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Newsletter
Volume 126
May 1, 2014
Please Be Safe...
We send our heartfelt condolences to the family and fellow employees of Brent Stewart of Newman, Illinois who was killed last week when his custom application vehicle (CAV) was struck by a train as he was leaving a field in Champaign County. Brent was 42 years old and an important part of the Illini FS team at Tolono, IL. We ask that you keep his family and the team at Illini FS in your prayers. As a mid-season reminder, we want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to take a moment to think about what it means to do the task at hand safely. The goal is for every person to return home safely every day to their family.
Coming Soon!
Currently in production, the Asmark Institute has partnered with the Agricultural Retailers Association to produce a new training program titled Custom Application Vehicles: Safety on the Road. This 30 minute DVD will be geared to the safe operation of CAVs on the highway to and from the field. The DVD will include information on safely entering/maneuvering into and out of fields, crossing bridges and railroad tracks, with special attention on preventing injuries and fatalities from potential dangers such as booms and augers that come in contact with electrical lines. Watch for this new training program in December.
CSB: Fire Was Preventable... Lack of Regulation at All Levels of Government...
On April 22, 2014, the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released preliminary findings into the West Fertilizer explosion and fire in West, Texas, which resulted in 14 fatalities, 226 injuries and widespread community damage. Large quantities of ammonium nitrate (AN) fertilizer exploded after being heated by a fire at the storage and distribution facility. CSB's investigation focuses on shortcomings in existing regulations, standards and guidance at the federal, state and county level. According to CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso, "The fire and explosion at West Fertilizer was preventable. It should never have occurred. It resulted from the failure of a company to take the necessary steps to avert a preventable fire and explosion and from the inability of federal, state and local regulatory agencies to identify a serious hazard and correct it."
CSB Supervisory Investigator Johnnie Banks said, "The CSB found at all levels of government a failure to adopt codes to keep populated areas away from hazardous facilities, not just in West, Texas. We found 1,351 facilities across the country that store ammonium nitrate. Farm communities are just starting to collect data on how close homes or schools are to AN storage, but there can be little doubt that West is not alone and that other communities should act to determine what hazards might exist in proximity." CSB's preliminary findings follow a yearlong investigation which has focused on learning how to prevent a similar accident from occurring in another community.
The CSB's investigation determined that lessons learned during emergency responses to AN incidents - in which firefighters perished - have not been effectively disseminated to firefighters and emergency responders in other communities where AN is stored and utilized. The CSB has found that on April 17, 2013, West volunteer firefighters were not aware of the explosion hazard from the AN stored at West Fertilizer and were caught in harm's way when the blast occurred.
Moure-Eraso commended recent action by The Fertilizer Institute in establishing an auditing and outreach program for fertilizer retailers called ResponsibleAg, and for disseminating with the Agricultural Retailers Association a document called "Safety and Security Guidelines for the Storage and Transportation of Fertilizer Grade Ammonium Nitrate at Fertilizer Retail Facilities." It also contains recommendations for first responders in the event of a fire. "We welcome this very positive step," Dr. Moure-Eraso said, "We hope that the whole industry embraces these voluntary guidelines rather than being accepted only by the companies that choose to volunteer."
Head Start Program Prepares the Next Generation of Ag Retailers
The Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA), in partnership with the Asmark Institute, provides a training curriculum for Illinois' community college students enrolled in agriculture programs at their respective college. The Head Start Program offers students a training curriculum that prepares them for work at agricultural retail facilities. "One thing missing in the agricultural workforce is a variety of young, talented and properly trained individuals prepared to enter the ag retail industry," according to Allen Summers, President of Asmark Institute. "If we can assist by offering agricultural students basic safety training, then we help the industry by preparing the next generation for a career in ag retail."
The Head Start Program focuses on training agriculture students. The program provides each participant with driver qualification files, as well as training on the subjects of confined space entry, forklift safety training, blood borne pathogens, anhydrous ammonia safety, hazardous materials, hazard communication, personal protective equipment, Worker Protection Standards, fire extinguisher, lockout/tagout and respiratory protection. One of the goals of the Head Start Program is to reduce accidents at the workplace while at the same time giving students a head start on safety and training requirements, prior to entering the ag retail workforce. The most recent course was offered at the Asmark Institute Agricenter in Bloomington, IL, on May 1, 2014.
