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Newsletter
Volume 107
October 1, 2012
Casting Call Answered for Training Video Update
Training Video Update
Thank you to all the facilities that responded to our call for "actors" by opening their facilities up for shooting video footage. The Asmark Institute DVD production team consisting of Dustin Warder, Brian Mason and Lauren Ebelhar has literally traveled from coast to coast filming at various farm centers across the country. They are winding down the gathering of footage for a completely new DVD #1 and ramping up the editing and proof process. The production team is on track to launch the newly produced DVD #1 in December when the 2013 schedules are published. At the risk of disappointing a few, the introduction music is changing along with all previously used footage. Get ready for a new look when completing monthly, annual and new hire safety training. If you missed the casting call this time, don't worry. Additional plans are in place to release DVD #2 in 2013, followed by DVD #3 the following year, until all DVDs have been updated.
Asmus Named Chair of North American CCA Board
Congratulations to Amy Asmus, Vice President of Asmus Farm Supply in Rake, IA, for being named Chair of the North American Certified Crop Advisors Board (NCCA) recently at their meeting in Boise, Idaho. Asmus, who graduated with a Fine Arts degree in graphic design from Iowa State University, became heavily involved in agriculture in 2004 after she and her husband Harlan bought the family business from her father-in-law Harvey Asmus. "Asmus Farm Supply is the main reason I became a CCA," said Asmus in an interview last year after being named the first female member of the International Crop Advisor Board. "I didn't really know agriculture, but I needed to in order to become effective at helping our customers." Currently, Asmus also serves on the Iowa Certified Crop Adviser Board.
Urbanowski Grassroots Award
The Urbanowski Grassroots Award is presented to allies who work to promote our industry within communities and through grassroots activities and is named in honor of Richard L. Urbanowski, who served as Chairman of Crop Life America from 1993 through 1995. The 2012 recipient of the Urbanowski Grassroots Award is Jean Payne of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association. Jean's ability to actively lead on regional and federal issues affecting the agriculture chemical industry is critical to educating the public, media and government officials about the impacts of potential rules and regulations. We join many others in offering congratulations to Jean on her award.
Agricultural Hours of Service Exemption Restored
Effective Monday, October 1, 2012, new federal law takes effect that restores the agricultural hours of service exemption for the transportation of all farm supplies and commodities from all distribution points, within a specified air mile radius. You may now transport any farm supply (i.e. dry and liquid fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia, pesticides, seed, feed) from a distribution point (terminal or warehouse) to the retail site, and from retail to farm, and farm to farm. Caution should be exercised hauling these products in intrastate commerce as most states adhere to a 100 air mile radius. If you are crossing state lines with these movements (interstate), you can take advantage of a 150 air mile radius between the distribution points. The special Hours of Service waiver for the transport of anhydrous ammonia is no longer necessary after October 1, 2012 due to these changes. Click here to view the recent Federal Register Notice (PDF) or here for the Frequently Asked Questions.
Minnesota Agricultural Pesticide Sales Invoice Audits
Approximately 300 Minnesota Pesticide License Dealers have been mailed a letter recently containing an inspection requirement to submit to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) a current customer invoice showing sales of agricultural pesticides. This group of 300 licensed pesticide dealers includes approximately 70 new dealers who acquired licenses for the first time in the past year. Dealers' sales invoices of agricultural pesticide must comply with the specification of Minnesota Law Statutes 18B.316 subd. 6., and 18E.03 subd. 4. B. MDA is in the third year of the Agricultural Pesticide Dealer Sales Reporting and Fee Program, so they are anticipating a high percent of dealer compliance with sales invoices.
NLRB Poster Rule in Appellate Court
The second round of lawsuits against the NLRB's "poster rule" got underway recently with arguments in the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. The rule, announced in August 2011, would require business owners to prominently post a notice in the workplace telling employees how to unionize. After the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued the notice in 2011, several business groups sued to stop the rule. The business groups argued in court that the NLRB doesn't have authority to impose a posting requirement on over six million employers, only Congress does -- and Congress hasn't told the NLRB to issue a poster.
