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Newsletter
Volume 112
March 4, 2013
Environmental Respect Awards: Two Weeks Left to Enter
An Environmental Respect Award is not a one-time honor. It is about carrying the flag, being advocates for agriculture and pledging a lifetime commitment. March 16th is the deadline to pledge your commitment. Click here to enter. For more information, or if you have questions on how to enter, e-mail respect@meistermedia.com or call 440-942-2000.
Performance Evaluation Results......Update
With only a couple of surveys coming back weekly, response so far has exceeded an impressive 63%, with 95.92% of the total respondents indicating they are "satisfied" with our overall performance. More than 56% of the respondents identified themselves or their facility. Our staff has made more than 100 follow-up calls based on the comments we received. Click here to see the final copy of the tabulated results for the past five Performance Evaluations. Thank you to everyone that took the time to fill out the evaluation and return it!
Don't Forget the March 1st Deadline
As a reminder worth mentioning, SARA Tier II submissions were due on March 1st. These are annual requirements that most retailers are familiar with; however, the penalties have become quite severe for non-compliance. Please ensure your facility has submitted the 2012 SARA Tier II reports. Please contact Donna (Ext 205) or Jessica (Ext 229) if you have questions.
Pesticide-Production Report Update
Reminder: Asmark Institute submits and documents receipt of the Pesticide Production Report by U.S. EPA for each of our clients. All clients' reports were shipped just prior to the March 1st deadline and have been received by U.S. EPA. Work will begin soon to make file copies of the reports along with the documentation where U.S. EPA signed for the reports. Each facility will receive their file copies around March 20th.
2013 Regulatory Posters Coming Soon!
The 2013 regulatory posters will ship later this month. The posters are normally updated and shipped around the middle of February, but were delayed this year due to shipping description sequence changes from manufacturers. The set of three includes posters with information on DOT shipping descriptions, Worker Protection Standards and Restricted-Use Products. As a reminder, please be sure to replace all outdated 2012 posters with the updated 2013 posters when you receive them. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Amber Duke at amber@asmark.org or 270-926-4600, Extension 213.
New Hazardous Materials Shipping Description Sequence
In 2007, DOT changed the hazmat shipping paper description sequence requirement to be aligned with the rest of the world. To ease the transition, DOT allowed shippers to use the old sequence until January 1, 2013, when compliance became mandatory. The new shipping description sequence on all hazardous materials per 49 CFR 172.202 is Identification Number (UN or NA), Proper Shipping Name, Hazard Class and Packing Group, as shown in this example.
New Sequence: UN1993, Flammable Liquids, N.O.S., (Contains Methanol), 3, PG III
During the transition period since 2007 most manufacturers slowly updated Safety Data Sheets to include the new shipping description sequence in the transport information section. However, there are still a few manufacturers that have not yet made the change. We have waited this year to print the regulatory posters, which include DOT shipping descriptions, to ensure that all shipping descriptions are presented in the new sequence. Click here for DOT's Guide for Preparing Shipping Papers using the new sequence.
Reminder: 300A Should be Posted
OSHA requires your previous year's Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300A) to be displayed from February 1st to April 30th of each year in a conspicuous place where employee notices are customarily posted. See any one of our last two newsletters for more information.
Postal Service to Stop Saturday Mail Delivery
Starting in August, the Postal Service will no longer deliver regular mail to street addresses on Saturdays. Mail will be delivered Monday through Friday. Packages will still be delivered on Saturdays, mail will still be delivered to PO Boxes on Saturdays, and Post Office locations currently open on Saturdays will remain open. Discontinuing Saturday delivery is expected to save the Postal Service $2 billion annually. Tip: Check out our Electronic Service Program (ESP) and bypass the frustration of snail mail.
Online Anhydrous Ammonia Safety Awareness Program Now Available
The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) in cooperation with Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Corn Growers Association and Illinois Department of Agriculture, have developed a new online anhydrous ammonia safety awareness program for farmers. Kevin Runkle, IFCA Regulatory Affairs Manager, coordinated the development of this new program. Funded by a grant from the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council (NREC), the online program consists of five training modules covering Properties and Characteristics of Anhydrous Ammonia, Proper Personal Protective Equipment, Transportation To/From the Field, Safe Hook-Up in the Field and Emergency/First Aid Procedures. There is no cost to use the safety awareness program, which is specifically designed for use for on-farm employees and family members who work around, transport, or apply anhydrous ammonia. Over the last two years there have been an increased number of anhydrous ammonia releases and hospitalization due to inhalation or skin exposure. The safety awareness program can be accessed 24/7 by going to ifca.com and clicking on the link at the top of the IFCA homepage. The training module can also be accessed at learning.ifca.com. Contact Kevin Runkle at 309-827-2774 if you have questions about this exciting new program.
