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Newsletter
Volume 122
January 6, 2014
Best Wishes for a Safe, Healthy & Prosperous New Year!
One of the real joys of ringing in a New Year is the opportunity to say "Thank You" and to wish you the very best for a safe, healthy and prosperous 2014! The new year is a special one for the Asmark Institute as it marks our 25th year of service and innovation. We appreciate our relationship and the opportunity to work with you in 2014!
Pam Guffain Retires
TFI's Pam Guffain Retires After 30 Years of Service
Congratulations to Pamela Guffain, Vice President of Membership Services with The Fertilizer Institute on her recent retirement. Pam is recognized professionally throughout the United States for her expertise on rail and DOT issues, her extraordinary work ethic and her contribution to agriculture. She has always been a trusted friend to the ag industry. Most every workday morning you could find Pam in the office getting a head start on the day hours before the starting bell. We'll miss Pam and wish her the very best that retirement has to offer. Congratulations Pam and thank you for all your work on behalf of the ag industry! Pictured is Pam at one of her many Safety School presentations.
"Mr. CropLife" Celebrates 25 Years
Jay Vroom, the polished and well-respected leader of CropLife America (CLA), was recently presented with a silver platter for his "silver anniversary," after 25 years of serving as President and CEO of CLA. The official anniversary of Jay's date of hire fell on November 1, 2013. Congratulations Jay and thanks for all you do for the ag industry!
RMP Facilities: Annual Compliance Visit Documentation
The facilities with a Risk Management Plan (RMP) recently completed the 5-Year Update process during the annual compliance visit process. Don't forget to send us updated copies of your Hazard Review and Compliance Audit that were completed. These documents will be checked for completeness and archived to Snapshots for future reference - ensuring you are ready for your next RMP audit when EPA comes knocking. Copies can be mailed or emailed to rmp@asmark.org. If you have questions, please call Dustin at Extension 203 or dustin@asmark.org.
DVD Exchange: Wrapping It Up
It's time to have all DVDs back in to us. If you haven't completed the exchange, then please do it today. Remember to return your outdated DVD in the provided UPS Return Service packaging so it can be tracked. Thanks for your help with the exchange!
Driver Shortages for 2014
The national transportation situation is going to get tougher in 2014. The quick and dirty on this is that we aren't producing enough workers in the transportation industry fast enough to replace the number of workers we are losing through retirements and jumping industries. To make matters worse, more and more drivers are finding their DOT driving status is being threatened by federal rules each time the government ratchets-up the requirements.
Truck driver shortages are expected to push much higher than the current 100,000 today assuming that construction activity and the general economy continue to improve in 2014 as expected. There aren't enough new entrants coming into the sector and trucking firms are not adding capacity fast enough to keep up with what should be rapid tonnage and shipment growth in 2014.
January 30th Deadline Fast Approaching
By January 30, 2014, all CDL holders must provide to their state licensing agency info on the type of driving they perform as well as the status of their medical examiner's certificate. Less than 70% of the CDL drivers in the United States have complied with the new requirements, leaving approximately 8,000,000 drivers with the potential of losing their CDL. If the proper documents are not turned in by the January 30th deadline, the driver risks having his/her CDL downgraded to a non-CDL class. All CDL privileges would be removed from the license requiring the driver to start over with a new application.
Note: Each state corresponds directly with your drivers, but it might be a smart safeguard to poll your drivers to make sure each one of them has complied with the January 30th deadline.
Worker Protection Standard Pending Revision
On EPA's agenda is a comprehensive revision of the 1992-94 Worker Protection Standard. Watch for more information on this important subject in future issues. CropLife America is preparing for the revision on a variety of technical and education/outreach fronts.
ARA Partners with CDMS on GUIDE App
Thanks to this new partnership, Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) members can receive free access to GUIDE, the most robust and reliable crop protection app available. GUIDE, powered by CDMS' product database, provides instant access to useful and reliable agronomic and product compliance information. Presented through a user-friendly interface, GUIDE delivers data and information on crops, rates, target pests, geographies for use, label types, pre-harvest intervals, worker safety, shipping, usage directions and regulatory information directly to your smart phone or tablet. GUIDE is configurable by state, crop, application method, pest and other parameters on a user-by-user basis. ARA members can get GUIDE for their smart phone or tablet by downloading the free app from the mobile store of their choice and then calling CDMS at (800) 237-2367. Users will be provided a token specific to ARA in order to take advantage of this offer. Once registered and configured, ARA members will have access to all product updates, notifications and information.
