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Newsletter
Volume 121
December 3, 2013
Seasons Greetings!
As we enter into the holiday season, all of us at the Asmark Institute would like to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year. We appreciate the relationship that has been developed between our organizations over the years, and especially the opportunity to have worked with you in 2013!
New DVD Number 2 Ships
Watch for UPS to deliver your new DVD Number 2 in the next few days. Please be prepared to open your package as soon as you receive it and follow the instructions to complete the exchange. DVD Number 2 contains an all new Hazardous Materials, Anhydrous Ammonia Safety, Worker Protection Standard and Grain Safety Orientation. Our thanks to Dustin Warder, Brian Mason and Nick Clements for their work on this project. The Grain Safety Orientation training program was made possible by a partnership with Jeff Adkisson and John Lee of the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois. The Spanish version of DVD Number 2 will be available in early 2014.
Note: This year we are also upgrading the case, covers and other materials, so essentially you are getting a new set of DVDs. We have found a new style of outer case that will better protect the DVDs. The covers have been revised to help facilitate the addition of some new subjects. Sherri Brant, Patricia Howard and Carol Higdon made this upgrade possible this year. Remember to return your outdated set of DVDs using the provided UPS Return Service packaging so it can be tracked.
Asmark Institute Recognized for Progressive Agriculture Foundation Work
The Progressive Agriculture Foundation (PAF) recently celebrated major milestones at its recent annual meeting in Louisville, KY. "We anticipate offering crucial safety and health instruction for more than 100,000 participants at Progressive Agriculture Safety Day programs in 2013," says Randy Bernhardt, PAF Chief Administrative Officer. PAF has reached more than 1.2 million children with farm Safety Day programs since their inception in 1995. The Asmark Institute was recognized for providing all of PAF's website redesign work as an in-kind donation, including the database behind the scenes used to administer the day to day operations. Nick Lawrence was recognized for his efforts in handling this project. PAF is the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America and a program of the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation. PAF's mission is to provide education and training to make farm, ranch and rural life safer and healthier for children and their communities. Click here to see their new website for yourself.
Outreach on Hazardous Chemicals - KS, NE & MO
OSHA is launching a local emphasis program in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri for programmed health inspections of industries known to use hazardous chemicals and who have reported release of such chemicals to EPA. Chemicals reported to the EPA that have been released into the environment include ammonia; barium, chromium and copper compounds; hydrochloric acid; hydrogen fluoride; lead and manganese compounds; N-hexane; styrene; sulfuric acid; and nitrate, vanadium and zinc compounds.
Note: If you have reported a spill of anhydrous ammonia in the past, and are located in these states, you should expect a visit on this topic.
EPA Region 5 Conducting SARA Tier 2 Inspections
EPA Region 5, which covers Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, has started conducting SARA Tier 2 inspections at retail facilities. Inspections last from four to eight hours with the inspectors asking to review the following items:
  • Current facility site plan
  • Location of any hazardous materials
  • Copies of SARA Tier 2 Reports for the past three years
  • Invoices, inventory records or other documents such as a list of chemicals and maximum quantities stored at any one given time for the past four years
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all hazardous chemicals used/stored at your facility
Inspectors will interview employees and take pictures of the facility. Facilities should be on the lookout for a call or letter from EPA announcing their plans to audit your facility. The agency has the ability to levy substantial fines based on any violations they find.
Reminder: GHS Training Deadline Upon Us
The first deadline in the implementation phase of OSHA's updated Hazard Communication Standard was December 1, 2013. By this date, employers must have trained workers on the standard's new label elements and safety data sheet. Asmark Institute's new DVD Number 1 released in December 2012 contains the new GHS information. Asmark Institute clients that have completed the Hazard Communication subject anytime in 2013 have fulfilled this requirement.
Background: OSHA's revised Hazard Communication Standard took effect on May 25, 2012 and required mandatory training for most employers across the country on the new requirements for chemical labeling and the new Safety Data Sheets by December 1, 2013. The revision aligned OSHA's rules with the internationally accepted Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
Any employer that uses hazardous chemicals in its workplace is subject to the communication and training requirements. Training issues for employers include:
  • Labels - Employers must train employees on new labeling elements including: product identifiers, OSHA signal words, pictograms and precautionary statements.
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS) - Employers must train employees on the new standardized format of SDS (formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)).