ARA & Asmark Institute Collaborate on New Member Services
The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and the Asmark Institute recently partnered to help support and develop some new valuable services to its members.
Professional Applicator Training
The Professional Applicator Training course, which is currently performed at more than 36 remote locations across the United States, is being made available to ARA member retailers. ARA will help to schedule courses in locations where their members need training and support advocacy on issues such as drift reduction technology and new chemistry.
Custom Application Vehicle (CAV) Training
A Custom Application Vehicle (CAV) DVD-based training program is currently being developed and expected to be made available in 2014. This training program will be geared to the safe operation of CAVs on the highway to and from the field. Special emphasis will be placed on the importance of preventative maintenance, as well as safety related to preventing injuries and fatalities from booms and augers coming into contact with electrical lines. Additionally, the video will include information on safely entering/maneuvering into and out of fields and crossing bridges and railroad tracks. ARA is helping to make this training possible and will offer the training program to its members as a new service when complete.
PPE Hazard Assessment
A web-based PPE Hazard Assessment tool is currently being developed and expected to be made available in 2013. OSHA regulations require personal protection equipment (PPE) to ensure employees are adequately protected while on the job. Employers are responsible for assessing the workplace and deciding what PPE is needed. The PPE Hazard Assessment tool will help define, organize and document PPE required by individual employee, task or category. Asmark Institute currently provides this feature to retainer clients, and ARA will be offering the use of the web-based tool to its members in the future. ARA will work with federal OSHA to advocate support of the use of this tool for agricultural businesses and farms.
Employee Background Check Services
One of the greatest challenges retailers face today is hiring, training and properly qualifying employees. Performing a full range of background checks on all new hires is rapidly becoming an essential part of the employment process. Industry research has indicated a serious void in availability of easy, efficient and cost-effective methods for a small to medium size business to perform background checks on prospective employees. ARA is working with the Asmark Institute to develop a web-based tool to make a screening process/program available to its members in late 2013.
Ammonium Nitrate: Heads-Up!
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) recently received communication from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD), regarding the testing of ammonium nitrate mixtures in view of the proposed regulations to regulate mixtures containing 30 percent or more ammonium nitrate by weight. DHS informed TFI the testing will be done at Sandia Laboratories in New Mexico. The testing will be conducted over a period of several months and DHS anticipates selecting a week during which TFI members can be on hand to witness live testing or video of some the testing completed.
"So God Made a Farmer" Super Bowl Ad - Big Hit!
More than 250 national, regional and state groups representing just about every aspect of U.S. food production, including farming, recently sent a letter to Sergio Marchionne, chair and CEO of the Chrysler Group LLC, thanking him for a Ram trucks Super Bowl commercial entitled "So God Made a Farmer." The two-minute commercial features the legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey reading his original essay on the importance of farmers and ranchers to America's quality of life as iconic farming and ranching images are shown. The ad also benefits the National FFA Foundation. Every view, download or share at http://www.ramtrucks.com/en/keepplowing/, generated Ram trucks financial support for the FFA Foundation's "Feeding the World - Starting at Home" program. Within one week, the ad had earned the FFA Foundation 1 million dollars - the goal. As of February 7th, the spot, rated the third most popular Super Bowl commercial by USA Today's "Ad Meter," had been viewed by 6 million viewers. We have archived this commercial on our website for future use.
OSHA Signs Alliance with Montana Grain Elevators Association
U.S. OSHA and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry have signed an alliance with the Montana Grain Elevators Association (MGEA). The alliance, signed during the Montana Agricultural Business Association and MGEA joint annual convention in Great Falls, will focus on identifying, reducing and preventing workers' exposure to hazards in the grain handling industries throughout Montana. "This alliance clearly shows the commitment to address cooperatively the unique safety and health hazards associated with grain handling operations," said Jeff Funke, Director of OSHA's Billings Area Office. "By working together, we will continue to improve the safety and health of Montana's workers."
"The Montana Grain Elevator Association and its members are committed to the safety of our employees and have worked diligently to provide safe work environments," said MGEA President Tim Mattick. "We look forward to working with OSHA to provide a means of communication on opportunities to improve safety at our facilities." We are proud to be affiliated with the Montana Agricultural Business Association and congratulate Krista Lee Evans, Executive Director of MABA and MGEA on their new alliance.
Are You Getting Our Newsletter?
Because our newsletters are sent electronically through a mass e-mail system, you may need to do the following to ensure that they aren't inadvertently red-flagged as spam:
  • Add editor@asmark.org to your address book to help ensure delivery from this address.