Air Injection in Ammonia Application Systems - Not Advised Nor Legal*
EPA and several states with high anhydrous ammonia usage are looking into the sales of air injection systems used to increase pressure and flow. The systems introduce air into anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks to increase tank pressure during cold weather. The system is mounted on anhydrous ammonia toolbars equipped with a hose that attaches to the vapor valve on nurse tanks during cold weather ammonia application. It's not been proven that introducing air into anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks is a safe long-term practice, as it can eventually cause stress crack corrosion compromising the integrity of the metal, which could lead to a catastrophic failure. Additionally, air that has been introduced into ammonia nurse tanks can gradually make its way back into the storage tank, rail car or transport truck.
*Illinois Department of Agriculture regulations specifically prohibit the addition of any additive, including air, due to incompatibility with ammonia system components reports Kevin Runkle, Regulatory Affairs Manager for IFCA.
OSHA Seeks Public Comment on Standards to Improve Chemical Safety
OSHA recently announced a request for information seeking public comment on potential revisions to its Process Safety Management (PSM) standard and related standards, as well as other policy options to prevent major chemical incidents. The request is in response to President Obama's Executive Order 13650, which seeks to improve chemical facility safety and security, issued in the wake of the April 2013 West, Texas tragedy that killed 15 in an ammonium nitrate explosion.
In addition to comments on its Process Safety Management standard, OSHA seeks input on potential updates to its Explosives and Blasting Agents, Flammable Liquids and Spray Finishing standards, as well as potential changes to PSM enforcement policies. The agency also asks for information and data on specific rulemaking and policy options, and the workplace hazards they address. OSHA will use the information received in response to the request to determine what actions, if any, it may take.
The request appeared in the December 9th Federal Register and the public will have 90 days to submit written comments. Once the RFI is published in the Federal Register, interested parties may submit comments at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal.
Regulatory Fights Loom Large in 2014
Here's a glance at ten of the biggest regulatory fights expected in 2014. Battles lines are being drawn for a series of upcoming clashes over new regulations on the horizon in 2014. The year promises to be chock full of contentious fights over scores of new rules stemming from ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank and a host of other laws. Here is what is on tap:
  • Emissions standards for existing power plants
  • Regulation coming to e-cigarettes, cigars
  • ObamaCare's birth control mandate heads to court
  • Turbulence for plan to allow phones on planes
  • EPA to assert power over streams and ponds
  • Smog rule on the way
  • SEC to force executives to disclose pay
  • Calorie counts coming to restaurant menus
  • Delays to rearview camera rule under attack
  • OSHA to rekindle combustible dust debate
Click here to review the details associated to each of these issues.
Showdown for Farms on OSHA
If you are a farmer and have any grain bins on your farming operation and have 10 or less employees - you are on the radar of OSHA. Nebraska U.S. Senator Mike Johanns has demanded that OSHA stop harassing small, family-run farms. Since 1976, Congress has included language in appropriations bills prohibiting OSHA enforcement actions against farmers with ten or fewer employees. But Johanns says the agency recently violated that rule when it assessed a $132,000 fine against a Holt County, Nebraska farm-a farm with only one non-family employee-for grain bin safety violations.
"OSHA accused the farmer of willful violations citing the failure to conduct atmospheric tests in a grain bin and failure to wear OSHA-approved gear when entering a grain bin as examples. Johanns accused OSHA of "making up its own rules" and that "OSHA's claim that the storage of grain is not part of farming is absolutely incredible-it's absurd. It's also a blatant overreach in violation of the law."
Johanns spearheaded a letter calling the agency's action "bureaucratic mission creep." 43 Senators went after Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez with a big political stick over OSHA actions to ignore Congress and redefine small grain farms as "commercial grain handlers" for the purpose of putting inspectors on farms.
At issue is a 1976 federal prohibition on OSHA sending inspectors to farms involved in the "growing and harvesting of crops and any related activity" with 10 or few employees. This action has been reiterated in every congressionally approved spending bill since. However, OSHA said in a 2011 memo to enforcement personnel it can rewrite the definition of farming to classify these small farms as commercial grain handlers, allowing inspectors to inspect grain bins. The agency says the on-farm grain storage function is distinct from the crop production function and has begun sending more inspectors to small farms.