  • New format for categorizing hazards - The new system rates the severity of hazards on a 5-point scale (5 = least severe and 1 = most severe). The old Hazard Materials Identification System (HMIS) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) use the opposite (5 = most severe and 1 = least severe).
Chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors must comply with new hazard classifications and the classifications of chemical mixtures on their labels by June 1, 2015. Distributors may ship chemicals labeled by manufacturers under the old systems until December 1, 2015. During the transition period, chemical manufacturers may use either labeling system which is why employers are required to train their employees to recognize the new labels and SDS documents.
Are You Monitoring Your CSA Score?
DOT's Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) Safety Measurement System (SMS) website is available and motor carriers are highly recommended to check their safety scores: http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/sms. To login into the SMS website and see your safety data, you will need an FMCSA-issued U.S. DOT Number Personal Identification Number (PIN). If you do not know or have forgotten your PIN, you can request one via http://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/ and select "Click here to request your Docket Number PIN and/or USDOT Number PIN." Be sure to request a U.S. DOT Number PIN, NOT a Docket Number PIN.
Chemical Safety Board Outlines Next Steps from West, Texas Incident
U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso recently discussed CSB activity surrounding the West, Texas explosion and outlined potential recommendations. The chairman outlined the CSB's next steps as: (1) developing blast models of the incident; (2) analyzing collected data; (3) holding stakeholder (community of West, Texas) meetings to identify expectations; (4) participating in the Presidential Executive Order activities; (5) developing a full report; and (6) presenting findings at a final public meeting. In addition, the chairman outlined the CSB's potential recommendations:
  • Urge the State of Texas to develop enforceable fire codes for buildings in municipalities with less than 250,000 people and provide local fire departments with resources to enforce fire codes;
  • Nationwide and in Texas, to establish zoning rules with appropriate distances of inhabited spaces from potentially explosive sites in Texas and nationwide;
  • Revise EPA regulations at 40 CFR Part 68 (RMP) to include self-reactive chemicals, including ammonium nitrate;
  • Revise OSHA standards at 29 CFR 1910.109 to prohibit the use of combustible materials of construction and buildings, including impregnated wood, for ammonium nitrate storage bins;
  • Revise NFPA 400 to include siting requirements that prohibit the storage of bulk ammonium nitrate near occupied structures; and
  • Through the National Volunteer Fire Fighter Council, develop training modules and implement a programmed advisory on fire fighting.
It should be noted these are not yet final recommendations. A final report is expected to be issued by CSB in the spring of 2014.
Spotlight: Regulators Doing the Best They Know How...
Headlines prominently read, "Now you can search website for Texas chemical stockpiles." The article goes on to announce the "State Fire Marshal's Office has launched a website to let Texans search for facilities near them that store large amounts of ammonium nitrate, the chemical that ignited in an April fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people in West." To read the article click here. Click here to access the database.
ResponsibleAg - Get a Head Start!
In the months ahead you will be hearing more about this initiative. The regulated community is already overwhelmed with regulations. In the wake of the West Fertilizer tragedy, the regulatory agencies - both State and Federal have come under fire to prevent a tragedy such as West from ever occurring again. Agencies and legislators alike are calling for even more regulation. Responsible Ag will help ensure our industry is aware of and complies with the regulations that are already in place. Responsible Ag is already working to prevent additional unnecessary regulations.
How do I get a head start in preparing for the ResponsibleAg third-party audit? If you haven't already, complete the Comprehensive Risk Evaluation (CoRE) for your facility as soon as possible. Since the ResponsibleAg audit will check for compliance at each facility based on a comprehensive list of regulatory requirements - completing CoRE will allow you to self-audit your facility in preparation for the day when the ResponsibleAg auditor will show up. Click here to get started, or to check your score if you have already started the CoRE process.
FMCSA to Enforce MCS-150 Requirement
Motor carriers and other entities that are required to have a U.S. DOT number are also required to file a Form MCS-150 with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at least every two years to update their identifying, contact and operational information. This has been the law for a long time, but FMCSA has never strictly enforced it. However, the agency now plans to do so, under a regulation that was part of its recently issued Unified Registration System (URS) rule. Starting in December, FMCSA will send a letter to carriers that are due to update their information in January 2014 reminding them to do so. In February, the FMCSA will check its system to see if those carriers complied. If a carrier did not, its DOT number will be deactivated on April 1st. FMCSA will adhere to a similar schedule in each succeeding month for carriers whose two-year window expires in the months following January.