  • If you have a spam filter on your computer or on your computer network, you may need to add the e-mail address editor@asmark.org and the IP Address of 38.96.10.157 to your list of trusted senders (this list may also be referred to as a White List or Unfiltered List).
  • If you find that your Internet Service Provider is blocking our communications, you should notify it to not block anything from the Asmark Institute, including from a mass e-mail delivery that comes from the address of editor@asmark.org. Also, let your ISP know not to block any e-mail from the IP Address 38.96.10.157.
NTSB Wants More Detailed Previous Employer Information
In a letter to DOT, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) offered four recommendations to DOT as the result of a NTSB crash investigation from June 2011. According to the letter, NTSB summarized its finding of an accident occurring in Miriam, Nevada, at a highway-railroad grade crossing involving a tractor-trailer striking an Amtrak passenger train resulting in the death of the truck driver, train conductor and four passengers. As a result of this investigation, NTSB issued a total of 19 new recommendations to multiple U.S. DOT agencies, trade associations and the trucking company, including the following four recommendations specifically to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:
  • Create a mechanism to gather and record commercial driving-related employment history information about all drivers who have a commercial driver's license, and make this information available to all prospective motor carrier employers.
  • Using the mechanism developed in the safety recommendation above, require motor carriers to conduct and document investigations into the employment records of prospective drivers for the 10 years that precede the application date.
  • Require motor carriers to retrieve records from the Commercial Driver's License Information System (CDLIS) and the National Driver Register (NDR) for all driver applicants so that they can obtain a complete driving and license history of prospective drivers.
  • Inform commercial vehicle inspectors of (1) the importance of taking pushrod stroke measurements within the specified pressure range, (2) the relationship between pushrod stroke and specific air pressure, and (3) the consequence of taking measurements outside of this range.
NTSB is asking FMCSA to respond to the suggestions within 90 days, detailing actions it has taken or intends to take regarding these recommendations. Note: This will have an impact on the driver qualification process and maintenance aspects of DOT compliance.
Study Reveals "Top 10" Causes of Workplace Injuries
The Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety has released its 2012 Workplace Safety Index identifying the leading causes of the most disabling U.S. workplace injuries in 2010, which amounted to $51.1 billion in direct US workers compensation costs. The "most disabling work-related injuries and illnesses" are those causing an employee to miss six or more days from work. As in previous years, overexertion tops the list. This includes injuries related to excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying and throwing. This category of injury alone accounted for $13.61 billion in direct costs in 2010. The ten leading causes of the most disabling workplace injuries in 2010 (in billions) according to Liberty Mutual are:
  • Overexertion
    $13.6 billion
  • Fall on same level
    $8.61 billion
  • Bodily reaction*
    $5.78 billion
  • Fall to lower level
    $5.12 billion
  • Struck by object
    $4.10 billion
  • Struck against object
    $2.11 billion
  • Repetitive motion
    $2.02 billion
  • Highway incident
    $1.99 billion
  • Caught in/compressed by
    $1.79 billion
  • Assaults/violent act
    $0.64 billion
*Injuries from bending, climbing, reaching, standing, sitting, slipping or tripping without falling. Click here to access the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety report.
CSA Under Review by OIG
U.S. DOT's Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a Memorandum stating its intent to audit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA's) implementation of its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. According to the memo from Joseph W. Comé, Assistant Inspector General for Highway and Transit Audits to FMCSA, members of Congress and the trucking industry have expressed concerns about CSA implementation, particularly the Safety Measurement System (SMS) evaluation of carrier performance and risk. Specifically, the audit will assess whether FMCSA has established adequate controls to ensure the quality of the data used to evaluate carrier performance and risk, and effectively implemented CSA enforcement interventions.
Expect DOT Inspections for "Failure to Pay UCR Fees"
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has added a violation code into 49 CFR to indicate that a carrier is not in compliance with the Unified Carrier Registration Agreement (UCR). It is: §392.2UCR - "Failure to pay UCR fees." The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) issued an inspection bulletin dated January 1, 2013, clarifying enforcement activities in respect to compliance with UCR for the 2013 registration year. Enforcement began February 1st. According to the CVSA bulletin, enforcement staff should first obtain evidence of interstate/international operations occurring during that particular registration year. Proof may include but not be limited to log entries; toll receipts; shipping papers; bills of lading; previous years apportioned receipt or prior years roadside inspection reports of interstate/international operations. Enforcement personnel were given, as an attachment to the bulletin, a listing of the forty-one participating states with phone numbers to verify compliance with UCR. To verify compliance, roadside enforcement personnel should call during normal business hours and provide the USDOT number with the carrier's name.