Senator Jerry Moran (R, KS) said "worker safety is an important concern for all of us, but if the Administration believes that OSHA should be able to enforce its regulations on farms, it should take that case to Congress rather than twisting the law in the service of bureaucratic mission creep." Johanns convinced the other 42 Senators - 41 Republicans and two Democrats - to join him in the letter to Perez in which the secretary is asked to take three steps: First, OSHA must cease all action predicated on the "misinterpretation" of federal law - an act "inconsistent with congressional intent;" second, OSHA must issue guidance to its enforcement division to correct the misinterpretation, and the agency should consult with USDA and organizations representing farmers to "assist" in writing the guidance, and lastly, OSHA must provide a list to the Senators of all regulatory actions taken against farms with "incorrectly categorized non-farming activities and 10 or fewer employees since June, 2011." The letter gives Perez until February 1st to comply with the Senators' request.
Note: No doubt the less than stellar safety record of farms will surface during this debate, possibly separating regulatory creep from the issue and result in the promulgation of new rules geared to farms. The West, Texas tragedy has been notably identified as a farmer-owned facility.
Anhydrous Ammonia Storage and Handling Standard
On December 26th, OSHA issued a Federal Register Notice requesting comment on the compliance burdens associated with its Anhydrous Ammonia Storage and Handling Standard, 29 C.F.R. 1910.111. This notice is required periodically by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act. In the notice, OSHA estimates 203,000 entities are subject to 1910.111 and that 345 annual burden hours are associated with the information collection requirements contained in the standard. These estimates cover the universe of those handling anhydrous ammonia, not just fertilizer facilities (i.e. ammonia refrigeration facilities). The burdens identified by OSHA are: (1) nameplates and markings for certain anhydrous ammonia containers (1910.111(b)(3)); and (3) nameplates for refrigerated containers (1910.111 (b)(4)).
OSHA solicits comments on whether the proposed information collection requirements are necessary for the proper performance of OSHA's functions, including whether the information is useful; The accuracy of OSHA's estimate of the burden (time and cost) of the information collection requirements, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; The quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and, Ways to minimize the burdens on employers who must comply with the standard. Comments are due February 24, 2014.
IRS Issues 2014 Standard Mileage Rates
IRS has set the 2014 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Beginning on January 1, 2014, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be: 56 cents per mile for business miles driven; 23.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes; and 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations. The business, medical, and moving expense rates decrease one-half cent from the 2013 rates. The charitable rate is based on statute and did not change.
Just Don't Be The First One.....
A Californian woman has been issued with a traffic ticket for driving while wearing Google Glass. On October 30th, a California woman was pulled over and issued with a ticket for speeding and wearing the smart spectacles while driving. She was cited for breaking a Californian law which prohibits people from watching TV while driving. She is now considering whether to take legal action to fight the ticket on the grounds that the device was turned off. Many of those who posted comments to her page said Google Glass might be covered by exceptions in the California code that let a driver view a display if it shows maps, GPS or can help "enhance or supplement the driver's view."
Are Your Mechanics and Inspectors DOT Qualified?
Can you provide documented proof that the people who perform maintenance and inspection tasks on your commercial motor vehicles are qualified? If not, you may be in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and may be opening yourself up to liability, even if you rely on another company to do all your maintenance and inspections. In terms of liability, allowing unqualified or unknown persons to inspect or work on critical safety components could be a costly mistake. If a contracted maintenance facility uses an unqualified technician to fix the brakes on one of your tractors, for example, and that tractor is involved in a serious accident later in the day, you could face an expensive lawsuit for using an unqualified brake mechanic to repair your vehicles.
Whether you perform inspections and maintenance in-house or have another party perform those tasks for you, you (as the motor carrier) are ultimately responsible for proving that they're qualified.
In terms of the regulations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require qualifications for anyone performing:
  • Annual (periodic) vehicle inspections - see 49 CFR 396.19; or
  • Brake inspections, maintenance, service, or repairs - see 49 CFR 396.25.
In either case, formal training is not necessarily required. Knowing the regulations and having at least one year of experience performing these tasks can be enough to satisfy the qualification requirements.
No matter who performs these tasks for you, make sure you either have documentation on file showing that those individuals are qualified or have a contract specifying that only qualified personnel will be allowed to inspect or repair your equipment. If you do not have proof of qualifications in hand, then, at a minimum, make sure your maintenance personnel can provide that proof on demand. In the event of an audit, you could be asked to provide such proof within 48 hours.
So before you cross paths with a plaintiff's attorney or a government auditor, ask yourself if you're using qualified inspection and maintenance personnel, and make sure you can prove it!
Most Quotable: "The mark of an honest man... is that he means what he says and knows what he means." - Ayn Rand the American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.