New Hours of Service Air Miles in Illinois
The new changes to Part 395, Hours of Service for Drivers, were officially published on November 15th in the Illinois Register. These changes expand the air mile radius from 100 to 150 air miles for the delivery of agricultural inputs from all distribution points. The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) worked diligently with the Illinois DOT Division of Traffic Safety, Illinois State Police and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to fully restore the HOS exemption for both interstate and intrastate deliveries, as well as expand the air mile radius to 150 as allowed by federal law.
Annual Report Shows Workplace Injury and Illness Rate Continues to Decline
According to estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2012, resulting in an incidence rate of 3.4 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers. The rate reported for 2012 continues the pattern of statistically significant declines that, with the exception of 2011, occurred annually for the last decade.
OSHA Proposes Mandatory Electronic Injury, Illness Reporting
OSHA has proposed requiring employers to file their injury and illness reports electronically, a change that also would make those records publicly accessible. Public access to the information would encourage employers to maintain and improve their workplace safety records to be known as good companies for which to work and with which to do business with, OSHA said in a statement. The data also would allow employers to compare their injury/illness rates to those of other employers, OSHA said. The proposal would affect employers with more than 250 workers. "Three million injuries are three million too many," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "With the changes being proposed in this rule, employers, employees, the government and researchers will have better access to data that will encourage earlier abatement of hazards and result in improved programs to reduce workplace hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The proposal does not add any new requirement to keep records; it only modifies an employer's obligation to transmit these records to OSHA." Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted through February 6, 2014, OSHA said.
New Medical Certification Deadline Fast Approaching
The countdown is on to a January 30, 2014 deadline that all CDL holders must prove medical certification to their state driver's licensing agency. A new regulation issued by DOT requires CDL holders to present proof of medical certification to their home state drivers licensing agency. Once presented to the states, CDL holders will only have to retain the medical certificate on the road with them for 15 days. (Note: We highly recommend you continue to carry your proof of physical with you as you have in the past.) In that time, the state drivers licensing agency is suppose to enter the certification information into the commercial driver's license information system, dubbed CDLIS. The requirement is intended to give roadside law enforcement real-time electronic confirmation of medical certification. With the January 30, 2014 deadline approaching, all CDL holders must provide proof of certification and self-certify operations before that deadline - regardless if their CDL is up for renewal or not. Drivers who do not present proof of certification are at risk of having their CDL downgraded or even suspended.
OSHA Releases Directive for Occupational Noise Related Inspections
OSHA recently released a new directive to provide the technical information and guidance needed to help Compliance Safety and Health Officers evaluate noise hazards in the workplace. The directive is included as a new chapter in the OSHA Technical Manual. Although the directive became effective August 15, 2013, the new chapter became available for public viewing on November 1, 2013. According to OSHA, the content is based on currently available research publications, OSHA standards, and consensus standards. Click here to read the full text of the directive.
Oregon Rule Goes Back to the Drawing Board
In response to concerns over the impacts of the rule, Oregon OSHA announced in a news release that it is withdrawing the state-initiated confined space rule the agency adopted last year. That means employers need to comply with the pre-existing federal OSHA rules in general industry, as well as the limited construction requirements previously in place in the state. Oregon OSHA head Michael Wood said the agency will review industry concerns about the state rulemaking and its economic effects. He explained that his agency remains committed to developing a comprehensive rule addressing confined space hazards in general industry and construction.
In order to avoid problems, however, Oregon OSHA will not cite an employer who is in compliance with either the federal rule or the Oregon-initiated rule, according to the news release. Wood expects a new proposal will be adopted in about six months.
ObamaCare Website Not the Only One Experiencing a "Snafu"
It's been a bad month for the federal government and its websites. Just weeks after President Obama's Healthcare Exchange site began experiencing serious technical difficulties, the regulations.gov portal, through which stakeholders submit public comments on proposed regulations, began suffering similar tribulations. The problems, which occurred over the course of a week or so, have received significantly less attention than the issues affecting the healthcare site - unless you're a farmer, food processor or importer. With comment periods for two Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) proposed rules set to close during the snafu, some say they have had trouble suggesting vital corrections to the provisions. The site crashed on Monday, November 4th, and didn't return until the evening of Wednesday, November 6th. Since then crashes have been intermittent.