Koch Nitrogen Company to Pay $380,000 for RMP Violations
Koch Nitrogen Company LLC has agreed to pay a $380,000 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at facilities in Iowa and Kansas. Inspections of three of Koch's facilities in 2007 and 2009 revealed violations of the risk management program required by the Clean Air Act. The inspected facilities manufacture ammonia and urea-ammonium nitrate solution. Inspectors found that the facilities had issues with the management system, had not fully implemented the prevention program requirements, had not adequately coordinated with local first responders and failed to include all required information in the risk management plan. "This penalty sends a strong message to Koch and other companies that EPA expects adherence to all aspects of the Clean Air Act," said EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks. As a result of this settlement, Koch Nitrogen has certified that it is in full compliance with Clean Air Act.
MTSA Regulated Facilities
On February 1st, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a Request for Comment on a provision contained in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, which mandated that Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) facilities make a current copy of the facility vulnerability assessment (FVA) available to the port authority with jurisdiction of the facility and to state or local law enforcement agencies. Additionally, the act requires facilities to integrate to the maximum extent practical the facility's security systems with compatible systems operated and maintained by state law enforcement agencies and the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is seeking comments to gain a better understanding of real-world practices. In the Federal Register Notice, the Coast Guard describes a number of ideas to implement the provisions in the act and has outlined six areas in which they are seeking comments. Click here to review the Notice.
Farmers, Ranchers "Alarmed" at EPA Release of Personal Data to Activist Groups
The release to national activist groups earlier this month by EPA of personal and business information on U.S. farmers and ranchers has producer groups "alarmed and troubled." At issue is the collection by EPA of agency and state data on confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to satisfy a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Earth Justice and the Pew Charitable Trust. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said the agency gathered the information even though it was forced a year ago, as part of an industry lawsuit negotiation, to drop a proposed reporting rule on CAFOs because of concerns about privacy and biosecurity on farms. And while EPA said at the time it dropped the proposed reporting rule that it would continue to collect CAFO data to assist in CAFO permitting and overall program operation, in early February EPA released raw data from farms and ranches in 30 states - some of the information gathered from state water agencies not told why EPA wanted the data - that included for some the producers' home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, as well as information on farm/ranch employees. J.D. Alexander, National Cattlemen's Beef Association president and a Nebraska cattleman, said, "We were alarmed at the detail of the information provided on hard-working family farmers and ranchers, family operations, including my own. It is beyond comprehension to me that with threats to my family from harassment atop biosecurity concerns, that EPA would gather this information only to release to these groups. This information details my family's home address and geographic coordinates; the only thing it doesn't do is chauffeur these extremists to my house." Alexander said telephone numbers and deceased relatives were listed in the data given to the activist groups. R.C. Hunt, NPCC president and a North Carolina hog producer, said, "What's ironic is that, in the name of transparency, EPA released information in secret and violated the privacy rights of farmers across the country."
Agricultural Hours of Service Exemption Update
Several state enforcement officials' position is that the new rules for the agricultural hours of service exemption cannot be implemented until DOT issues an official Federal Register notice. The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), along with the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) and the Agricultural Transporters Conference, contacted the office of Representatives Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo) and Sam Graves (R-Mo) who have been leaders on this issue for several years. As a result, a letter signed by 27 members of Congress was sent to DOT requesting that immediate action be taken to issue the final regulations. Upon receipt of the letter, DOT officials contacted congressional staff and indicated they are working very hard to issue the final regulations.
Roberts, Johanns Introduce Pesticide Permit Fix - Again
Legislation to overturn duplicative EPA pesticide permit registrations was recently introduced by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) after similar legislation failed to see action in the last Congress. The Roberts-Johanns bill amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to change Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting so that new CWA registrations for use near water are not necessary if the product is already registered with EPA. The House approved a similar bill in the last Congress and the Senate Agriculture Committee also approved Roberts-Johann legislation, but the full Senate did not take action due to opposition from Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works.
Harkin, Chambliss Announce Retirements
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) recently announced they will not seek reelection in 2014. Their departure will signal the loss of two of agriculture's most ardent supporters. Harkin's explanation for retiring was that "it's time," while Chambliss made it clear his frustration with Senate gridlock and partisan infighting was the major reason he's decided not to run again. Chambliss sits as ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Latest Labor Law Revision: Minor Effect on Ag
The Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a final rule implementing new regulations regarding Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protections. The regulations were revised based on requirements under the National Defense Authorization Act and the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act. The new rules require that employers covered under FMLA post the new information if they have any employees subject to the new rules. They take effect March 8, 2013.
  • The first expansion provides families of eligible veterans with the same job-protected FMLA leave currently available to families of military service members and it also enables more military families to take leave for activities that arise when a service member is deployed.
  • The second expansion modifies existing rules so that airline personnel and flight crews are better able to make use of the FMLA's protections.