"We were approached by Rich Teeter, Assistant Professor of Agriculture at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, IL, to once again offer a training program for their students prior to graduation. We decided to offer training courses that satisfy USEPA, OSHA, IDOA and USDOT training requirements," stated Kevin Runkle, Director of Regulatory Services for Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association. "This unique program is now in its second year, and if it generates continued interest from other community colleges in Illinois, we will offer more training programs." The Head Start Ag Safety Program won the 2013 Illinois Council of Community College Administrators (ICCCA) Innovation Award. If you have questions about the Head Start Training Program, contact Kevin Runkle at 309-827-2774. The Head Start Program is available to any state agribusiness association affiliate.
Ohio Bill to Require Certification to Apply Fertilizer
The Ohio House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 150 (SB 150), a bill that will now require one farmer per farm operation to be certified to apply fertilizer. "The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) and the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) have always taken the quality of Ohio's water very seriously," said Brent Hostetler, OCWGA president and Madison County farmer. "Both organizations have worked together through the entire process of this bill to assure that it addresses environmental needs, but does not include overly burdensome requirements for Ohio family farmers."
"Moving forward, both organizations will continue to emphasize to legislators and agency officials the importance of practical, science-based solutions," said Hostetler. Jerry Bambauer, OSA president and Auglaize County farmer, emphasized the need to fully understand this challenge before solutions can be implemented. "No one has a clear understanding of how exactly phosphorus is moving through the soil profile, or can explain why there are algae blooms in areas that don't have agricultural activity near them," Bambauer said.
For this reason, the Ohio Soybean Council, the Ohio Corn Marketing Program, the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program and many others, are supporting a $2 million research project with more than $1 million coming from Ohio farmers and other agricultural companies, that will measure edge-of-field phosphorus runoff and will show how phosphorus is used in agriculture, how it leaves farm fields and how much of it is actually entering Ohio's waterways.
"Farmers are already applying important nutrient management practices, like soil testing and using the 4R principles of nutrient management (right source, right rate, right time and right place)," Bambauer said. "We're all committed to doing our part to find solutions for the health of Ohio's waterways."
Remote Scale Display Guidance Released by the Kansas DOA
The Kansas Department of Agriculture's Weights and Measures program, recently released a guidance document to clarify the department's interpretation of when remote displays are required for scales. The guidance document was mailed to owners of large scales. The purpose of the document is to clarify what is acceptable for compliance with the weights and measures scale regulations.
The relevant language in the law is found in KSA 83-219(a) and NIST Handbook 44 (General Code para.-UR.3.3., Position of Equipment), which requires that indicators for commercial scales "be positioned in such a way as to facilitate to the greatest practicable extent, customer verification of the weight determination." The department's interpretation of this language is that "the customer position to view the indicator in most cases will be the driver's seat."
Scale owners will be required to provide their customers with verification of the scale at zero, as well as the weight indicated with a load on the scale. The document states that NIST Handbook 44 User Requirements and Kansas Weights and Measures law provide the customer the right to view the entire transaction from start to finish.
The take-away for scale owners is that if your company safety procedures require truck drivers to remain in their vehicle during the weighing process and you do not provide an indicating element that is visible from the truck, then the department will likely require you to have a remote indicating element (scoreboard display) installed for the scale. The Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association is the latest organization to report on an increased State activity relating to scales and weights/measures issue. We appreciate their help with this article.
Attention Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers
Did you know an important law affecting you goes into effect May 21, 2014? To keep America's interstate CMV drivers healthy and our roads safer, all interstate CMV drivers will soon be required to have their medical examinations performed by a Certified Medical Examiner listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.
If you're an interstate CMV driver, you already need a valid medical certificate signed by a medical examiner. The only change is that after May 21, 2014, you'll need to go to a certified medical examiner for your medical certificate. If you've already had an exam and have a current certificate, that certificate will be valid until its regular expiration date.