2014 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.
Best Wishes for a Safe, Healthy & Prosperous New Year!
One of the real joys of ringing in a New Year is the opportunity to say "Thank You" and to wish you the very best for a safe, healthy and prosperous 2014! The new year is a special one for the Asmark Institute as it marks our 25th year of service and innovation. We appreciate our relationship and the opportunity to work with you in 2014!
Pam Guffain Retires
TFI's Pam Guffain Retires After 30 Years of Service
Congratulations to Pamela Guffain, Vice President of Membership Services with The Fertilizer Institute on her recent retirement. Pam is recognized professionally throughout the United States for her expertise on rail and DOT issues, her extraordinary work ethic and her contribution to agriculture. She has always been a trusted friend to the ag industry. Most every workday morning you could find Pam in the office getting a head start on the day hours before the starting bell. We'll miss Pam and wish her the very best that retirement has to offer. Congratulations Pam and thank you for all your work on behalf of the ag industry! Pictured is Pam at one of her many Safety School presentations.
"Mr. CropLife" Celebrates 25 Years
Jay Vroom, the polished and well-respected leader of CropLife America (CLA), was recently presented with a silver platter for his "silver anniversary," after 25 years of serving as President and CEO of CLA. The official anniversary of Jay's date of hire fell on November 1, 2013. Congratulations Jay and thanks for all you do for the ag industry!
RMP Facilities: Annual Compliance Visit Documentation
The facilities with a Risk Management Plan (RMP) recently completed the 5-Year Update process during the annual compliance visit process. Don't forget to send us updated copies of your Hazard Review and Compliance Audit that were completed. These documents will be checked for completeness and archived to Snapshots for future reference - ensuring you are ready for your next RMP audit when EPA comes knocking. Copies can be mailed or emailed to rmp@asmark.org. If you have questions, please call Dustin at Extension 203 or dustin@asmark.org.
DVD Exchange: Wrapping It Up
It's time to have all DVDs back in to us. If you haven't completed the exchange, then please do it today. Remember to return your outdated DVD in the provided UPS Return Service packaging so it can be tracked. Thanks for your help with the exchange!
Driver Shortages for 2014
The national transportation situation is going to get tougher in 2014. The quick and dirty on this is that we aren't producing enough workers in the transportation industry fast enough to replace the number of workers we are losing through retirements and jumping industries. To make matters worse, more and more drivers are finding their DOT driving status is being threatened by federal rules each time the government ratchets-up the requirements.
Truck driver shortages are expected to push much higher than the current 100,000 today assuming that construction activity and the general economy continue to improve in 2014 as expected. There aren't enough new entrants coming into the sector and trucking firms are not adding capacity fast enough to keep up with what should be rapid tonnage and shipment growth in 2014.
January 30th Deadline Fast Approaching
By January 30, 2014, all CDL holders must provide to their state licensing agency info on the type of driving they perform as well as the status of their medical examiner's certificate. Less than 70% of the CDL drivers in the United States have complied with the new requirements, leaving approximately 8,000,000 drivers with the potential of losing their CDL. If the proper documents are not turned in by the January 30th deadline, the driver risks having his/her CDL downgraded to a non-CDL class. All CDL privileges would be removed from the license requiring the driver to start over with a new application.
Note: Each state corresponds directly with your drivers, but it might be a smart safeguard to poll your drivers to make sure each one of them has complied with the January 30th deadline.
Worker Protection Standard Pending Revision
On EPA's agenda is a comprehensive revision of the 1992-94 Worker Protection Standard. Watch for more information on this important subject in future issues. CropLife America is preparing for the revision on a variety of technical and education/outreach fronts.
ARA Partners with CDMS on GUIDE App
Thanks to this new partnership, Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) members can receive free access to GUIDE, the most robust and reliable crop protection app available. GUIDE, powered by CDMS' product database, provides instant access to useful and reliable agronomic and product compliance information. Presented through a user-friendly interface, GUIDE delivers data and information on crops, rates, target pests, geographies for use, label types, pre-harvest intervals, worker safety, shipping, usage directions and regulatory information directly to your smart phone or tablet. GUIDE is configurable by state, crop, application method, pest and other parameters on a user-by-user basis. ARA members can get GUIDE for their smart phone or tablet by downloading the free app from the mobile store of their choice and then calling CDMS at (800) 237-2367. Users will be provided a token specific to ARA in order to take advantage of this offer. Once registered and configured, ARA members will have access to all product updates, notifications and information.