2013 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.
Environmental Respect Awards: Two Weeks Left to Enter
An Environmental Respect Award is not a one-time honor. It is about carrying the flag, being advocates for agriculture and pledging a lifetime commitment. March 16th is the deadline to pledge your commitment. Click here to enter. For more information, or if you have questions on how to enter, e-mail respect@meistermedia.com or call 440-942-2000.
Performance Evaluation Results......Update
With only a couple of surveys coming back weekly, response so far has exceeded an impressive 63%, with 95.92% of the total respondents indicating they are "satisfied" with our overall performance. More than 56% of the respondents identified themselves or their facility. Our staff has made more than 100 follow-up calls based on the comments we received. Click here to see the final copy of the tabulated results for the past five Performance Evaluations. Thank you to everyone that took the time to fill out the evaluation and return it!
Don't Forget the March 1st Deadline
As a reminder worth mentioning, SARA Tier II submissions were due on March 1st. These are annual requirements that most retailers are familiar with; however, the penalties have become quite severe for non-compliance. Please ensure your facility has submitted the 2012 SARA Tier II reports. Please contact Donna (Ext 205) or Jessica (Ext 229) if you have questions.
Pesticide-Production Report Update
Reminder: Asmark Institute submits and documents receipt of the Pesticide Production Report by U.S. EPA for each of our clients. All clients' reports were shipped just prior to the March 1st deadline and have been received by U.S. EPA. Work will begin soon to make file copies of the reports along with the documentation where U.S. EPA signed for the reports. Each facility will receive their file copies around March 20th.
2013 Regulatory Posters Coming Soon!
The 2013 regulatory posters will ship later this month. The posters are normally updated and shipped around the middle of February, but were delayed this year due to shipping description sequence changes from manufacturers. The set of three includes posters with information on DOT shipping descriptions, Worker Protection Standards and Restricted-Use Products. As a reminder, please be sure to replace all outdated 2012 posters with the updated 2013 posters when you receive them. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Amber Duke at amber@asmark.org or 270-926-4600, Extension 213.
New Hazardous Materials Shipping Description Sequence
In 2007, DOT changed the hazmat shipping paper description sequence requirement to be aligned with the rest of the world. To ease the transition, DOT allowed shippers to use the old sequence until January 1, 2013, when compliance became mandatory. The new shipping description sequence on all hazardous materials per 49 CFR 172.202 is Identification Number (UN or NA), Proper Shipping Name, Hazard Class and Packing Group, as shown in this example.
New Sequence: UN1993, Flammable Liquids, N.O.S., (Contains Methanol), 3, PG III
During the transition period since 2007 most manufacturers slowly updated Safety Data Sheets to include the new shipping description sequence in the transport information section. However, there are still a few manufacturers that have not yet made the change. We have waited this year to print the regulatory posters, which include DOT shipping descriptions, to ensure that all shipping descriptions are presented in the new sequence. Click here for DOT's Guide for Preparing Shipping Papers using the new sequence.
Reminder: 300A Should be Posted
OSHA requires your previous year's Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300A) to be displayed from February 1st to April 30th of each year in a conspicuous place where employee notices are customarily posted. See any one of our last two newsletters for more information.
Postal Service to Stop Saturday Mail Delivery
Starting in August, the Postal Service will no longer deliver regular mail to street addresses on Saturdays. Mail will be delivered Monday through Friday. Packages will still be delivered on Saturdays, mail will still be delivered to PO Boxes on Saturdays, and Post Office locations currently open on Saturdays will remain open. Discontinuing Saturday delivery is expected to save the Postal Service $2 billion annually. Tip: Check out our Electronic Service Program (ESP) and bypass the frustration of snail mail.
Online Anhydrous Ammonia Safety Awareness Program Now Available
The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) in cooperation with Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Corn Growers Association and Illinois Department of Agriculture, have developed a new online anhydrous ammonia safety awareness program for farmers. Kevin Runkle, IFCA Regulatory Affairs Manager, coordinated the development of this new program. Funded by a grant from the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council (NREC), the online program consists of five training modules covering Properties and Characteristics of Anhydrous Ammonia, Proper Personal Protective Equipment, Transportation To/From the Field, Safe Hook-Up in the Field and Emergency/First Aid Procedures. There is no cost to use the safety awareness program, which is specifically designed for use for on-farm employees and family members who work around, transport, or apply anhydrous ammonia. Over the last two years there have been an increased number of anhydrous ammonia releases and hospitalization due to inhalation or skin exposure. The safety awareness program can be accessed 24/7 by going to ifca.com and clicking on the link at the top of the IFCA homepage. The training module can also be accessed at learning.ifca.com. Contact Kevin Runkle at 309-827-2774 if you have questions about this exciting new program.