I-9 Form That Expired 8/31/12 Still Valid
On August 13, 2012, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 (with a revision date of August 7, 2009) will continue to be valid beyond its expiration date of August 31, 2012. Until further notice, employers should continue using the Form I-9 currently available. USCIS still plans to issue a new form that will likely include revised instructions and layout, and an option to collect the employee's email address and telephone number. As a reminder, federal regulations require that all employers complete a Form I-9 for every employee within the first three days of employment and to retain that form for either one year after termination of employment or three years, whichever is longer.
E-Verify Reauthorized
Congress approved reauthorization through 2015 of the E-Verify program, the federal computerized system that permits employers to verify the citizenship status of prospective employees. About 300,000 companies use E-Verify and nine states require the program to be used to identify illegal aliens. The program has been controversial because of alleged inaccuracies in the database, but supporters said they'll use the 113th Congress to push for national mandatory use of the E-Verify program by all employers.
Rabobank Sees Impact of "Agflation"
Rabobank recently said world food prices will spike to record highs in 2013, the result of "agflation" based on rising ag commodity prices. The spikes will affect feed crops and have "serious repercussions" for livestock, dairy and poultry producers. Price spikes are predicted to "stall the long-term trend towards higher protein diets in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa," the ag lender said. Rabobank said the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Price Index will rise by 15% by the end of June, 2013, and the lender sees prices for grains and oilseeds remaining "at elevated levels for at least the next 12 months."
New Nitrogen Plant Announced for Southern Indiana
Construction of a $1 billion nitrogen fertilizer facility is being proposed for Spencer County, Indiana. It would provide fertilizer for farmers in the Eastern Corn Belt, according to Doug Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Ohio Valley Resources, LLC, which on Wednesday announced the filing of an air-quality permit application with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management on September 17th for the proposed site North of Rockport.
Reminder: EEO-1 Reports Due September 30th
Companies with 100 or more employees (including both full-time and part-time) must submit Form EEO -1 to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) annually, by September 30th. This report tracks your company's workforce by gender, ethnicity and job groupings. Companies with fewer than 100 employees must also file if the company is owned by, or corporately affiliated with, another company and the entire enterprise employs a total of 100 or more employees. For more information on the EEO-1 report, visit the EEOC website.
State Labor Law Poster Update - (Click here to order.)
Louisiana - Independent Contractor or Employee notice - Effective September 2012
The state of Louisiana has released a new required notice that gives information on the classification of workers as employees or independent contractors. It includes information on how to properly classify, as well as the penalties for misclassification. This includes a material substantive change and a new Louisiana All-In-One poster is required.
New Hampshire - Criteria to Establish an Employee or Independent Contractor - Effective October 2012
New Hampshire altered the Criteria to Establish an Employee or Independent Contractor notice. Formerly there were 12 criteria; the new version lists only 7 that must be met to be considered an employee. This includes a material substantive change and a new New Hampshire All-In-One poster is required.
New Jersey - Gender Equality in Pay - Effective October 2012
This is an entirely new notice that will become required 30 days after the Labor Commission releases the notice. The notice will describe state and federal laws regarding gender equality in payment of wages. Employers (with 50 or more employees) must both post the new notice and provide each employee with a copy (they must also have the employees sign a notification of receipt of this notice). This includes a material substantive change and a new New Jersey All-In-One poster is required.
CSA Improvements Announced by FMCSA
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced several new improvements to its Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) enforcement program that will enable it to more quickly identify and address high-risk truck and bus companies with compliance concerns. "Good data plays a key role in keeping our nation's roads safe," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "These improvements will enable us to better identify and address unsafe truck and bus companies before tragedies occur."
The final CSA changes will provide FMCSA with more precise information when assessing a company's over-the-road safety performance. The changes will be implemented in December 2012 and include:
  • Changing the Cargo-Related BASIC (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) to the Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance BASIC to better identify HM safety and compliance problems. FMCSA analysis shows that this change will identify more carriers with HM concerns (33.8 percent versus 29.1 percent). Carriers and law enforcement can view this new BASIC in December. FMCSA will conduct further monitoring before it is made public.
