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Newsletter
Volume 103
June 1, 2012
Heads-Up! 2012 CVSA RoadCheck is June 5-7th
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will be holding 2012 RoadCheck, their annual safety inspection blitz, from June 5-7th. In the course of 72 consecutive hours, vehicle inspectors and other law enforcement officers will be conducting over 65,000 commercial vehicle roadside inspections and other enforcement activities at more than 1,500 locations nationwide. Please be prepared for the event and advise your drivers well in advance.
Reminder: HazMat Annual Registration Expires on June 30th
If your company transports, or offers for transport, hazardous materials that require placarding by the DOT, they must be registered with the Department of Transportation (DOT). If your company registers with DOT annually, then your HazMat Registration expires on June 30th each year. If your company registers for a two or three year period, check your registration for the expiration year. A copy of the current registration must be carried in every company vehicle used to transport hazardous materials. You can register and pay the fee online at the DOT's website by clicking here.
Reminder: Iowa Floater Registration Renewal
The registration renewals for Floaters that exceed the 20,000/axle weight are due to the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) by June 30th. IDOT does not send notice reminding permit holders to renew. This type of annual permit can only be renewed, as a new permit cannot be issued for a piece of equipment that did not obtain the first permit prior to July 1, 2007. The renewal application (Annual Permit Application for a Self-Propelled Implement of Husbandry with Flotation Tires) is available by clicking here or also on IDOT's website. Complete the application and return it with your payment to: Office of Vehicle and Motor Carrier Services, PO Box 10382, Des Moines, IA 50306-0382.
National Safety School 2012 - Mark your calendars!
The National Agronomic Environmental Health & Safety School will be held in Bloomington, IL this year on August 21 & 22, 2012 at the new Asmark Institute Agricenter. There is a renewed interest and level of energy in the Safety School and we encourage each of our clients to register and participate in this quality program. An outstanding lineup of speakers has been secured for the 2012 program, including Richard Gearheard, President of Crop Production Services, Dr. Fred Whitford, Coordinator of the Purdue Pesticide Programs, Brian Bothast with OSHA and Warren Goetsch, Bureau Chief with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Topics include Building a Safety Culture, a Round Table on NPDES Permits, the ABC's of Trailers and Hitches, OSHA and DOT Hot Topics for 2012, Electrical Safety, OSHA Grain Inspections and Securing Your Business. Updates from industry professionals such as Pam Guffain with TFI, Inspector Ryan Gibson with DHS and George Hess with U.S. EPA, will be included on topics such as Ammonium Nitrate Regulations, CFATS, RMP and more. HAZWOPER emergency response refresher training will also be held in conjunction with the Safety School's activities. To view the agenda and register, please click here.
While in Bloomington that week, we recommend that you stay an extra day to attend the Midwest AG Industries Expo (MAGIE) on August 22 & 23, 2012. It's truly one of the finest displays of "ride and buy" shows in the United States. For more information on registering for MAGIE, click here.
DVD Training Videos Revitalized
The Asmark Institute DVD production team is in the process of updating and revitalizing the set of six DVD training videos geared for use with monthly, annual and new hire safety training. This update was prompted by ideas and comments from the last set of Performance Evaluations completed by clients, requesting new and improved DVDs. With the purchase of new equipment, our own in-house editing suite and the ability to shoot everything in high-definition (HD), the new safety training DVDs are being designed to rejuvenate your routine safety talks or group training sessions.
The production team consists of Dustin Warder, Brian Mason and Lauren Ebelhar, who are busy with preparations to launch the newly produced, first DVD in the set, by the end of the year. DVD #1 includes the eight OSHA subjects required for most employees. Additional plans are in place to release DVD #2 in 2013, followed by DVD #3 the following year, until all DVDs have been updated. Stay tuned as we transition to new technology, new people and a new look!
Casting Call for DVD Training Videos
Have you ever wanted to be famous and see your name up in lights? Now's your chance! As the Asmark Institute transitions the old set of training DVDs to the new, we are looking for locations that are willing to open their facilities for shooting of some of the video footage and "actors" who would like to participate in the filming. If you are interested in being a part of production, please call or email Dustin Warder at 270-926-4600 ext 203 or dustin@asmark.org for more information.
OSHA Kicks Off Summer Campaign to Prevent Heat-Related Illnesses
OSHA has kicked off a national outreach initiative to educate workers and their employers about the hazards of working outdoors in the heat and steps needed to prevent heat-related illnesses. OSHA's 2012 Heat Illness Prevention Campaign builds on last year's successful summer campaign, as well as CAL/OSHA's successful initiative in 2010. For outdoor workers, "water, rest and shade are three words that can make the difference between life and death," Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said. "If employers take reasonable precautions, and look out for their workers, we can beat the heat."
Each year, thousands of outdoor workers experience serious illnesses such as heat exhaustion. For 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 4,190 workers suffered from heat illness and 40 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job. Although outdoor workers in a variety of industries are susceptible to heat illness, those in construction and agriculture are the most vulnerable. For information and resources on heat illness, visit OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention page. To order quantities of OSHA's heat illness educational materials in English or Spanish, call OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999 or email Meilinger.Francis2@dol.gov.