ARA & Asmark Institute Collaborate on New Member Services
The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and the Asmark Institute recently partnered to help support and develop some new valuable services to its members.
Professional Applicator Training
The Professional Applicator Training course, which is currently performed at more than 36 remote locations across the United States, is being made available to ARA member retailers. ARA will help to schedule courses in locations where their members need training and support advocacy on issues such as drift reduction technology and new chemistry.
Custom Application Vehicle (CAV) Training
A Custom Application Vehicle (CAV) DVD-based training program is currently being developed and expected to be made available in 2014. This training program will be geared to the safe operation of CAVs on the highway to and from the field. Special emphasis will be placed on the importance of preventative maintenance, as well as safety related to preventing injuries and fatalities from booms and augers coming into contact with electrical lines. Additionally, the video will include information on safely entering/maneuvering into and out of fields and crossing bridges and railroad tracks. ARA is helping to make this training possible and will offer the training program to its members as a new service when complete.
PPE Hazard Assessment
A web-based PPE Hazard Assessment tool is currently being developed and expected to be made available in 2013. OSHA regulations require personal protection equipment (PPE) to ensure employees are adequately protected while on the job. Employers are responsible for assessing the workplace and deciding what PPE is needed. The PPE Hazard Assessment tool will help define, organize and document PPE required by individual employee, task or category. Asmark Institute currently provides this feature to retainer clients, and ARA will be offering the use of the web-based tool to its members in the future. ARA will work with federal OSHA to advocate support of the use of this tool for agricultural businesses and farms.
Employee Background Check Services
One of the greatest challenges retailers face today is hiring, training and properly qualifying employees. Performing a full range of background checks on all new hires is rapidly becoming an essential part of the employment process. Industry research has indicated a serious void in availability of easy, efficient and cost-effective methods for a small to medium size business to perform background checks on prospective employees. ARA is working with the Asmark Institute to develop a web-based tool to make a screening process/program available to its members in late 2013.
Ammonium Nitrate: Heads-Up!
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) recently received communication from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD), regarding the testing of ammonium nitrate mixtures in view of the proposed regulations to regulate mixtures containing 30 percent or more ammonium nitrate by weight. DHS informed TFI the testing will be done at Sandia Laboratories in New Mexico. The testing will be conducted over a period of several months and DHS anticipates selecting a week during which TFI members can be on hand to witness live testing or video of some the testing completed.
"So God Made a Farmer" Super Bowl Ad - Big Hit!
More than 250 national, regional and state groups representing just about every aspect of U.S. food production, including farming, recently sent a letter to Sergio Marchionne, chair and CEO of the Chrysler Group LLC, thanking him for a Ram trucks Super Bowl commercial entitled "So God Made a Farmer." The two-minute commercial features the legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey reading his original essay on the importance of farmers and ranchers to America's quality of life as iconic farming and ranching images are shown. The ad also benefits the National FFA Foundation. Every view, download or share at http://www.ramtrucks.com/en/keepplowing/, generated Ram trucks financial support for the FFA Foundation's "Feeding the World - Starting at Home" program. Within one week, the ad had earned the FFA Foundation 1 million dollars - the goal. As of February 7th, the spot, rated the third most popular Super Bowl commercial by USA Today's "Ad Meter," had been viewed by 6 million viewers. We have archived this commercial on our website for future use.
OSHA Signs Alliance with Montana Grain Elevators Association
U.S. OSHA and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry have signed an alliance with the Montana Grain Elevators Association (MGEA). The alliance, signed during the Montana Agricultural Business Association and MGEA joint annual convention in Great Falls, will focus on identifying, reducing and preventing workers' exposure to hazards in the grain handling industries throughout Montana. "This alliance clearly shows the commitment to address cooperatively the unique safety and health hazards associated with grain handling operations," said Jeff Funke, Director of OSHA's Billings Area Office. "By working together, we will continue to improve the safety and health of Montana's workers."
"The Montana Grain Elevator Association and its members are committed to the safety of our employees and have worked diligently to provide safe work environments," said MGEA President Tim Mattick. "We look forward to working with OSHA to provide a means of communication on opportunities to improve safety at our facilities." We are proud to be affiliated with the Montana Agricultural Business Association and congratulate Krista Lee Evans, Executive Director of MABA and MGEA on their new alliance.
Are You Getting Our Newsletter?
Because our newsletters are sent electronically through a mass e-mail system, you may need to do the following to ensure that they aren't inadvertently red-flagged as spam:
  • Add editor@asmark.org to your address book to help ensure delivery from this address.