  • Changing the Fatigued Driving BASIC to the more specific Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance BASIC to more accurately reflect violations in this area; and weighting HOS paper and electronic logbook violations equally.
  • Clarifying definition of passenger carrier companies by:
    • Adding carriers that operate for-hire 9-15 passenger vehicles and 16-plus passenger vehicles;
    • Removing carriers operating only 1-8 passenger vehicles and private carriers operating 1-15 passenger vehicles such as limousines, vans, and taxis.
    • Strengthening the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC by including cargo/load securement violations from today's Cargo-Related BASIC.
    • Including intermodal equipment violations that should be found during drivers' pre-trip inspections.
    • Removing 1 to 5 mph speeding violations to ensure citations are consistent with current speedometer regulations.
    • Ensuring all recorded violations accurately reflect the inspection type (i.e., only driver violations will be recorded under driver inspections).
"CSA is raising the bar for truck and bus safety. Our preliminary data shows that fatalities involving commercial vehicles dropped 4.7 percent last year compared to 2010," said FMCSA Administrator Ferro. "Still, on average, nearly 4,000 people die in large truck and bus crashes each year. That is why we are implementing these important changes to make CSA even more effective."
FMCSA provided a four-month preview period to ensure the public had multiple opportunities to review and comment on the proposed changes to CSA's online Safety Measurement System. Overall, 14,000 carriers and 1,700 law enforcement personnel participated in the public preview. A Federal Register Notice responds to the comments received as of July 30, 2012, regarding the preview of the updates to the system.
GCWR Definition Revised in FMCSRs
FMCSA has amended the definition of "gross combination weight rating" (GCWR) in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). The definition currently prescribes how the GCWR is calculated if the vehicle manufacturer does not include the information on the vehicle certification label required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Agency has determined the definition should not include what is essentially guidance that is difficult for the motor carrier and enforcement communities to use. Therefore, FMCSA amends this definition to state that the GCWR is the value specified by the commercial motor vehicle manufacturer.
This rule is effective October 26, 2012, unless an adverse comment or notice of intent to submit an adverse comment, is either submitted to our online docket via regulations.gov on or before September 26, 2012, or reaches the Docket Management Facility by that date. If an adverse comment or notice of intent to submit an adverse comment is received by September 26, 2012, FMCSA will withdraw this direct final rule and publish a timely notice of withdrawal in the Federal Register.
Statewide Ohio Texting Ban in Effect
Ohio's new law banning texting while driving - and prohibiting teens from using wireless communications devices in any way while driving - went into effect August 31st. For those under age 18, it's illegal to use any electronic wireless communications device while driving in Ohio, even while sitting at a light or stuck in traffic. This includes using a cell phone, sending or reading a text or e-mail, using a computer, laptop or tablet, playing video games, or using a GPS (unless it's a voice-operated or hands-free device). For adults, it's illegal to use a handheld electronic wireless communications device to type, send or read a text. For the first six months, law enforcement will give warnings only. After that, fines start at $150 for the first offense. NOTE: The state law doesn't invalidate or supersede local laws, meaning that local jurisdictions with their own texting laws can continue to enforce those local laws or cite drivers under the new state law.
HAZWOPER Training Explained; Based on Functions/Duties
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.
Emergency responders must be trained prior to their participation in emergency response operations, and their training must be based on the functions and duties the responders will be expected to perform. For example, if an employee is simply expected to notify the emergency response team upon discovery of an emergency release and evacuate from the area, the employee would be trained to the first responder awareness level. Consequently, employers must evaluate the roles and tasks that employees will perform and train them appropriately.
Take a look at the different responder levels and their initial and refresher training requirements, found under 29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6) and (q)(8), respectively:
Responder level:
Duties:
Initial training:
Annual refresher?