You can find certified medical examiners in your area - or anywhere in the country - easily:
  1. Visit the National Registry Web site and search by Zip Code, State or examiner name.
  2. Choose a certified medical examiner from the list and call to make an appointment.
  3. If your preferred health care professional isn't on the list, simply refer him or her to the Certified Medical Examiners page to learn more about getting certified.
DOT originally announced as a goal the certification and registration of 40,000 medical examiners was expected. However, it appears the agency is not close to their stated goal for the program after reviewing the list of certified medical examiners when conducting searches in more rural areas of the United States. Spread the word and encourage your fellow CMV drivers to find a Certified Medical Examiner by May 21st.
OSHA Issues Series of Violations Based on Multi-Year and Multi-State History
OSHA has cited a company with grain facilities for 19 violations of workplace safety and health standards, including 14 serious, three repeat and two other-than-serious violations. The company faces $211,000 in proposed fines as a result of four inspections. The company's grain operations have been inspected 15 times since November 2008, which resulted in findings of multiple violations. Of those 15 inspections, five were at facilities in Montana, four in North Dakota, three in Iowa, two in Kansas and one in Texas. One of the Kansas inspections followed the death of a worker on June 29, 2010 who fell into an inadequately protected grain bin.
OSHA issued three repeat violations for failing to test the air quality in permit-required confined spaces for hazardous gases, contaminants, combustible dust or lack of oxygen prior to allowing entry by workers; for failing to have effective procedures to remove fugitive grain dust accumulations; and for failing to have safe electrical equipment in combustible dust areas.
The serious violations identified during the latest investigations by OSHA included inadequate confined space entry and recovery procedures, inadequate machine guarding, obstructed exit routes and live exposed electrical wiring.
Following a record number of grain entrapments in 2010 when 31 workers lost their lives, OSHA launched an education and enforcement initiative that included outreach and compliance assistance to prevent engulfments and fatalities in grain bins. This effort included sending letters to 13,000 grain elevator employers describing the common-sense methods that must be used to prevent these tragedies.
The employer has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
More Lengthy, Complex OSHA Inspections
According to OSHA's FY 2014 budget proposal documents, the agency is exploring a new inspection system that could allow inspections to be rated on complexity, providing an incentive for OSHA compliance officers and area offices to focus their time and efforts on more complex inspections. This means that employers, who may not have seen much inspection activity in the past, or only general inspection activity, may soon see more and/or different types of inspections.
OSHA says it is at a crossroads concerning how it will direct its enforcement resources. The agency has always operated under the assumption that "more inspections are better," as the more establishments inspected, the greater OSHA's presence and impact. Consequently, there has always been pressure on the agency to conduct more inspections than it did in the previous years. The problem with this model, OSHA now believes, is that not all inspections are created equal. Some inspections, such as those dealing with process safety management (PSM), ergonomics, complicated electrical and machine guarding or industrial hygiene inspections dealing with unknown or unique chemicals, take more time and resources to complete than the average or typical OSHA inspection. The agency has never accounted for the resource needs of these complex types of inspections in its enforcement strategy.
With the burden to conduct more and more inspections with possibly fewer resources over the next several years, OSHA field personnel would find themselves forced to conduct less time-intensive, shorter inspections rather than the more complicated inspections. Under the current system, the only incentive for a compliance officer is to meet the inspection goals - there is no incentive for them to do the larger more complicated inspections. This is why in FY 2014, the agency intends to explore an inspection weighting approach in order to direct inspections to high hazard operations - including inspections of refineries and chemical plants, emerging chemical and health issues and workplace violence.
Right now, each inspection, whether it takes six months or six hours, is weighted the same. OSHA's current internal system does not take into account the wide array of resource intensive inspections performed by the agency. OSHA is not implementing the new weighting system this year, but is examining FY 2014 data to establish a solid baseline.