  • If you have a spam filter on your computer or on your computer network, you may need to add the e-mail address editor@asmark.org and the IP Address of 38.96.10.157 to your list of trusted senders (this list may also be referred to as a White List or Unfiltered List).
  • If you find that your Internet Service Provider is blocking our communications, you should notify it to not block anything from the Asmark Institute, including from a mass e-mail delivery that comes from the address of editor@asmark.org. Also, let your ISP know not to block any e-mail from the IP Address 38.96.10.157.
NTSB Wants More Detailed Previous Employer Information
In a letter to DOT, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) offered four recommendations to DOT as the result of a NTSB crash investigation from June 2011. According to the letter, NTSB summarized its finding of an accident occurring in Miriam, Nevada, at a highway-railroad grade crossing involving a tractor-trailer striking an Amtrak passenger train resulting in the death of the truck driver, train conductor and four passengers. As a result of this investigation, NTSB issued a total of 19 new recommendations to multiple U.S. DOT agencies, trade associations and the trucking company, including the following four recommendations specifically to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:
  • Create a mechanism to gather and record commercial driving-related employment history information about all drivers who have a commercial driver's license, and make this information available to all prospective motor carrier employers.
  • Using the mechanism developed in the safety recommendation above, require motor carriers to conduct and document investigations into the employment records of prospective drivers for the 10 years that precede the application date.
  • Require motor carriers to retrieve records from the Commercial Driver's License Information System (CDLIS) and the National Driver Register (NDR) for all driver applicants so that they can obtain a complete driving and license history of prospective drivers.
  • Inform commercial vehicle inspectors of (1) the importance of taking pushrod stroke measurements within the specified pressure range, (2) the relationship between pushrod stroke and specific air pressure, and (3) the consequence of taking measurements outside of this range.
NTSB is asking FMCSA to respond to the suggestions within 90 days, detailing actions it has taken or intends to take regarding these recommendations. Note: This will have an impact on the driver qualification process and maintenance aspects of DOT compliance.
Study Reveals "Top 10" Causes of Workplace Injuries
The Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety has released its 2012 Workplace Safety Index identifying the leading causes of the most disabling U.S. workplace injuries in 2010, which amounted to $51.1 billion in direct US workers compensation costs. The "most disabling work-related injuries and illnesses" are those causing an employee to miss six or more days from work. As in previous years, overexertion tops the list. This includes injuries related to excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying and throwing. This category of injury alone accounted for $13.61 billion in direct costs in 2010. The ten leading causes of the most disabling workplace injuries in 2010 (in billions) according to Liberty Mutual are:
  • Overexertion
    $13.6 billion
  • Fall on same level
    $8.61 billion
  • Bodily reaction*
    $5.78 billion
  • Fall to lower level
    $5.12 billion
  • Struck by object
    $4.10 billion
  • Struck against object
    $2.11 billion
  • Repetitive motion
    $2.02 billion
  • Highway incident
    $1.99 billion
  • Caught in/compressed by
    $1.79 billion
  • Assaults/violent act
    $0.64 billion
*Injuries from bending, climbing, reaching, standing, sitting, slipping or tripping without falling. Click here to access the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety report.
CSA Under Review by OIG
U.S. DOT's Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a Memorandum stating its intent to audit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA's) implementation of its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. According to the memo from Joseph W. Comé, Assistant Inspector General for Highway and Transit Audits to FMCSA, members of Congress and the trucking industry have expressed concerns about CSA implementation, particularly the Safety Measurement System (SMS) evaluation of carrier performance and risk. Specifically, the audit will assess whether FMCSA has established adequate controls to ensure the quality of the data used to evaluate carrier performance and risk, and effectively implemented CSA enforcement interventions.
Expect DOT Inspections for "Failure to Pay UCR Fees"
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has added a violation code into 49 CFR to indicate that a carrier is not in compliance with the Unified Carrier Registration Agreement (UCR). It is: §392.2UCR - "Failure to pay UCR fees." The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) issued an inspection bulletin dated January 1, 2013, clarifying enforcement activities in respect to compliance with UCR for the 2013 registration year. Enforcement began February 1st. According to the CVSA bulletin, enforcement staff should first obtain evidence of interstate/international operations occurring during that particular registration year. Proof may include but not be limited to log entries; toll receipts; shipping papers; bills of lading; previous years apportioned receipt or prior years roadside inspection reports of interstate/international operations. Enforcement personnel were given, as an attachment to the bulletin, a listing of the forty-one participating states with phone numbers to verify compliance with UCR. To verify compliance, roadside enforcement personnel should call during normal business hours and provide the USDOT number with the carrier's name.