First Responder Awareness Level
Witnesses or discovers a release of hazardous substances and is trained to notify the proper authorities
Sufficient initial training and competencies
Yes
First Responder Operations Level
Responds to the releases of hazardous substances in a defensive manner, without trying to stop the release
8 hours initial training and competencies
Yes
Hazardous Materials Technician
Responds aggressively to stop the release of hazardous substances
24 hours initial training and competencies
Yes
Hazardous Materials Specialist
Responds with and in support of HAZMAT technicians but has specific knowledge of various hazardous substances
24 hours initial training and competencies
Yes
On-Scene Incident Commander
Assumes control of the incident scene beyond the first responder awareness level
24 hours initial training and competencies
Yes
Note that if the employee is expected to approach the point of release for the purpose of stopping the release, the employee would minimally need to be trained to the HAZMAT technician level.
In addition to the training levels established in the standard for emergency responders, two additional personnel classifications are provided: skilled support personnel and specialist employees. Take a look at the training for those two classifications, in accordance with §1910.120(q)(4) and (q)(5):
Personnel classification:
Duties:
Training:
Skilled Support Personnel
Temporarily perform immediate emergency support work (e.g., excavator operators)
Initial site safety and health briefing at the response site, covering personal protective equipment use, the chemical hazards involved, and the tasks to be performed
Specialist Employees
Provide technical advice or assistance on specific hazardous substances during a release incident
Annual demonstration of specialized competencies
Trainer qualifications are covered in paragraph (q)(7) of the §1910.120. Trainers who teach any of the training subjects must either:
  • Have completed a training course on the subjects they are expected to teach, or
  • Have the training and/or academic credentials and instructional experience to demonstrate competent teaching skills.
In addition, employees need not necessarily receive a certificate, but the employer must certify training with some form of documentation. (Be aware that the HAZWOPER standard does not contain a specific certification requirement for awareness level training). It is considered good practice to provide employees with a training certificate as well as to document the training in the employer's records. The employer also must document in its written emergency response plan the employer's training plan for personnel who respond to hazardous substance incidents.
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.
Casting Call Answered for Training Video Update
Training Video Update
Thank you to all the facilities that responded to our call for "actors" by opening their facilities up for shooting video footage. The Asmark Institute DVD production team consisting of Dustin Warder, Brian Mason and Lauren Ebelhar has literally traveled from coast to coast filming at various farm centers across the country. They are winding down the gathering of footage for a completely new DVD #1 and ramping up the editing and proof process. The production team is on track to launch the newly produced DVD #1 in December when the 2013 schedules are published. At the risk of disappointing a few, the introduction music is changing along with all previously used footage. Get ready for a new look when completing monthly, annual and new hire safety training. If you missed the casting call this time, don't worry. Additional plans are in place to release DVD #2 in 2013, followed by DVD #3 the following year, until all DVDs have been updated.
Asmus Named Chair of North American CCA Board
Congratulations to Amy Asmus, Vice President of Asmus Farm Supply in Rake, IA, for being named Chair of the North American Certified Crop Advisors Board (NCCA) recently at their meeting in Boise, Idaho. Asmus, who graduated with a Fine Arts degree in graphic design from Iowa State University, became heavily involved in agriculture in 2004 after she and her husband Harlan bought the family business from her father-in-law Harvey Asmus. "Asmus Farm Supply is the main reason I became a CCA," said Asmus in an interview last year after being named the first female member of the International Crop Advisor Board. "I didn't really know agriculture, but I needed to in order to become effective at helping our customers." Currently, Asmus also serves on the Iowa Certified Crop Adviser Board.
Urbanowski Grassroots Award
The Urbanowski Grassroots Award is presented to allies who work to promote our industry within communities and through grassroots activities and is named in honor of Richard L. Urbanowski, who served as Chairman of Crop Life America from 1993 through 1995. The 2012 recipient of the Urbanowski Grassroots Award is Jean Payne of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association. Jean's ability to actively lead on regional and federal issues affecting the agriculture chemical industry is critical to educating the public, media and government officials about the impacts of potential rules and regulations. We join many others in offering congratulations to Jean on her award.