Most Quotable: "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." -- Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President
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.
Seasons Greetings!
As we enter into the holiday season, all of us at the Asmark Institute would like to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year. We appreciate the relationship that has been developed between our organizations over the years, and especially the opportunity to have worked with you in 2013!
New DVD Number 2 Ships
Watch for UPS to deliver your new DVD Number 2 in the next few days. Please be prepared to open your package as soon as you receive it and follow the instructions to complete the exchange. DVD Number 2 contains an all new Hazardous Materials, Anhydrous Ammonia Safety, Worker Protection Standard and Grain Safety Orientation. Our thanks to Dustin Warder, Brian Mason and Nick Clements for their work on this project. The Grain Safety Orientation training program was made possible by a partnership with Jeff Adkisson and John Lee of the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois. The Spanish version of DVD Number 2 will be available in early 2014.
Note: This year we are also upgrading the case, covers and other materials, so essentially you are getting a new set of DVDs. We have found a new style of outer case that will better protect the DVDs. The covers have been revised to help facilitate the addition of some new subjects. Sherri Brant, Patricia Howard and Carol Higdon made this upgrade possible this year. Remember to return your outdated set of DVDs using the provided UPS Return Service packaging so it can be tracked.
Asmark Institute Recognized for Progressive Agriculture Foundation Work
The Progressive Agriculture Foundation (PAF) recently celebrated major milestones at its recent annual meeting in Louisville, KY. "We anticipate offering crucial safety and health instruction for more than 100,000 participants at Progressive Agriculture Safety Day programs in 2013," says Randy Bernhardt, PAF Chief Administrative Officer. PAF has reached more than 1.2 million children with farm Safety Day programs since their inception in 1995. The Asmark Institute was recognized for providing all of PAF's website redesign work as an in-kind donation, including the database behind the scenes used to administer the day to day operations. Nick Lawrence was recognized for his efforts in handling this project. PAF is the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America and a program of the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation. PAF's mission is to provide education and training to make farm, ranch and rural life safer and healthier for children and their communities. Click here to see their new website for yourself.
Outreach on Hazardous Chemicals - KS, NE & MO
OSHA is launching a local emphasis program in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri for programmed health inspections of industries known to use hazardous chemicals and who have reported release of such chemicals to EPA. Chemicals reported to the EPA that have been released into the environment include ammonia; barium, chromium and copper compounds; hydrochloric acid; hydrogen fluoride; lead and manganese compounds; N-hexane; styrene; sulfuric acid; and nitrate, vanadium and zinc compounds.
Note: If you have reported a spill of anhydrous ammonia in the past, and are located in these states, you should expect a visit on this topic.
EPA Region 5 Conducting SARA Tier 2 Inspections
EPA Region 5, which covers Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, has started conducting SARA Tier 2 inspections at retail facilities. Inspections last from four to eight hours with the inspectors asking to review the following items:
  • Current facility site plan
  • Location of any hazardous materials
  • Copies of SARA Tier 2 Reports for the past three years
  • Invoices, inventory records or other documents such as a list of chemicals and maximum quantities stored at any one given time for the past four years
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all hazardous chemicals used/stored at your facility
Inspectors will interview employees and take pictures of the facility. Facilities should be on the lookout for a call or letter from EPA announcing their plans to audit your facility. The agency has the ability to levy substantial fines based on any violations they find.
Reminder: GHS Training Deadline Upon Us
The first deadline in the implementation phase of OSHA's updated Hazard Communication Standard was December 1, 2013. By this date, employers must have trained workers on the standard's new label elements and safety data sheet. Asmark Institute's new DVD Number 1 released in December 2012 contains the new GHS information. Asmark Institute clients that have completed the Hazard Communication subject anytime in 2013 have fulfilled this requirement.
Background: OSHA's revised Hazard Communication Standard took effect on May 25, 2012 and required mandatory training for most employers across the country on the new requirements for chemical labeling and the new Safety Data Sheets by December 1, 2013. The revision aligned OSHA's rules with the internationally accepted Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
Any employer that uses hazardous chemicals in its workplace is subject to the communication and training requirements. Training issues for employers include:
  • Labels - Employers must train employees on new labeling elements including: product identifiers, OSHA signal words, pictograms and precautionary statements.
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS) - Employers must train employees on the new standardized format of SDS (formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)).