Citizen Drift Catchers Complete Spring Training
This article is provided by our friends at the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA). While aerial applicators around the country have been gearing up for the new season by calibrating their spray equipment at Operation S.A.F.E. clinics, citizen activists in Iowa and Minnesota have been preparing too - to be on the lookout for signs of off-target drift. Last month, the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) trained 30 newly minted "citizen drift catchers" on how to take air samples using an on-ground air monitoring system known as Drift Catcher. While low in numbers, these citizen drift catchers appear fervent in their desire to hold applicators "accountable" for the products they are hired to apply for their farmer customers. All applicators should take heed and exercise an extra degree of caution as they make their applications this year. NAAA made a point to remind its members to heed the PAASS motto, "Upon the Performance of Each Rests the Fate of All." Great advice for all!
Court Upholds OSHA's Position on General Duty Clause
In a two-to-one opinion, the D.C. Circuit denied SeaWorld's appeal of the decision of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission that SeaWorld violated the OSHA's general duty clause by permitting close contact between killer whales and trainers during shows at the company's Orlando, Florida theme park. OSHA cited SeaWorld for two violations of the general duty clause following an investigation into the death of a trainer who was pulled into a pool by a killer whale in February of 2010.
The courts have consistently upheld OSHA's position that killer whales pose a danger to employees who are not adequately protected, and further upheld the rights of workers to return home safe and healthy each day. Specifically, the court held that, "the nature of SeaWorld's workplace and the unusual nature of the hazard to its employees performing in close physical contact with killer whales, do not remove SeaWorld from its obligation under the General Duty Clause to protect its employees from recognized hazards."
DOT Finalizes Plan to Phase in Vehicle Rearview Cameras
On March 31st, DOT finalized a set of federal standards for rear visibility that will require all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds to have backup cameras by mid-2018. Congress called for the rules in 2008 after a spate of accidents in which parents driving cars or trucks backed over their young children, killing them. The rules will phase in over several years. Auto makers will be required to have compliant rearview systems in 10% of the vehicles they build from May 1, 2016 to May 1, 2017. That share rises to 40% for the next year and 100% starting on May 1, 2018. The rules require drivers to be able to see a 10-foot by 20-foot zone behind a vehicle. A camera system appears to be the only way for auto makers to comply with that requirement and separate standards for traits such as "image size."
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.
Please Be Safe...
We send our heartfelt condolences to the family and fellow employees of Brent Stewart of Newman, Illinois who was killed last week when his custom application vehicle (CAV) was struck by a train as he was leaving a field in Champaign County. Brent was 42 years old and an important part of the Illini FS team at Tolono, IL. We ask that you keep his family and the team at Illini FS in your prayers. As a mid-season reminder, we want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to take a moment to think about what it means to do the task at hand safely. The goal is for every person to return home safely every day to their family.
Coming Soon!
Currently in production, the Asmark Institute has partnered with the Agricultural Retailers Association to produce a new training program titled Custom Application Vehicles: Safety on the Road. This 30 minute DVD will be geared to the safe operation of CAVs on the highway to and from the field. The DVD will include information on safely entering/maneuvering into and out of fields, crossing bridges and railroad tracks, with special attention on preventing injuries and fatalities from potential dangers such as booms and augers that come in contact with electrical lines. Watch for this new training program in December.
CSB: Fire Was Preventable... Lack of Regulation at All Levels of Government...
On April 22, 2014, the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released preliminary findings into the West Fertilizer explosion and fire in West, Texas, which resulted in 14 fatalities, 226 injuries and widespread community damage. Large quantities of ammonium nitrate (AN) fertilizer exploded after being heated by a fire at the storage and distribution facility. CSB's investigation focuses on shortcomings in existing regulations, standards and guidance at the federal, state and county level. According to CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso, "The fire and explosion at West Fertilizer was preventable. It should never have occurred. It resulted from the failure of a company to take the necessary steps to avert a preventable fire and explosion and from the inability of federal, state and local regulatory agencies to identify a serious hazard and correct it."
CSB Supervisory Investigator Johnnie Banks said, "The CSB found at all levels of government a failure to adopt codes to keep populated areas away from hazardous facilities, not just in West, Texas. We found 1,351 facilities across the country that store ammonium nitrate. Farm communities are just starting to collect data on how close homes or schools are to AN storage, but there can be little doubt that West is not alone and that other communities should act to determine what hazards might exist in proximity." CSB's preliminary findings follow a yearlong investigation which has focused on learning how to prevent a similar accident from occurring in another community.