OSHA Uses General Duty Clause to Cite Inadequate Workplace Violence Safeguards
An investigation into a complaint that a worker had been severely beaten and threatened by a client of a hospital in Wisconsin revealed that staff members had been assaulted numerous times. As a result, OSHA cited the employer for a serious violation of the agency's "General Duty Clause" for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause serious injury or death. Proposed penalties of $12,000 were assessed. In addition, OSHA cited three other-than-serious violations involving recordkeeping errors, which include:
  • A lack of entries for lost or restricted work days due to injury or illness on the OSHA 300 logs during 2011,
  • Failing to annually evaluate and inspect the energy control program, and
  • Failing to conduct annual reviews and updates of the bloodborne pathogen program.
The specialty hospital has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Illinois Approves Program to Protect Water Quality by Reducing Nutrient Losses
On May 22nd, Illinois lawmakers sent legislation to Governor Quinn that establishes a new program to help farmers use crop fertilizers more effectively, which is expected to reduce nutrient losses and deliver significant improvements in water quality. "We are challenged to improve both crop yields and water quality, and this will only happen through innovative nutrient research and on-farm practices aimed at accomplishing this mutual goal," said Jean Payne, President of the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association. The legislation, House Bill 5539, creates a Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC), which will utilize a fertilizer tonnage fee to establish and implement nutrient research, education and water quality programs. The bill is part of the "Keep it for the Crop" initiative, which is supported by a coalition of agricultural and environmental organizations working to improve soil and water quality in Illinois. The program seeks to fund a vibrant nutrient research and education program and provide fertilizer suppliers and farmers with science-based recommendations and in-field practices to reduce nutrient losses and enhance nutrient efficiency through the adoption of the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship - Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place. According to clean water advocates, the new programs will address a widespread water pollution problem in Illinois - high levels of nutrients in rivers, lakes and streams.
Nutrient pollution occurs when excess nitrogen and phosphorus occur in bodies of water, which promotes excessive algae and plant growth leading to oxygen depletion, which can kill fish and other aquatic life. According to IEPA, both point sources and non-point sources contribute to the problem; this legislation fills a critical need for a program to specifically address how non-point sources, including agricultural lands, can reduce phosphorus and nitrogen losses. "It's important to me that my children can someday become farmers, if that's what they want to do," said Gary Hudson, a family farmer from Hindsboro, IL. "I'm always looking to improve the way I farm for now and for generations to come. I know that the choices I make and methodologies I choose are important for my family and the families in Illinois and downstream. The 4Rs are definitely an important part of my continual improvements."
The tonnage fee will result in a secure, long-term funding mechanism for the NREC. The fertilizer industry also supports the IL Department of Agriculture's fertilizer quality and safety programs through product registration and licensing fees that have always been part of The Fertilizer Act. The funds raised will eliminate the need for funds from the State General Revenue Fund to administer The Fertilizer Act. "I'm pleased to see farmers, environmental advocates and the fertilizer industry working together to find clean water solutions that work for Illinois," said State Senator Michael Frerichs, the Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Conservation Committee, and Senate sponsor of the legislation. "We need to protect the quality of our waters, and the Nutrient Research and Education Council will help farmers do that, and help them avoid unnecessary costs." More information about the NREC is available online at www.KIC2025.org.
Syngenta Reaches Agreement to Settle Atrazine Lawsuit
Syngenta reached an agreement on May 24th to settle the lawsuits filed by Illinois community water systems regarding the use of atrazine. In a show of support for farmers, ag retailers, distributors and agriculture in general, the settlement releases all entities from liability related to the presence of atrazine in any water supply. Syngenta also acknowledges no liability, based on the fact that the plaintiffs were never able to come up with any scientific evidence regarding their claim that atrazine is not safe when used according to the label.
The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA), distributors and more than 50 Illinois ag retailers were involved in the lawsuit, having to produce documents, application records and respond to threats of deposition. For over 8 years this has been dragging on with no indication it was ever going to end. Syngenta agreed to settle for $105 million, with a portion of this money (after the trial lawyer's take) going to the community water systems if they accept the agreement. The settlement also assures that farmers, retailers, distributors and related entities will be released from liability related to the presence of atrazine in any water supply from the labeled use of the product.
The science has always been clear: No one has ever been or could have been exposed to enough atrazine in drinking water to affect their health. It is also clear that atrazine benefits agriculture by up to $3.3 billion annually, reduces soil erosion and supports American jobs.
In the end, this was never about the safety of atrazine. One can understand Syngenta's decision, which had to be extremely difficult to make. This brings closure for Syngenta's customers and the settlement does not impede any future utilization of atrazine according to the label. We believe it is tragic that the judicial system can be manipulated to make unsubstantiated claims against a reputable company and the legal use of a product that has been proven to be safe. Millions were spent in litigation, in the end serving no useful purpose for society as a whole. IFCA respects Syngenta's decision and commends them for the support they lent to IFCA and to the Illinois ag retailers who experienced first-hand this unfortunate manipulation of our legal system.