  • New format for categorizing hazards - The new system rates the severity of hazards on a 5-point scale (5 = least severe and 1 = most severe). The old Hazard Materials Identification System (HMIS) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) use the opposite (5 = most severe and 1 = least severe).
Chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors must comply with new hazard classifications and the classifications of chemical mixtures on their labels by June 1, 2015. Distributors may ship chemicals labeled by manufacturers under the old systems until December 1, 2015. During the transition period, chemical manufacturers may use either labeling system which is why employers are required to train their employees to recognize the new labels and SDS documents.
Are You Monitoring Your CSA Score?
DOT's Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) Safety Measurement System (SMS) website is available and motor carriers are highly recommended to check their safety scores: http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/sms. To login into the SMS website and see your safety data, you will need an FMCSA-issued U.S. DOT Number Personal Identification Number (PIN). If you do not know or have forgotten your PIN, you can request one via http://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/ and select "Click here to request your Docket Number PIN and/or USDOT Number PIN." Be sure to request a U.S. DOT Number PIN, NOT a Docket Number PIN.
Chemical Safety Board Outlines Next Steps from West, Texas Incident
U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso recently discussed CSB activity surrounding the West, Texas explosion and outlined potential recommendations. The chairman outlined the CSB's next steps as: (1) developing blast models of the incident; (2) analyzing collected data; (3) holding stakeholder (community of West, Texas) meetings to identify expectations; (4) participating in the Presidential Executive Order activities; (5) developing a full report; and (6) presenting findings at a final public meeting. In addition, the chairman outlined the CSB's potential recommendations:
  • Urge the State of Texas to develop enforceable fire codes for buildings in municipalities with less than 250,000 people and provide local fire departments with resources to enforce fire codes;
  • Nationwide and in Texas, to establish zoning rules with appropriate distances of inhabited spaces from potentially explosive sites in Texas and nationwide;
  • Revise EPA regulations at 40 CFR Part 68 (RMP) to include self-reactive chemicals, including ammonium nitrate;
  • Revise OSHA standards at 29 CFR 1910.109 to prohibit the use of combustible materials of construction and buildings, including impregnated wood, for ammonium nitrate storage bins;
  • Revise NFPA 400 to include siting requirements that prohibit the storage of bulk ammonium nitrate near occupied structures; and
  • Through the National Volunteer Fire Fighter Council, develop training modules and implement a programmed advisory on fire fighting.
It should be noted these are not yet final recommendations. A final report is expected to be issued by CSB in the spring of 2014.
Spotlight: Regulators Doing the Best They Know How...
Headlines prominently read, "Now you can search website for Texas chemical stockpiles." The article goes on to announce the "State Fire Marshal's Office has launched a website to let Texans search for facilities near them that store large amounts of ammonium nitrate, the chemical that ignited in an April fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people in West." To read the article click here. Click here to access the database.
ResponsibleAg - Get a Head Start!
In the months ahead you will be hearing more about this initiative. The regulated community is already overwhelmed with regulations. In the wake of the West Fertilizer tragedy, the regulatory agencies - both State and Federal have come under fire to prevent a tragedy such as West from ever occurring again. Agencies and legislators alike are calling for even more regulation. Responsible Ag will help ensure our industry is aware of and complies with the regulations that are already in place. Responsible Ag is already working to prevent additional unnecessary regulations.
How do I get a head start in preparing for the ResponsibleAg third-party audit? If you haven't already, complete the Comprehensive Risk Evaluation (CoRE) for your facility as soon as possible. Since the ResponsibleAg audit will check for compliance at each facility based on a comprehensive list of regulatory requirements - completing CoRE will allow you to self-audit your facility in preparation for the day when the ResponsibleAg auditor will show up. Click here to get started, or to check your score if you have already started the CoRE process.
FMCSA to Enforce MCS-150 Requirement
Motor carriers and other entities that are required to have a U.S. DOT number are also required to file a Form MCS-150 with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at least every two years to update their identifying, contact and operational information. This has been the law for a long time, but FMCSA has never strictly enforced it. However, the agency now plans to do so, under a regulation that was part of its recently issued Unified Registration System (URS) rule. Starting in December, FMCSA will send a letter to carriers that are due to update their information in January 2014 reminding them to do so. In February, the FMCSA will check its system to see if those carriers complied. If a carrier did not, its DOT number will be deactivated on April 1st. FMCSA will adhere to a similar schedule in each succeeding month for carriers whose two-year window expires in the months following January.