The CSB's investigation determined that lessons learned during emergency responses to AN incidents - in which firefighters perished - have not been effectively disseminated to firefighters and emergency responders in other communities where AN is stored and utilized. The CSB has found that on April 17, 2013, West volunteer firefighters were not aware of the explosion hazard from the AN stored at West Fertilizer and were caught in harm's way when the blast occurred.
Moure-Eraso commended recent action by The Fertilizer Institute in establishing an auditing and outreach program for fertilizer retailers called ResponsibleAg, and for disseminating with the Agricultural Retailers Association a document called "Safety and Security Guidelines for the Storage and Transportation of Fertilizer Grade Ammonium Nitrate at Fertilizer Retail Facilities." It also contains recommendations for first responders in the event of a fire. "We welcome this very positive step," Dr. Moure-Eraso said, "We hope that the whole industry embraces these voluntary guidelines rather than being accepted only by the companies that choose to volunteer."
Head Start Program Prepares the Next Generation of Ag Retailers
The Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA), in partnership with the Asmark Institute, provides a training curriculum for Illinois' community college students enrolled in agriculture programs at their respective college. The Head Start Program offers students a training curriculum that prepares them for work at agricultural retail facilities. "One thing missing in the agricultural workforce is a variety of young, talented and properly trained individuals prepared to enter the ag retail industry," according to Allen Summers, President of Asmark Institute. "If we can assist by offering agricultural students basic safety training, then we help the industry by preparing the next generation for a career in ag retail."
The Head Start Program focuses on training agriculture students. The program provides each participant with driver qualification files, as well as training on the subjects of confined space entry, forklift safety training, blood borne pathogens, anhydrous ammonia safety, hazardous materials, hazard communication, personal protective equipment, Worker Protection Standards, fire extinguisher, lockout/tagout and respiratory protection. One of the goals of the Head Start Program is to reduce accidents at the workplace while at the same time giving students a head start on safety and training requirements, prior to entering the ag retail workforce. The most recent course was offered at the Asmark Institute Agricenter in Bloomington, IL, on May 1, 2014.
"We were approached by Rich Teeter, Assistant Professor of Agriculture at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, IL, to once again offer a training program for their students prior to graduation. We decided to offer training courses that satisfy USEPA, OSHA, IDOA and USDOT training requirements," stated Kevin Runkle, Director of Regulatory Services for Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association. "This unique program is now in its second year, and if it generates continued interest from other community colleges in Illinois, we will offer more training programs." The Head Start Ag Safety Program won the 2013 Illinois Council of Community College Administrators (ICCCA) Innovation Award. If you have questions about the Head Start Training Program, contact Kevin Runkle at 309-827-2774. The Head Start Program is available to any state agribusiness association affiliate.
Ohio Bill to Require Certification to Apply Fertilizer
The Ohio House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 150 (SB 150), a bill that will now require one farmer per farm operation to be certified to apply fertilizer. "The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) and the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) have always taken the quality of Ohio's water very seriously," said Brent Hostetler, OCWGA president and Madison County farmer. "Both organizations have worked together through the entire process of this bill to assure that it addresses environmental needs, but does not include overly burdensome requirements for Ohio family farmers."
"Moving forward, both organizations will continue to emphasize to legislators and agency officials the importance of practical, science-based solutions," said Hostetler. Jerry Bambauer, OSA president and Auglaize County farmer, emphasized the need to fully understand this challenge before solutions can be implemented. "No one has a clear understanding of how exactly phosphorus is moving through the soil profile, or can explain why there are algae blooms in areas that don't have agricultural activity near them," Bambauer said.
For this reason, the Ohio Soybean Council, the Ohio Corn Marketing Program, the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program and many others, are supporting a $2 million research project with more than $1 million coming from Ohio farmers and other agricultural companies, that will measure edge-of-field phosphorus runoff and will show how phosphorus is used in agriculture, how it leaves farm fields and how much of it is actually entering Ohio's waterways.