Air Injection in Ammonia Application Systems - Not Advised Nor Legal*
EPA and several states with high anhydrous ammonia usage are looking into the sales of air injection systems used to increase pressure and flow. The systems introduce air into anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks to increase tank pressure during cold weather. The system is mounted on anhydrous ammonia toolbars equipped with a hose that attaches to the vapor valve on nurse tanks during cold weather ammonia application. It's not been proven that introducing air into anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks is a safe long-term practice, as it can eventually cause stress crack corrosion compromising the integrity of the metal, which could lead to a catastrophic failure. Additionally, air that has been introduced into ammonia nurse tanks can gradually make its way back into the storage tank, rail car or transport truck.
*Illinois Department of Agriculture regulations specifically prohibit the addition of any additive, including air, due to incompatibility with ammonia system components reports Kevin Runkle, Regulatory Affairs Manager for IFCA.
OSHA Seeks Public Comment on Standards to Improve Chemical Safety
OSHA recently announced a request for information seeking public comment on potential revisions to its Process Safety Management (PSM) standard and related standards, as well as other policy options to prevent major chemical incidents. The request is in response to President Obama's Executive Order 13650, which seeks to improve chemical facility safety and security, issued in the wake of the April 2013 West, Texas tragedy that killed 15 in an ammonium nitrate explosion.
In addition to comments on its Process Safety Management standard, OSHA seeks input on potential updates to its Explosives and Blasting Agents, Flammable Liquids and Spray Finishing standards, as well as potential changes to PSM enforcement policies. The agency also asks for information and data on specific rulemaking and policy options, and the workplace hazards they address. OSHA will use the information received in response to the request to determine what actions, if any, it may take.
The request appeared in the December 9th Federal Register and the public will have 90 days to submit written comments. Once the RFI is published in the Federal Register, interested parties may submit comments at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal.
Regulatory Fights Loom Large in 2014
Here's a glance at ten of the biggest regulatory fights expected in 2014. Battles lines are being drawn for a series of upcoming clashes over new regulations on the horizon in 2014. The year promises to be chock full of contentious fights over scores of new rules stemming from ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank and a host of other laws. Here is what is on tap:
  • Emissions standards for existing power plants
  • Regulation coming to e-cigarettes, cigars
  • ObamaCare's birth control mandate heads to court
  • Turbulence for plan to allow phones on planes
  • EPA to assert power over streams and ponds
  • Smog rule on the way
  • SEC to force executives to disclose pay
  • Calorie counts coming to restaurant menus
  • Delays to rearview camera rule under attack
  • OSHA to rekindle combustible dust debate
Click here to review the details associated to each of these issues.
Showdown for Farms on OSHA
If you are a farmer and have any grain bins on your farming operation and have 10 or less employees - you are on the radar of OSHA. Nebraska U.S. Senator Mike Johanns has demanded that OSHA stop harassing small, family-run farms. Since 1976, Congress has included language in appropriations bills prohibiting OSHA enforcement actions against farmers with ten or fewer employees. But Johanns says the agency recently violated that rule when it assessed a $132,000 fine against a Holt County, Nebraska farm-a farm with only one non-family employee-for grain bin safety violations.
"OSHA accused the farmer of willful violations citing the failure to conduct atmospheric tests in a grain bin and failure to wear OSHA-approved gear when entering a grain bin as examples. Johanns accused OSHA of "making up its own rules" and that "OSHA's claim that the storage of grain is not part of farming is absolutely incredible-it's absurd. It's also a blatant overreach in violation of the law."
Johanns spearheaded a letter calling the agency's action "bureaucratic mission creep." 43 Senators went after Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez with a big political stick over OSHA actions to ignore Congress and redefine small grain farms as "commercial grain handlers" for the purpose of putting inspectors on farms.
At issue is a 1976 federal prohibition on OSHA sending inspectors to farms involved in the "growing and harvesting of crops and any related activity" with 10 or few employees. This action has been reiterated in every congressionally approved spending bill since. However, OSHA said in a 2011 memo to enforcement personnel it can rewrite the definition of farming to classify these small farms as commercial grain handlers, allowing inspectors to inspect grain bins. The agency says the on-farm grain storage function is distinct from the crop production function and has begun sending more inspectors to small farms.