DOT Proposes Groundbreaking Rule for CMVs
Last week, the US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a new federal motor vehicle safety standard to require electronic stability control (ESC) systems on large commercial trucks, motorcoaches and other large buses for the first time ever. Agency research shows the technology could prevent up to 56% of rollover crashes each year and another 14% of loss-of-control crashes. With sensors that monitor vehicle movement and steering, ESC can help mitigate rollover incidents by using automatic computer-controlled braking, and also aid the driver in addressing severe understeer or oversteer conditions that can lead to loss of control. While many truck tractors and large buses can currently be ordered with this technology, the proposed standard would require ESC systems as standard equipment on these types of vehicles. As proposed, the rule would take effect between two and four years after the standard is finalized, depending on the type of vehicle. The systems would add $1,160 to the cost of a new truck.
EPA Releases Final Nitric Acid Plant Rule
On May 15th, EPA released a prepublication copy of its final rule entitled, "New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for Nitric Acid Plants (NAPs)." The Fertilizer Institute's (TFI) review of the final rule shows EPA has set a 0.5 lb/ton of nitric acid emission standard based on a 30 day averaging period that includes startup, shutdown and malfunctions, which is a six fold decrease from the previous NSPS. TFI members have expressed that many NAPs will be unable to meet this standard, which is triggered when a plant makes plant upgrades or modifications. TFI's Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Council and nitric acid subcommittee are currently discussing next steps to respond to the rule. For more information, please contact TFI's Vice President of Scientific Programs Bill Herz at wcherz@tfi.org.
EEOC Issues New Guidance on Using Criminal Background Checks
On April 25, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Council (EEOC) voted 4-1 to adopt new guidance regarding employer use of criminal background checks to screen applicants and current employees. This guidance will affect nearly every employer in the country. Based on a recent survey, over 90% of employers use criminal background checks for some applicants or employees and more than 70% of employers screen all their applicants or employees. Considering the EEOC's commitment to increasing the percentage of systemic discrimination (or class action) cases it brings over the next five years, you may want to revisit your criminal background check policy in light of the new guidance and ensure that your managers, hiring officials and supervisors are properly trained to implement your policy.
KENTUCKY: Mandatory Motor Vehicle Insurance Notices to Begin
As mandated by the Kentucky Legislature, uninsured motorists across the state will begin receiving notices in June that registrations for their personal vehicles will be canceled if they do not obtain required insurance or show proof of existing insurance. Registered owners of personal vehicles shown to have been without insurance for more than 60 days will receive the notices. The owners will have 30 days in which to obtain or present verification of coverage. Each month, the Transportation Department will compare vehicle identification numbers (VIN) submitted by insurance companies doing business in Kentucky with the VINs of vehicles registered to Kentucky owners. Owners who fail to take necessary action after being notified will be subject to citation for driving without valid registration.
NHTSA Examines "Vehicle-to-Vehicle" Communication Technology
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is testing new "vehicle-to-vehicle" communications technology that the agency says could prevent 80% of vehicle crashes by, for instance, alerting drivers when a fellow motorist is about to run a red light. NHTSA says the technology could eventually become mandatory.
Another Great Example of Why We Have So Many Regulations...
Fort Lee, N.J. police said they will begin issuing $85 jaywalking tickets to pedestrians who are caught texting while walking. The borough, which is home to approximately 35,000 residents, has suffered three fatal pedestrian-involved accidents this year. It is hoped the crackdown on people who display dangerous behavior while walking will make this town safer, but not everyone is on board with the idea of issuing $85 tickets. Officers handed out pamphlets during a short grace period in March before they began aggressively going after "dangerous walkers." More than 117 tickets have been issued, according to the New Jersey Record.
Put An End to Distracted Driving!
This article is made possible by J.J. Keller & Associates, a valued partner of the Asmark Institute for over 23 years. Our thanks to J.J. Keller for their support over the years and for the use of this article.
Distracted driving can kill! That's why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits interstate truck and bus drivers from texting or using hand-held cell phones while driving, and why more and more states, cities and employers are banning or limiting the use of cell phones, texting and other distractions.
Now is a great time to convey the importance of this issue to your professional drivers. But what can a company do to change a driver's "personal" behaviors, such as using cell phones, texting, reading maps, staring at other drivers and other distractions? The same things that can be done to affect other behaviors: training and the adoption and enforcement of company policies.
Training
When training on distracted driving, there are three areas on which to focus: the regulations (federal, state and local), the real-world dangers associated with distracted driving and your company policies.
The federal prohibitions are found in 49 CFR sections 392.80 and 392.82, with section 390.5 supplying some of the definitions. These rules prohibit two activities for all interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers, as well as in-state drivers of vehicles carrying hazardous materials:
  • Texting while driving, and
  • Using a hand-held cell phone while driving.
Many states and cities are adopting restrictions on the use of in-cab technologies as well, so - if your drivers need to have such technologies - be sure to check the rules in the localities where your drivers operate.