"Farmers are already applying important nutrient management practices, like soil testing and using the 4R principles of nutrient management (right source, right rate, right time and right place)," Bambauer said. "We're all committed to doing our part to find solutions for the health of Ohio's waterways."
Remote Scale Display Guidance Released by the Kansas DOA
The Kansas Department of Agriculture's Weights and Measures program, recently released a guidance document to clarify the department's interpretation of when remote displays are required for scales. The guidance document was mailed to owners of large scales. The purpose of the document is to clarify what is acceptable for compliance with the weights and measures scale regulations.
The relevant language in the law is found in KSA 83-219(a) and NIST Handbook 44 (General Code para.-UR.3.3., Position of Equipment), which requires that indicators for commercial scales "be positioned in such a way as to facilitate to the greatest practicable extent, customer verification of the weight determination." The department's interpretation of this language is that "the customer position to view the indicator in most cases will be the driver's seat."
Scale owners will be required to provide their customers with verification of the scale at zero, as well as the weight indicated with a load on the scale. The document states that NIST Handbook 44 User Requirements and Kansas Weights and Measures law provide the customer the right to view the entire transaction from start to finish.
The take-away for scale owners is that if your company safety procedures require truck drivers to remain in their vehicle during the weighing process and you do not provide an indicating element that is visible from the truck, then the department will likely require you to have a remote indicating element (scoreboard display) installed for the scale. The Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association is the latest organization to report on an increased State activity relating to scales and weights/measures issue. We appreciate their help with this article.
Attention Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers
Did you know an important law affecting you goes into effect May 21, 2014? To keep America's interstate CMV drivers healthy and our roads safer, all interstate CMV drivers will soon be required to have their medical examinations performed by a Certified Medical Examiner listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.
If you're an interstate CMV driver, you already need a valid medical certificate signed by a medical examiner. The only change is that after May 21, 2014, you'll need to go to a certified medical examiner for your medical certificate. If you've already had an exam and have a current certificate, that certificate will be valid until its regular expiration date.
You can find certified medical examiners in your area - or anywhere in the country - easily:
  1. Visit the National Registry Web site and search by Zip Code, State or examiner name.
  2. Choose a certified medical examiner from the list and call to make an appointment.
  3. If your preferred health care professional isn't on the list, simply refer him or her to the Certified Medical Examiners page to learn more about getting certified.
DOT originally announced as a goal the certification and registration of 40,000 medical examiners was expected. However, it appears the agency is not close to their stated goal for the program after reviewing the list of certified medical examiners when conducting searches in more rural areas of the United States. Spread the word and encourage your fellow CMV drivers to find a Certified Medical Examiner by May 21st.
OSHA Issues Series of Violations Based on Multi-Year and Multi-State History
OSHA has cited a company with grain facilities for 19 violations of workplace safety and health standards, including 14 serious, three repeat and two other-than-serious violations. The company faces $211,000 in proposed fines as a result of four inspections. The company's grain operations have been inspected 15 times since November 2008, which resulted in findings of multiple violations. Of those 15 inspections, five were at facilities in Montana, four in North Dakota, three in Iowa, two in Kansas and one in Texas. One of the Kansas inspections followed the death of a worker on June 29, 2010 who fell into an inadequately protected grain bin.
OSHA issued three repeat violations for failing to test the air quality in permit-required confined spaces for hazardous gases, contaminants, combustible dust or lack of oxygen prior to allowing entry by workers; for failing to have effective procedures to remove fugitive grain dust accumulations; and for failing to have safe electrical equipment in combustible dust areas.
The serious violations identified during the latest investigations by OSHA included inadequate confined space entry and recovery procedures, inadequate machine guarding, obstructed exit routes and live exposed electrical wiring.
Following a record number of grain entrapments in 2010 when 31 workers lost their lives, OSHA launched an education and enforcement initiative that included outreach and compliance assistance to prevent engulfments and fatalities in grain bins. This effort included sending letters to 13,000 grain elevator employers describing the common-sense methods that must be used to prevent these tragedies.