Agricultural Hours of Service Exemption Restored
Effective Monday, October 1, 2012, new federal law takes effect that restores the agricultural hours of service exemption for the transportation of all farm supplies and commodities from all distribution points, within a specified air mile radius. You may now transport any farm supply (i.e. dry and liquid fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia, pesticides, seed, feed) from a distribution point (terminal or warehouse) to the retail site, and from retail to farm, and farm to farm. Caution should be exercised hauling these products in intrastate commerce as most states adhere to a 100 air mile radius. If you are crossing state lines with these movements (interstate), you can take advantage of a 150 air mile radius between the distribution points. The special Hours of Service waiver for the transport of anhydrous ammonia is no longer necessary after October 1, 2012 due to these changes. Click here to view the recent Federal Register Notice (PDF) or here for the Frequently Asked Questions.
Minnesota Agricultural Pesticide Sales Invoice Audits
Approximately 300 Minnesota Pesticide License Dealers have been mailed a letter recently containing an inspection requirement to submit to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) a current customer invoice showing sales of agricultural pesticides. This group of 300 licensed pesticide dealers includes approximately 70 new dealers who acquired licenses for the first time in the past year. Dealers' sales invoices of agricultural pesticide must comply with the specification of Minnesota Law Statutes 18B.316 subd. 6., and 18E.03 subd. 4. B. MDA is in the third year of the Agricultural Pesticide Dealer Sales Reporting and Fee Program, so they are anticipating a high percent of dealer compliance with sales invoices.
NLRB Poster Rule in Appellate Court
The second round of lawsuits against the NLRB's "poster rule" got underway recently with arguments in the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. The rule, announced in August 2011, would require business owners to prominently post a notice in the workplace telling employees how to unionize. After the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued the notice in 2011, several business groups sued to stop the rule. The business groups argued in court that the NLRB doesn't have authority to impose a posting requirement on over six million employers, only Congress does -- and Congress hasn't told the NLRB to issue a poster.
I-9 Form That Expired 8/31/12 Still Valid
On August 13, 2012, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 (with a revision date of August 7, 2009) will continue to be valid beyond its expiration date of August 31, 2012. Until further notice, employers should continue using the Form I-9 currently available. USCIS still plans to issue a new form that will likely include revised instructions and layout, and an option to collect the employee's email address and telephone number. As a reminder, federal regulations require that all employers complete a Form I-9 for every employee within the first three days of employment and to retain that form for either one year after termination of employment or three years, whichever is longer.
E-Verify Reauthorized
Congress approved reauthorization through 2015 of the E-Verify program, the federal computerized system that permits employers to verify the citizenship status of prospective employees. About 300,000 companies use E-Verify and nine states require the program to be used to identify illegal aliens. The program has been controversial because of alleged inaccuracies in the database, but supporters said they'll use the 113th Congress to push for national mandatory use of the E-Verify program by all employers.
Rabobank Sees Impact of "Agflation"
Rabobank recently said world food prices will spike to record highs in 2013, the result of "agflation" based on rising ag commodity prices. The spikes will affect feed crops and have "serious repercussions" for livestock, dairy and poultry producers. Price spikes are predicted to "stall the long-term trend towards higher protein diets in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa," the ag lender said. Rabobank said the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Price Index will rise by 15% by the end of June, 2013, and the lender sees prices for grains and oilseeds remaining "at elevated levels for at least the next 12 months."
New Nitrogen Plant Announced for Southern Indiana
Construction of a $1 billion nitrogen fertilizer facility is being proposed for Spencer County, Indiana. It would provide fertilizer for farmers in the Eastern Corn Belt, according to Doug Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Ohio Valley Resources, LLC, which on Wednesday announced the filing of an air-quality permit application with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management on September 17th for the proposed site North of Rockport.