Your training will have to address all the "What about...?" questions that arise, which is where you can focus on the specific devices that your drivers are using and how those devices may or may not be used under the rules and your policies. For example, hands-free cell phones and wireless earpieces are not prohibited (although they could be under state or company rules), and hand-held cell-phone calls may be made to law enforcement officials.
Also stress the problems associated with distraction and share these statistics from the DOT:
  • A driver who stares at his or her cell phone for just two seconds at 65 mph has traveled almost 200 feet without seeing the road. That's half the typical stopping distance, gone!
  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds (or more than 500 feet of travel distance at 65 mph).
  • In 2009, nearly 5,500 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction, and an estimated 448,000 were injured.
  • 16% of fatal crashes and 20% of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
  • Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
  • Headset cell-phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.
  • Using a cell phone while driving, whether it's hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.
If on-the-road use of cell phones and other technologies is critical for your drivers, train them on safer, legal and less distracting ways to use them, and stay abreast of new technologies that might be less distracting.
Policies
Although the laws and regulations set minimum standards for acceptable technology use, your company policies can go further and/or into more detail on what your company chooses to allow. More and more companies are creating policies to address driver distraction. While some only regulate the use of cell phones, others attempt to tackle anything that might divert a driver's attention away from safe driving. Such policies might cover:
  • The use of cell phones, whether hand-held or hands-free. The policy could address how drivers should handle both incoming and out-going messages/calls.
  • The use of other on-board communications devices, including CB radios.
  • Eating behind the wheel.
  • Cab cleanliness.
  • The reading of maps, directions, route plans or other materials.
  • Where and how to park the vehicle safely if it becomes necessary to use a cell phone or other device.
  • Any other actions that might distract from a driver's ability to maintain focus and awareness of surrounding hazards and to react quickly enough to avoid a hazard.
It's up to you to decide if you want to ban or restrict all or some of these activities, and whether to have exceptions for emergencies. If you choose to enact a distraction policy, you should inform and train your drivers and others (including dispatchers) on the policy, and you should be willing to enforce the policy "across the board."
Congratulations! Jay Vroom Named One of the 7 Most Compelling People in Ag
U.S. agriculture appears to be entering a new era marked by both greater risk and potentially greater rewards. The challenges and implications of agriculture are plentiful. How will agribusinesses capitalize more on the promise of biotechnology? When will the precise use of nutrients and pesticides become the norm? How will a new Farm Bill impact the farm safety net? Will the transition of the next generation of farmers be successful? These are just a handful of key questions that will begin to be answered over the next several years. Fortunately, one of agriculture's greatest resources is those individuals with the leadership to responsibly and creatively influence the future. These seven agriculture leaders are showing the initiative and direction within their organizations to help us navigate a fast-evolving industry.
As President and CEO of CropLife America - the largest national trade organization representing developers, manufacturers, formulators and distributors of agricultural pesticides across the U.S. - Jay Vroom has testified numerous times before U.S. congressional and regulatory bodies, and represents the U.S. plant science solution industry internationally. "The crop protection industry is committed to hearing and responding to consumer questions and concerns about U.S. agriculture, and to better communicating our investment and dedication to protecting human health and the environment," said Vroom at a recent symposium. Vroom has also spearheaded CLA's Modern Agriculture initiative, which was created to properly depict the innovation, stewardship and advancements continually made by growers to sustainably produce higher-quality products with a smaller environmental footprint.
The prestigious listing includes Hugh Grant with Monsanto, Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Steve A. Brown with the National FFA Organization, Bill Doyle with PotashCorp, Samuel R. Allen with Deere & Company and Bart Schott with the National Corn Growers Association.
State Labor Law Poster Update: (Click here to order.)
Mississippi - Workers' Compensation - Effective July 2012
Mississippi has amended its Workers' Compensation law. In the new amendment it is a requirement to post, in addition to the regular notice of coverage, an explanation of benefits based on the amendment. This includes a material substantive change and a new Mississippi Labor Law Poster is required.
Tennessee - Workers' Compensation - Effective May 2012
Tennessee removed a requirement for Workers' Compensation with regard to Contractors in the construction industry. Previously, contractors with 1 or more employees were stated to have a requirement to provide Workers' Comp insurance. The removal of this line places contractors in the more general 5 or more employee category for requiring insurance. This includes a material substantive change and a new Tennessee Labor Law Poster is required.
Texas - Child Labor Law - Effective April 2012
Texas has clarified a number of hazardous occupations for which restrictions are in place with regard to the employment of minors. Examples include the addition of occupations involving fire-fighting and timber tracts as well as the removal of exceptions to working with a baler in some cases not being a hazardous occupation. This includes a material substantive change and a new Texas Labor Law Poster is required.
2012 Asmark Institute, Inc. This information is believed to be reliable by the Asmark Institute, however, because of constantly changing government regulations, interpretations and applicability or the possibility of human, mechanical or computer error, the Asmark Institute does not guarantee the information as suitable for any particular purpose.