The employer has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
More Lengthy, Complex OSHA Inspections
According to OSHA's FY 2014 budget proposal documents, the agency is exploring a new inspection system that could allow inspections to be rated on complexity, providing an incentive for OSHA compliance officers and area offices to focus their time and efforts on more complex inspections. This means that employers, who may not have seen much inspection activity in the past, or only general inspection activity, may soon see more and/or different types of inspections.
OSHA says it is at a crossroads concerning how it will direct its enforcement resources. The agency has always operated under the assumption that "more inspections are better," as the more establishments inspected, the greater OSHA's presence and impact. Consequently, there has always been pressure on the agency to conduct more inspections than it did in the previous years. The problem with this model, OSHA now believes, is that not all inspections are created equal. Some inspections, such as those dealing with process safety management (PSM), ergonomics, complicated electrical and machine guarding or industrial hygiene inspections dealing with unknown or unique chemicals, take more time and resources to complete than the average or typical OSHA inspection. The agency has never accounted for the resource needs of these complex types of inspections in its enforcement strategy.
With the burden to conduct more and more inspections with possibly fewer resources over the next several years, OSHA field personnel would find themselves forced to conduct less time-intensive, shorter inspections rather than the more complicated inspections. Under the current system, the only incentive for a compliance officer is to meet the inspection goals - there is no incentive for them to do the larger more complicated inspections. This is why in FY 2014, the agency intends to explore an inspection weighting approach in order to direct inspections to high hazard operations - including inspections of refineries and chemical plants, emerging chemical and health issues and workplace violence.
Right now, each inspection, whether it takes six months or six hours, is weighted the same. OSHA's current internal system does not take into account the wide array of resource intensive inspections performed by the agency. OSHA is not implementing the new weighting system this year, but is examining FY 2014 data to establish a solid baseline.
Citizen Drift Catchers Complete Spring Training
This article is provided by our friends at the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA). While aerial applicators around the country have been gearing up for the new season by calibrating their spray equipment at Operation S.A.F.E. clinics, citizen activists in Iowa and Minnesota have been preparing too - to be on the lookout for signs of off-target drift. Last month, the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) trained 30 newly minted "citizen drift catchers" on how to take air samples using an on-ground air monitoring system known as Drift Catcher. While low in numbers, these citizen drift catchers appear fervent in their desire to hold applicators "accountable" for the products they are hired to apply for their farmer customers. All applicators should take heed and exercise an extra degree of caution as they make their applications this year. NAAA made a point to remind its members to heed the PAASS motto, "Upon the Performance of Each Rests the Fate of All." Great advice for all!
Court Upholds OSHA's Position on General Duty Clause
In a two-to-one opinion, the D.C. Circuit denied SeaWorld's appeal of the decision of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission that SeaWorld violated the OSHA's general duty clause by permitting close contact between killer whales and trainers during shows at the company's Orlando, Florida theme park. OSHA cited SeaWorld for two violations of the general duty clause following an investigation into the death of a trainer who was pulled into a pool by a killer whale in February of 2010.
The courts have consistently upheld OSHA's position that killer whales pose a danger to employees who are not adequately protected, and further upheld the rights of workers to return home safe and healthy each day. Specifically, the court held that, "the nature of SeaWorld's workplace and the unusual nature of the hazard to its employees performing in close physical contact with killer whales, do not remove SeaWorld from its obligation under the General Duty Clause to protect its employees from recognized hazards."
DOT Finalizes Plan to Phase in Vehicle Rearview Cameras
On March 31st, DOT finalized a set of federal standards for rear visibility that will require all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds to have backup cameras by mid-2018. Congress called for the rules in 2008 after a spate of accidents in which parents driving cars or trucks backed over their young children, killing them. The rules will phase in over several years. Auto makers will be required to have compliant rearview systems in 10% of the vehicles they build from May 1, 2016 to May 1, 2017. That share rises to 40% for the next year and 100% starting on May 1, 2018. The rules require drivers to be able to see a 10-foot by 20-foot zone behind a vehicle. A camera system appears to be the only way for auto makers to comply with that requirement and separate standards for traits such as "image size."
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.