Reminder: EEO-1 Reports Due September 30th
Companies with 100 or more employees (including both full-time and part-time) must submit Form EEO -1 to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) annually, by September 30th. This report tracks your company's workforce by gender, ethnicity and job groupings. Companies with fewer than 100 employees must also file if the company is owned by, or corporately affiliated with, another company and the entire enterprise employs a total of 100 or more employees. For more information on the EEO-1 report, visit the EEOC website.
State Labor Law Poster Update - (Click here to order.)
Louisiana - Independent Contractor or Employee notice - Effective September 2012
The state of Louisiana has released a new required notice that gives information on the classification of workers as employees or independent contractors. It includes information on how to properly classify, as well as the penalties for misclassification. This includes a material substantive change and a new Louisiana All-In-One poster is required.
New Hampshire - Criteria to Establish an Employee or Independent Contractor - Effective October 2012
New Hampshire altered the Criteria to Establish an Employee or Independent Contractor notice. Formerly there were 12 criteria; the new version lists only 7 that must be met to be considered an employee. This includes a material substantive change and a new New Hampshire All-In-One poster is required.
New Jersey - Gender Equality in Pay - Effective October 2012
This is an entirely new notice that will become required 30 days after the Labor Commission releases the notice. The notice will describe state and federal laws regarding gender equality in payment of wages. Employers (with 50 or more employees) must both post the new notice and provide each employee with a copy (they must also have the employees sign a notification of receipt of this notice). This includes a material substantive change and a new New Jersey All-In-One poster is required.
CSA Improvements Announced by FMCSA
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced several new improvements to its Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) enforcement program that will enable it to more quickly identify and address high-risk truck and bus companies with compliance concerns. "Good data plays a key role in keeping our nation's roads safe," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "These improvements will enable us to better identify and address unsafe truck and bus companies before tragedies occur."
The final CSA changes will provide FMCSA with more precise information when assessing a company's over-the-road safety performance. The changes will be implemented in December 2012 and include:
  • Changing the Cargo-Related BASIC (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) to the Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance BASIC to better identify HM safety and compliance problems. FMCSA analysis shows that this change will identify more carriers with HM concerns (33.8 percent versus 29.1 percent). Carriers and law enforcement can view this new BASIC in December. FMCSA will conduct further monitoring before it is made public.
  • Changing the Fatigued Driving BASIC to the more specific Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance BASIC to more accurately reflect violations in this area; and weighting HOS paper and electronic logbook violations equally.
  • Clarifying definition of passenger carrier companies by:
    • Adding carriers that operate for-hire 9-15 passenger vehicles and 16-plus passenger vehicles;
    • Removing carriers operating only 1-8 passenger vehicles and private carriers operating 1-15 passenger vehicles such as limousines, vans, and taxis.
    • Strengthening the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC by including cargo/load securement violations from today's Cargo-Related BASIC.
    • Including intermodal equipment violations that should be found during drivers' pre-trip inspections.
    • Removing 1 to 5 mph speeding violations to ensure citations are consistent with current speedometer regulations.
    • Ensuring all recorded violations accurately reflect the inspection type (i.e., only driver violations will be recorded under driver inspections).
"CSA is raising the bar for truck and bus safety. Our preliminary data shows that fatalities involving commercial vehicles dropped 4.7 percent last year compared to 2010," said FMCSA Administrator Ferro. "Still, on average, nearly 4,000 people die in large truck and bus crashes each year. That is why we are implementing these important changes to make CSA even more effective."
FMCSA provided a four-month preview period to ensure the public had multiple opportunities to review and comment on the proposed changes to CSA's online Safety Measurement System. Overall, 14,000 carriers and 1,700 law enforcement personnel participated in the public preview. A Federal Register Notice responds to the comments received as of July 30, 2012, regarding the preview of the updates to the system.
GCWR Definition Revised in FMCSRs
FMCSA has amended the definition of "gross combination weight rating" (GCWR) in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). The definition currently prescribes how the GCWR is calculated if the vehicle manufacturer does not include the information on the vehicle certification label required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Agency has determined the definition should not include what is essentially guidance that is difficult for the motor carrier and enforcement communities to use. Therefore, FMCSA amends this definition to state that the GCWR is the value specified by the commercial motor vehicle manufacturer.