Heads-Up! 2012 CVSA RoadCheck is June 5-7th
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will be holding 2012 RoadCheck, their annual safety inspection blitz, from June 5-7th. In the course of 72 consecutive hours, vehicle inspectors and other law enforcement officers will be conducting over 65,000 commercial vehicle roadside inspections and other enforcement activities at more than 1,500 locations nationwide. Please be prepared for the event and advise your drivers well in advance.
Reminder: HazMat Annual Registration Expires on June 30th
If your company transports, or offers for transport, hazardous materials that require placarding by the DOT, they must be registered with the Department of Transportation (DOT). If your company registers with DOT annually, then your HazMat Registration expires on June 30th each year. If your company registers for a two or three year period, check your registration for the expiration year. A copy of the current registration must be carried in every company vehicle used to transport hazardous materials. You can register and pay the fee online at the DOT's website by clicking here.
Reminder: Iowa Floater Registration Renewal
The registration renewals for Floaters that exceed the 20,000/axle weight are due to the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) by June 30th. IDOT does not send notice reminding permit holders to renew. This type of annual permit can only be renewed, as a new permit cannot be issued for a piece of equipment that did not obtain the first permit prior to July 1, 2007. The renewal application (Annual Permit Application for a Self-Propelled Implement of Husbandry with Flotation Tires) is available by clicking here or also on IDOT's website. Complete the application and return it with your payment to: Office of Vehicle and Motor Carrier Services, PO Box 10382, Des Moines, IA 50306-0382.
National Safety School 2012 - Mark your calendars!
The National Agronomic Environmental Health & Safety School will be held in Bloomington, IL this year on August 21 & 22, 2012 at the new Asmark Institute Agricenter. There is a renewed interest and level of energy in the Safety School and we encourage each of our clients to register and participate in this quality program. An outstanding lineup of speakers has been secured for the 2012 program, including Richard Gearheard, President of Crop Production Services, Dr. Fred Whitford, Coordinator of the Purdue Pesticide Programs, Brian Bothast with OSHA and Warren Goetsch, Bureau Chief with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Topics include Building a Safety Culture, a Round Table on NPDES Permits, the ABC's of Trailers and Hitches, OSHA and DOT Hot Topics for 2012, Electrical Safety, OSHA Grain Inspections and Securing Your Business. Updates from industry professionals such as Pam Guffain with TFI, Inspector Ryan Gibson with DHS and George Hess with U.S. EPA, will be included on topics such as Ammonium Nitrate Regulations, CFATS, RMP and more. HAZWOPER emergency response refresher training will also be held in conjunction with the Safety School's activities. To view the agenda and register, please click here.
While in Bloomington that week, we recommend that you stay an extra day to attend the Midwest AG Industries Expo (MAGIE) on August 22 & 23, 2012. It's truly one of the finest displays of "ride and buy" shows in the United States. For more information on registering for MAGIE, click here.
DVD Training Videos Revitalized
The Asmark Institute DVD production team is in the process of updating and revitalizing the set of six DVD training videos geared for use with monthly, annual and new hire safety training. This update was prompted by ideas and comments from the last set of Performance Evaluations completed by clients, requesting new and improved DVDs. With the purchase of new equipment, our own in-house editing suite and the ability to shoot everything in high-definition (HD), the new safety training DVDs are being designed to rejuvenate your routine safety talks or group training sessions.
The production team consists of Dustin Warder, Brian Mason and Lauren Ebelhar, who are busy with preparations to launch the newly produced, first DVD in the set, by the end of the year. DVD #1 includes the eight OSHA subjects required for most employees. Additional plans are in place to release DVD #2 in 2013, followed by DVD #3 the following year, until all DVDs have been updated. Stay tuned as we transition to new technology, new people and a new look!
Casting Call for DVD Training Videos
Have you ever wanted to be famous and see your name up in lights? Now's your chance! As the Asmark Institute transitions the old set of training DVDs to the new, we are looking for locations that are willing to open their facilities for shooting of some of the video footage and "actors" who would like to participate in the filming. If you are interested in being a part of production, please call or email Dustin Warder at 270-926-4600 ext 203 or dustin@asmark.org for more information.
OSHA Kicks Off Summer Campaign to Prevent Heat-Related Illnesses
OSHA has kicked off a national outreach initiative to educate workers and their employers about the hazards of working outdoors in the heat and steps needed to prevent heat-related illnesses. OSHA's 2012 Heat Illness Prevention Campaign builds on last year's successful summer campaign, as well as CAL/OSHA's successful initiative in 2010. For outdoor workers, "water, rest and shade are three words that can make the difference between life and death," Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said. "If employers take reasonable precautions, and look out for their workers, we can beat the heat."
Each year, thousands of outdoor workers experience serious illnesses such as heat exhaustion. For 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 4,190 workers suffered from heat illness and 40 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job. Although outdoor workers in a variety of industries are susceptible to heat illness, those in construction and agriculture are the most vulnerable. For information and resources on heat illness, visit OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention page. To order quantities of OSHA's heat illness educational materials in English or Spanish, call OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999 or email Meilinger.Francis2@dol.gov.