Koch Nitrogen Company to Pay $380,000 for RMP Violations
Koch Nitrogen Company LLC has agreed to pay a $380,000 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at facilities in Iowa and Kansas. Inspections of three of Koch's facilities in 2007 and 2009 revealed violations of the risk management program required by the Clean Air Act. The inspected facilities manufacture ammonia and urea-ammonium nitrate solution. Inspectors found that the facilities had issues with the management system, had not fully implemented the prevention program requirements, had not adequately coordinated with local first responders and failed to include all required information in the risk management plan. "This penalty sends a strong message to Koch and other companies that EPA expects adherence to all aspects of the Clean Air Act," said EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks. As a result of this settlement, Koch Nitrogen has certified that it is in full compliance with Clean Air Act.
MTSA Regulated Facilities
On February 1st, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a Request for Comment on a provision contained in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, which mandated that Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) facilities make a current copy of the facility vulnerability assessment (FVA) available to the port authority with jurisdiction of the facility and to state or local law enforcement agencies. Additionally, the act requires facilities to integrate to the maximum extent practical the facility's security systems with compatible systems operated and maintained by state law enforcement agencies and the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is seeking comments to gain a better understanding of real-world practices. In the Federal Register Notice, the Coast Guard describes a number of ideas to implement the provisions in the act and has outlined six areas in which they are seeking comments. Click here to review the Notice.
Farmers, Ranchers "Alarmed" at EPA Release of Personal Data to Activist Groups
The release to national activist groups earlier this month by EPA of personal and business information on U.S. farmers and ranchers has producer groups "alarmed and troubled." At issue is the collection by EPA of agency and state data on confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to satisfy a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Earth Justice and the Pew Charitable Trust. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said the agency gathered the information even though it was forced a year ago, as part of an industry lawsuit negotiation, to drop a proposed reporting rule on CAFOs because of concerns about privacy and biosecurity on farms. And while EPA said at the time it dropped the proposed reporting rule that it would continue to collect CAFO data to assist in CAFO permitting and overall program operation, in early February EPA released raw data from farms and ranches in 30 states - some of the information gathered from state water agencies not told why EPA wanted the data - that included for some the producers' home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, as well as information on farm/ranch employees. J.D. Alexander, National Cattlemen's Beef Association president and a Nebraska cattleman, said, "We were alarmed at the detail of the information provided on hard-working family farmers and ranchers, family operations, including my own. It is beyond comprehension to me that with threats to my family from harassment atop biosecurity concerns, that EPA would gather this information only to release to these groups. This information details my family's home address and geographic coordinates; the only thing it doesn't do is chauffeur these extremists to my house." Alexander said telephone numbers and deceased relatives were listed in the data given to the activist groups. R.C. Hunt, NPCC president and a North Carolina hog producer, said, "What's ironic is that, in the name of transparency, EPA released information in secret and violated the privacy rights of farmers across the country."
Agricultural Hours of Service Exemption Update
Several state enforcement officials' position is that the new rules for the agricultural hours of service exemption cannot be implemented until DOT issues an official Federal Register notice. The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), along with the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) and the Agricultural Transporters Conference, contacted the office of Representatives Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo) and Sam Graves (R-Mo) who have been leaders on this issue for several years. As a result, a letter signed by 27 members of Congress was sent to DOT requesting that immediate action be taken to issue the final regulations. Upon receipt of the letter, DOT officials contacted congressional staff and indicated they are working very hard to issue the final regulations.
Roberts, Johanns Introduce Pesticide Permit Fix - Again
Legislation to overturn duplicative EPA pesticide permit registrations was recently introduced by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) after similar legislation failed to see action in the last Congress. The Roberts-Johanns bill amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to change Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting so that new CWA registrations for use near water are not necessary if the product is already registered with EPA. The House approved a similar bill in the last Congress and the Senate Agriculture Committee also approved Roberts-Johann legislation, but the full Senate did not take action due to opposition from Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works.
Harkin, Chambliss Announce Retirements
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) recently announced they will not seek reelection in 2014. Their departure will signal the loss of two of agriculture's most ardent supporters. Harkin's explanation for retiring was that "it's time," while Chambliss made it clear his frustration with Senate gridlock and partisan infighting was the major reason he's decided not to run again. Chambliss sits as ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Latest Labor Law Revision: Minor Effect on Ag
The Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a final rule implementing new regulations regarding Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protections. The regulations were revised based on requirements under the National Defense Authorization Act and the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act. The new rules require that employers covered under FMLA post the new information if they have any employees subject to the new rules. They take effect March 8, 2013.
  • The first expansion provides families of eligible veterans with the same job-protected FMLA leave currently available to families of military service members and it also enables more military families to take leave for activities that arise when a service member is deployed.
  • The second expansion modifies existing rules so that airline personnel and flight crews are better able to make use of the FMLA's protections.
2013 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.