees’ children.

The IRS will be issuing tax penalties to businesses and individuals who fail to obtain health coverag,爱上海Leandra,e. The data will help verify that businesses and individuals are telling the truth about their healthcare coverage under the law.

Business lobbying groups, including the Business Roundtable, a chief executives’ association, are asking for drastic cutbacks in the data that the IRS cannot legally provide on its own, said some lawyers 上海419论坛ahead of IRS hearings set for Monday and Tuesday on these proposed rules.

“It’s a huge ask,” said Vanessa Scott, a partner at law firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, of the requests. “The IRS needs as much information as possible about everyone … Without it, the IRS is at a serious disadvantage.”

One lawyer, speaking anonymously to protect his relationship with IRS officials, said the business requests for data cutbacks were “dead on arrival.” IRS officials will likely show limited flexibility in the final rules, he said.

The IRS declined to comment ahead of the hearings.

Starting in 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that Americans have health insurance coverage or pay a fine. The Obama administration in July delayed until 2015 the penalties and reporting requirements for businesses.

People already getting insurance through their employers are likely to continue to do so under Obamacare, but the law also set up online insurance marketplaces for people to purchase their own coverage as part of efforts to extend health benefits to millions of uninsured Americans.

One lobbying group called the E-FLEX Coalition, representing retail, construction and other service companies, wants employers to report information only about employees getting a federal tax credit to subsidize their healthcare coverage costs.

This would sharply reduce the volume of information to be reported. “A less expansive approach to information reporting can achieve the same ends with fewer burdens,” E-FLEX said in a November 6 comment letter.

The IRS hearings come at a tough time for President Barack Obama and his signature domestic policy achievement.

Persistent problems ,上海贵族宝贝论坛Fabiana,with the balky HealthCare.gov website, and workarounds to fulfill Obama’s pledge that holders of individual plans can keep their coverage, have kept the administration and Democrats on the healthcare defensive. The problems have given ammunition to Republicans who have pressed to dismantle Obamacare.

It is unclear when the IRS will finish the reporting rules, which also call for it to get information from employers about the quality and cost of coverage businesses must offer.

The IRS might be limited in the changes it can make because the agency has already started writing software to implement the healthcare law, lawyers and accountants said.