This rule is effective October 26, 2012, unless an adverse comment or notice of intent to submit an adverse comment, is either submitted to our online docket via regulations.gov on or before September 26, 2012, or reaches the Docket Management Facility by that date. If an adverse comment or notice of intent to submit an adverse comment is received by September 26, 2012, FMCSA will withdraw this direct final rule and publish a timely notice of withdrawal in the Federal Register.
Statewide Ohio Texting Ban in Effect
Ohio's new law banning texting while driving - and prohibiting teens from using wireless communications devices in any way while driving - went into effect August 31st. For those under age 18, it's illegal to use any electronic wireless communications device while driving in Ohio, even while sitting at a light or stuck in traffic. This includes using a cell phone, sending or reading a text or e-mail, using a computer, laptop or tablet, playing video games, or using a GPS (unless it's a voice-operated or hands-free device). For adults, it's illegal to use a handheld electronic wireless communications device to type, send or read a text. For the first six months, law enforcement will give warnings only. After that, fines start at $150 for the first offense. NOTE: The state law doesn't invalidate or supersede local laws, meaning that local jurisdictions with their own texting laws can continue to enforce those local laws or cite drivers under the new state law.
HAZWOPER Training Explained; Based on Functions/Duties
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.
Emergency responders must be trained prior to their participation in emergency response operations, and their training must be based on the functions and duties the responders will be expected to perform. For example, if an employee is simply expected to notify the emergency response team upon discovery of an emergency release and evacuate from the area, the employee would be trained to the first responder awareness level. Consequently, employers must evaluate the roles and tasks that employees will perform and train them appropriately.
Take a look at the different responder levels and their initial and refresher training requirements, found under 29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6) and (q)(8), respectively:
Responder level:
Duties:
Initial training:
Annual refresher?
First Responder Awareness Level
Witnesses or discovers a release of hazardous substances and is trained to notify the proper authorities
Sufficient initial training and competencies
Yes
First Responder Operations Level
Responds to the releases of hazardous substances in a defensive manner, without trying to stop the release
8 hours initial training and competencies
Yes
Hazardous Materials Technician
Responds aggressively to stop the release of hazardous substances
24 hours initial training and competencies
Yes
Hazardous Materials Specialist
Responds with and in support of HAZMAT technicians but has specific knowledge of various hazardous substances
24 hours initial training and competencies
Yes
On-Scene Incident Commander
Assumes control of the incident scene beyond the first responder awareness level
24 hours initial training and competencies
Yes
Note that if the employee is expected to approach the point of release for the purpose of stopping the release, the employee would minimally need to be trained to the HAZMAT technician level.
In addition to the training levels established in the standard for emergency responders, two additional personnel classifications are provided: skilled support personnel and specialist employees. Take a look at the training for those two classifications, in accordance with §1910.120(q)(4) and (q)(5):
Personnel classification:
Duties:
Training:
Skilled Support Personnel
Temporarily perform immediate emergency support work (e.g., excavator operators)
Initial site safety and health briefing at the response site, covering personal protective equipment use, the chemical hazards involved, and the tasks to be performed
Specialist Employees
Provide technical advice or assistance on specific hazardous substances during a release incident
Annual demonstration of specialized competencies
Trainer qualifications are covered in paragraph (q)(7) of the §1910.120. Trainers who teach any of the training subjects must either:
  • Have completed a training course on the subjects they are expected to teach, or
  • Have the training and/or academic credentials and instructional experience to demonstrate competent teaching skills.
In addition, employees need not necessarily receive a certificate, but the employer must certify training with some form of documentation. (Be aware that the HAZWOPER standard does not contain a specific certification requirement for awareness level training). It is considered good practice to provide employees with a training certificate as well as to document the training in the employer's records. The employer also must document in its written emergency response plan the employer's training plan for personnel who respond to hazardous substance incidents.
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.