OSHA Uses General Duty Clause to Cite Inadequate Workplace Violence Safeguards
An investigation into a complaint that a worker had been severely beaten and threatened by a client of a hospital in Wisconsin revealed that staff members had been assaulted numerous times. As a result, OSHA cited the employer for a serious violation of the agency's "General Duty Clause" for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause serious injury or death. Proposed penalties of $12,000 were assessed. In addition, OSHA cited three other-than-serious violations involving recordkeeping errors, which include:
  • A lack of entries for lost or restricted work days due to injury or illness on the OSHA 300 logs during 2011,
  • Failing to annually evaluate and inspect the energy control program, and
  • Failing to conduct annual reviews and updates of the bloodborne pathogen program.
The specialty hospital has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Illinois Approves Program to Protect Water Quality by Reducing Nutrient Losses
On May 22nd, Illinois lawmakers sent legislation to Governor Quinn that establishes a new program to help farmers use crop fertilizers more effectively, which is expected to reduce nutrient losses and deliver significant improvements in water quality. "We are challenged to improve both crop yields and water quality, and this will only happen through innovative nutrient research and on-farm practices aimed at accomplishing this mutual goal," said Jean Payne, President of the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association. The legislation, House Bill 5539, creates a Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC), which will utilize a fertilizer tonnage fee to establish and implement nutrient research, education and water quality programs. The bill is part of the "Keep it for the Crop" initiative, which is supported by a coalition of agricultural and environmental organizations working to improve soil and water quality in Illinois. The program seeks to fund a vibrant nutrient research and education program and provide fertilizer suppliers and farmers with science-based recommendations and in-field practices to reduce nutrient losses and enhance nutrient efficiency through the adoption of the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship - Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place. According to clean water advocates, the new programs will address a widespread water pollution problem in Illinois - high levels of nutrients in rivers, lakes and streams.
Nutrient pollution occurs when excess nitrogen and phosphorus occur in bodies of water, which promotes excessive algae and plant growth leading to oxygen depletion, which can kill fish and other aquatic life. According to IEPA, both point sources and non-point sources contribute to the problem; this legislation fills a critical need for a program to specifically address how non-point sources, including agricultural lands, can reduce phosphorus and nitrogen losses. "It's important to me that my children can someday become farmers, if that's what they want to do," said Gary Hudson, a family farmer from Hindsboro, IL. "I'm always looking to improve the way I farm for now and for generations to come. I know that the choices I make and methodologies I choose are important for my family and the families in Illinois and downstream. The 4Rs are definitely an important part of my continual improvements."
The tonnage fee will result in a secure, long-term funding mechanism for the NREC. The fertilizer industry also supports the IL Department of Agriculture's fertilizer quality and safety programs through product registration and licensing fees that have always been part of The Fertilizer Act. The funds raised will eliminate the need for funds from the State General Revenue Fund to administer The Fertilizer Act. "I'm pleased to see farmers, environmental advocates and the fertilizer industry working together to find clean water solutions that work for Illinois," said State Senator Michael Frerichs, the Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Conservation Committee, and Senate sponsor of the legislation. "We need to protect the quality of our waters, and the Nutrient Research and Education Council will help farmers do that, and help them avoid unnecessary costs." More information about the NREC is available online at www.KIC2025.org.
Syngenta Reaches Agreement to Settle Atrazine Lawsuit
Syngenta reached an agreement on May 24th to settle the lawsuits filed by Illinois community water systems regarding the use of atrazine. In a show of support for farmers, ag retailers, distributors and agriculture in general, the settlement releases all entities from liability related to the presence of atrazine in any water supply. Syngenta also acknowledges no liability, based on the fact that the plaintiffs were never able to come up with any scientific evidence regarding their claim that atrazine is not safe when used according to the label.
The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA), distributors and more than 50 Illinois ag retailers were involved in the lawsuit, having to produce documents, application records and respond to threats of deposition. For over 8 years this has been dragging on with no indication it was ever going to end. Syngenta agreed to settle for $105 million, with a portion of this money (after the trial lawyer's take) going to the community water systems if they accept the agreement. The settlement also assures that farmers, retailers, distributors and related entities will be released from liability related to the presence of atrazine in any water supply from the labeled use of the product.
The science has always been clear: No one has ever been or could have been exposed to enough atrazine in drinking water to affect their health. It is also clear that atrazine benefits agriculture by up to $3.3 billion annually, reduces soil erosion and supports American jobs.
In the end, this was never about the safety of atrazine. One can understand Syngenta's decision, which had to be extremely difficult to make. This brings closure for Syngenta's customers and the settlement does not impede any future utilization of atrazine according to the label. We believe it is tragic that the judicial system can be manipulated to make unsubstantiated claims against a reputable company and the legal use of a product that has been proven to be safe. Millions were spent in litigation, in the end serving no useful purpose for society as a whole. IFCA respects Syngenta's decision and commends them for the support they lent to IFCA and to the Illinois ag retailers who experienced first-hand this unfortunate manipulation of our legal system.