New Hours of Service Air Miles in Illinois
The new changes to Part 395, Hours of Service for Drivers, were officially published on November 15th in the Illinois Register. These changes expand the air mile radius from 100 to 150 air miles for the delivery of agricultural inputs from all distribution points. The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) worked diligently with the Illinois DOT Division of Traffic Safety, Illinois State Police and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to fully restore the HOS exemption for both interstate and intrastate deliveries, as well as expand the air mile radius to 150 as allowed by federal law.
Annual Report Shows Workplace Injury and Illness Rate Continues to Decline
According to estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2012, resulting in an incidence rate of 3.4 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers. The rate reported for 2012 continues the pattern of statistically significant declines that, with the exception of 2011, occurred annually for the last decade.
OSHA Proposes Mandatory Electronic Injury, Illness Reporting
OSHA has proposed requiring employers to file their injury and illness reports electronically, a change that also would make those records publicly accessible. Public access to the information would encourage employers to maintain and improve their workplace safety records to be known as good companies for which to work and with which to do business with, OSHA said in a statement. The data also would allow employers to compare their injury/illness rates to those of other employers, OSHA said. The proposal would affect employers with more than 250 workers. "Three million injuries are three million too many," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "With the changes being proposed in this rule, employers, employees, the government and researchers will have better access to data that will encourage earlier abatement of hazards and result in improved programs to reduce workplace hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The proposal does not add any new requirement to keep records; it only modifies an employer's obligation to transmit these records to OSHA." Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted through February 6, 2014, OSHA said.
New Medical Certification Deadline Fast Approaching
The countdown is on to a January 30, 2014 deadline that all CDL holders must prove medical certification to their state driver's licensing agency. A new regulation issued by DOT requires CDL holders to present proof of medical certification to their home state drivers licensing agency. Once presented to the states, CDL holders will only have to retain the medical certificate on the road with them for 15 days. (Note: We highly recommend you continue to carry your proof of physical with you as you have in the past.) In that time, the state drivers licensing agency is suppose to enter the certification information into the commercial driver's license information system, dubbed CDLIS. The requirement is intended to give roadside law enforcement real-time electronic confirmation of medical certification. With the January 30, 2014 deadline approaching, all CDL holders must provide proof of certification and self-certify operations before that deadline - regardless if their CDL is up for renewal or not. Drivers who do not present proof of certification are at risk of having their CDL downgraded or even suspended.
OSHA Releases Directive for Occupational Noise Related Inspections
OSHA recently released a new directive to provide the technical information and guidance needed to help Compliance Safety and Health Officers evaluate noise hazards in the workplace. The directive is included as a new chapter in the OSHA Technical Manual. Although the directive became effective August 15, 2013, the new chapter became available for public viewing on November 1, 2013. According to OSHA, the content is based on currently available research publications, OSHA standards, and consensus standards. Click here to read the full text of the directive.
Oregon Rule Goes Back to the Drawing Board
In response to concerns over the impacts of the rule, Oregon OSHA announced in a news release that it is withdrawing the state-initiated confined space rule the agency adopted last year. That means employers need to comply with the pre-existing federal OSHA rules in general industry, as well as the limited construction requirements previously in place in the state. Oregon OSHA head Michael Wood said the agency will review industry concerns about the state rulemaking and its economic effects. He explained that his agency remains committed to developing a comprehensive rule addressing confined space hazards in general industry and construction.
In order to avoid problems, however, Oregon OSHA will not cite an employer who is in compliance with either the federal rule or the Oregon-initiated rule, according to the news release. Wood expects a new proposal will be adopted in about six months.
ObamaCare Website Not the Only One Experiencing a "Snafu"
It's been a bad month for the federal government and its websites. Just weeks after President Obama's Healthcare Exchange site began experiencing serious technical difficulties, the regulations.gov portal, through which stakeholders submit public comments on proposed regulations, began suffering similar tribulations. The problems, which occurred over the course of a week or so, have received significantly less attention than the issues affecting the healthcare site - unless you're a farmer, food processor or importer. With comment periods for two Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) proposed rules set to close during the snafu, some say they have had trouble suggesting vital corrections to the provisions. The site crashed on Monday, November 4th, and didn't return until the evening of Wednesday, November 6th. Since then crashes have been intermittent.
Most Quotable: "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." -- Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President
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.