Senator Jerry Moran (R, KS) said "worker safety is an important concern for all of us, but if the Administration believes that OSHA should be able to enforce its regulations on farms, it should take that case to Congress rather than twisting the law in the service of bureaucratic mission creep." Johanns convinced the other 42 Senators - 41 Republicans and two Democrats - to join him in the letter to Perez in which the secretary is asked to take three steps: First, OSHA must cease all action predicated on the "misinterpretation" of federal law - an act "inconsistent with congressional intent;" second, OSHA must issue guidance to its enforcement division to correct the misinterpretation, and the agency should consult with USDA and organizations representing farmers to "assist" in writing the guidance, and lastly, OSHA must provide a list to the Senators of all regulatory actions taken against farms with "incorrectly categorized non-farming activities and 10 or fewer employees since June, 2011." The letter gives Perez until February 1st to comply with the Senators' request.
Note: No doubt the less than stellar safety record of farms will surface during this debate, possibly separating regulatory creep from the issue and result in the promulgation of new rules geared to farms. The West, Texas tragedy has been notably identified as a farmer-owned facility.
Anhydrous Ammonia Storage and Handling Standard
On December 26th, OSHA issued a Federal Register Notice requesting comment on the compliance burdens associated with its Anhydrous Ammonia Storage and Handling Standard, 29 C.F.R. 1910.111. This notice is required periodically by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act. In the notice, OSHA estimates 203,000 entities are subject to 1910.111 and that 345 annual burden hours are associated with the information collection requirements contained in the standard. These estimates cover the universe of those handling anhydrous ammonia, not just fertilizer facilities (i.e. ammonia refrigeration facilities). The burdens identified by OSHA are: (1) nameplates and markings for certain anhydrous ammonia containers (1910.111(b)(3)); and (3) nameplates for refrigerated containers (1910.111 (b)(4)).
OSHA solicits comments on whether the proposed information collection requirements are necessary for the proper performance of OSHA's functions, including whether the information is useful; The accuracy of OSHA's estimate of the burden (time and cost) of the information collection requirements, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; The quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and, Ways to minimize the burdens on employers who must comply with the standard. Comments are due February 24, 2014.
IRS Issues 2014 Standard Mileage Rates
IRS has set the 2014 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Beginning on January 1, 2014, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be: 56 cents per mile for business miles driven; 23.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes; and 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations. The business, medical, and moving expense rates decrease one-half cent from the 2013 rates. The charitable rate is based on statute and did not change.
Just Don't Be The First One.....
A Californian woman has been issued with a traffic ticket for driving while wearing Google Glass. On October 30th, a California woman was pulled over and issued with a ticket for speeding and wearing the smart spectacles while driving. She was cited for breaking a Californian law which prohibits people from watching TV while driving. She is now considering whether to take legal action to fight the ticket on the grounds that the device was turned off. Many of those who posted comments to her page said Google Glass might be covered by exceptions in the California code that let a driver view a display if it shows maps, GPS or can help "enhance or supplement the driver's view."
Are Your Mechanics and Inspectors DOT Qualified?
Can you provide documented proof that the people who perform maintenance and inspection tasks on your commercial motor vehicles are qualified? If not, you may be in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and may be opening yourself up to liability, even if you rely on another company to do all your maintenance and inspections. In terms of liability, allowing unqualified or unknown persons to inspect or work on critical safety components could be a costly mistake. If a contracted maintenance facility uses an unqualified technician to fix the brakes on one of your tractors, for example, and that tractor is involved in a serious accident later in the day, you could face an expensive lawsuit for using an unqualified brake mechanic to repair your vehicles.
Whether you perform inspections and maintenance in-house or have another party perform those tasks for you, you (as the motor carrier) are ultimately responsible for proving that they're qualified.
In terms of the regulations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require qualifications for anyone performing:
  • Annual (periodic) vehicle inspections - see 49 CFR 396.19; or
  • Brake inspections, maintenance, service, or repairs - see 49 CFR 396.25.
In either case, formal training is not necessarily required. Knowing the regulations and having at least one year of experience performing these tasks can be enough to satisfy the qualification requirements.
No matter who performs these tasks for you, make sure you either have documentation on file showing that those individuals are qualified or have a contract specifying that only qualified personnel will be allowed to inspect or repair your equipment. If you do not have proof of qualifications in hand, then, at a minimum, make sure your maintenance personnel can provide that proof on demand. In the event of an audit, you could be asked to provide such proof within 48 hours.
So before you cross paths with a plaintiff's attorney or a government auditor, ask yourself if you're using qualified inspection and maintenance personnel, and make sure you can prove it!
Most Quotable: "The mark of an honest man... is that he means what he says and knows what he means." - Ayn Rand the American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.
2014 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.