DOT Proposes Groundbreaking Rule for CMVs
Last week, the US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a new federal motor vehicle safety standard to require electronic stability control (ESC) systems on large commercial trucks, motorcoaches and other large buses for the first time ever. Agency research shows the technology could prevent up to 56% of rollover crashes each year and another 14% of loss-of-control crashes. With sensors that monitor vehicle movement and steering, ESC can help mitigate rollover incidents by using automatic computer-controlled braking, and also aid the driver in addressing severe understeer or oversteer conditions that can lead to loss of control. While many truck tractors and large buses can currently be ordered with this technology, the proposed standard would require ESC systems as standard equipment on these types of vehicles. As proposed, the rule would take effect between two and four years after the standard is finalized, depending on the type of vehicle. The systems would add $1,160 to the cost of a new truck.
EPA Releases Final Nitric Acid Plant Rule
On May 15th, EPA released a prepublication copy of its final rule entitled, "New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for Nitric Acid Plants (NAPs)." The Fertilizer Institute's (TFI) review of the final rule shows EPA has set a 0.5 lb/ton of nitric acid emission standard based on a 30 day averaging period that includes startup, shutdown and malfunctions, which is a six fold decrease from the previous NSPS. TFI members have expressed that many NAPs will be unable to meet this standard, which is triggered when a plant makes plant upgrades or modifications. TFI's Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Council and nitric acid subcommittee are currently discussing next steps to respond to the rule. For more information, please contact TFI's Vice President of Scientific Programs Bill Herz at wcherz@tfi.org.
EEOC Issues New Guidance on Using Criminal Background Checks
On April 25, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Council (EEOC) voted 4-1 to adopt new guidance regarding employer use of criminal background checks to screen applicants and current employees. This guidance will affect nearly every employer in the country. Based on a recent survey, over 90% of employers use criminal background checks for some applicants or employees and more than 70% of employers screen all their applicants or employees. Considering the EEOC's commitment to increasing the percentage of systemic discrimination (or class action) cases it brings over the next five years, you may want to revisit your criminal background check policy in light of the new guidance and ensure that your managers, hiring officials and supervisors are properly trained to implement your policy.
KENTUCKY: Mandatory Motor Vehicle Insurance Notices to Begin
As mandated by the Kentucky Legislature, uninsured motorists across the state will begin receiving notices in June that registrations for their personal vehicles will be canceled if they do not obtain required insurance or show proof of existing insurance. Registered owners of personal vehicles shown to have been without insurance for more than 60 days will receive the notices. The owners will have 30 days in which to obtain or present verification of coverage. Each month, the Transportation Department will compare vehicle identification numbers (VIN) submitted by insurance companies doing business in Kentucky with the VINs of vehicles registered to Kentucky owners. Owners who fail to take necessary action after being notified will be subject to citation for driving without valid registration.
NHTSA Examines "Vehicle-to-Vehicle" Communication Technology
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is testing new "vehicle-to-vehicle" communications technology that the agency says could prevent 80% of vehicle crashes by, for instance, alerting drivers when a fellow motorist is about to run a red light. NHTSA says the technology could eventually become mandatory.
Another Great Example of Why We Have So Many Regulations...
Fort Lee, N.J. police said they will begin issuing $85 jaywalking tickets to pedestrians who are caught texting while walking. The borough, which is home to approximately 35,000 residents, has suffered three fatal pedestrian-involved accidents this year. It is hoped the crackdown on people who display dangerous behavior while walking will make this town safer, but not everyone is on board with the idea of issuing $85 tickets. Officers handed out pamphlets during a short grace period in March before they began aggressively going after "dangerous walkers." More than 117 tickets have been issued, according to the New Jersey Record.
Put An End to Distracted Driving!
This article is made possible by J.J. Keller & Associates, a valued partner of the Asmark Institute for over 23 years. Our thanks to J.J. Keller for their support over the years and for the use of this article.
Distracted driving can kill! That's why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits interstate truck and bus drivers from texting or using hand-held cell phones while driving, and why more and more states, cities and employers are banning or limiting the use of cell phones, texting and other distractions.
Now is a great time to convey the importance of this issue to your professional drivers. But what can a company do to change a driver's "personal" behaviors, such as using cell phones, texting, reading maps, staring at other drivers and other distractions? The same things that can be done to affect other behaviors: training and the adoption and enforcement of company policies.
Training
When training on distracted driving, there are three areas on which to focus: the regulations (federal, state and local), the real-world dangers associated with distracted driving and your company policies.
The federal prohibitions are found in 49 CFR sections 392.80 and 392.82, with section 390.5 supplying some of the definitions. These rules prohibit two activities for all interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers, as well as in-state drivers of vehicles carrying hazardous materials:
  • Texting while driving, and
  • Using a hand-held cell phone while driving.
Many states and cities are adopting restrictions on the use of in-cab technologies as well, so - if your drivers need to have such technologies - be sure to check the rules in the localities where your drivers operate.
Your training will have to address all the "What about...?" questions that arise, which is where you can focus on the specific devices that your drivers are using and how those devices may or may not be used under the rules and your policies. For example, hands-free cell phones and wireless earpieces are not prohibited (although they could be under state or company rules), and hand-held cell-phone calls may be made to law enforcement officials.
Also stress the problems associated with distraction and share these statistics from the DOT:
  • A driver who stares at his or her cell phone for just two seconds at 65 mph has traveled almost 200 feet without seeing the road. That's half the typical stopping distance, gone!
  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds (or more than 500 feet of travel distance at 65 mph).
  • In 2009, nearly 5,500 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction, and an estimated 448,000 were injured.
  • 16% of fatal crashes and 20% of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
  • Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
  • Headset cell-phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.
  • Using a cell phone while driving, whether it's hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.
If on-the-road use of cell phones and other technologies is critical for your drivers, train them on safer, legal and less distracting ways to use them, and stay abreast of new technologies that might be less distracting.
Policies
Although the laws and regulations set minimum standards for acceptable technology use, your company policies can go further and/or into more detail on what your company chooses to allow. More and more companies are creating policies to address driver distraction. While some only regulate the use of cell phones, others attempt to tackle anything that might divert a driver's attention away from safe driving. Such policies might cover:
  • The use of cell phones, whether hand-held or hands-free. The policy could address how drivers should handle both incoming and out-going messages/calls.
  • The use of other on-board communications devices, including CB radios.
  • Eating behind the wheel.
  • Cab cleanliness.
  • The reading of maps, directions, route plans or other materials.
  • Where and how to park the vehicle safely if it becomes necessary to use a cell phone or other device.
  • Any other actions that might distract from a driver's ability to maintain focus and awareness of surrounding hazards and to react quickly enough to avoid a hazard.
It's up to you to decide if you want to ban or restrict all or some of these activities, and whether to have exceptions for emergencies. If you choose to enact a distraction policy, you should inform and train your drivers and others (including dispatchers) on the policy, and you should be willing to enforce the policy "across the board."
Congratulations! Jay Vroom Named One of the 7 Most Compelling People in Ag
U.S. agriculture appears to be entering a new era marked by both greater risk and potentially greater rewards. The challenges and implications of agriculture are plentiful. How will agribusinesses capitalize more on the promise of biotechnology? When will the precise use of nutrients and pesticides become the norm? How will a new Farm Bill impact the farm safety net? Will the transition of the next generation of farmers be successful? These are just a handful of key questions that will begin to be answered over the next several years. Fortunately, one of agriculture's greatest resources is those individuals with the leadership to responsibly and creatively influence the future. These seven agriculture leaders are showing the initiative and direction within their organizations to help us navigate a fast-evolving industry.
As President and CEO of CropLife America - the largest national trade organization representing developers, manufacturers, formulators and distributors of agricultural pesticides across the U.S. - Jay Vroom has testified numerous times before U.S. congressional and regulatory bodies, and represents the U.S. plant science solution industry internationally. "The crop protection industry is committed to hearing and responding to consumer questions and concerns about U.S. agriculture, and to better communicating our investment and dedication to protecting human health and the environment," said Vroom at a recent symposium. Vroom has also spearheaded CLA's Modern Agriculture initiative, which was created to properly depict the innovation, stewardship and advancements continually made by growers to sustainably produce higher-quality products with a smaller environmental footprint.
The prestigious listing includes Hugh Grant with Monsanto, Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Steve A. Brown with the National FFA Organization, Bill Doyle with PotashCorp, Samuel R. Allen with Deere & Company and Bart Schott with the National Corn Growers Association.
State Labor Law Poster Update: (Click here to order.)
Mississippi - Workers' Compensation - Effective July 2012
Mississippi has amended its Workers' Compensation law. In the new amendment it is a requirement to post, in addition to the regular notice of coverage, an explanation of benefits based on the amendment. This includes a material substantive change and a new Mississippi Labor Law Poster is required.
Tennessee - Workers' Compensation - Effective May 2012
Tennessee removed a requirement for Workers' Compensation with regard to Contractors in the construction industry. Previously, contractors with 1 or more employees were stated to have a requirement to provide Workers' Comp insurance. The removal of this line places contractors in the more general 5 or more employee category for requiring insurance. This includes a material substantive change and a new Tennessee Labor Law Poster is required.
Texas - Child Labor Law - Effective April 2012
Texas has clarified a number of hazardous occupations for which restrictions are in place with regard to the employment of minors. Examples include the addition of occupations involving fire-fighting and timber tracts as well as the removal of exceptions to working with a baler in some cases not being a hazardous occupation. This includes a material substantive change and a new Texas Labor Law Poster is required.
2012 Asmark Institute, Inc. This information is believed to be reliable by the Asmark Institute, however, because of constantly changing government regulations, interpretations and applicability or the possibility of human, mechanical or computer error, the Asmark Institute does not guarantee the information as suitable for any particular purpose.