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Newsletter
Volume 128
July 1, 2014
Wanted!
We need the following equipment for training scenarios. The equipment doesn't have to work - just look like it does. Call Allen or email him a picture at allen@asmark.org
Sprayer Trailer (1)
Sprayer Trailer
Sprayer Trailer (1)
Dry Spreader
Sprayer Trailer (1)
Seed Treater
Sprayer Trailer (1)
Ammonia Toolbar
Sprayer Trailer (1)
Nurse Trailer
2014 National Safety School - Register Today!
The 36th annual National Agronomic, Environmental, Health & Safety School is being held on August 19 & 20, 2014 in Bloomington, Illinois at the Asmark Institute Agricenter. We encourage you to register early as this year's school is sure to fill up fast! An outstanding lineup of national speakers has been secured and with the recent events affecting our industry, it is now more important than ever to attend. Topics include information on the impact of the West Fertilizer incident on our industry, the future of ammonium nitrate, containment structure integrity, new revisions to the Worker Protection Standards and an update on the ResponsibleAg initiative. For further information, or to view the agenda or register, click here.
While in Bloomington that week, we recommend you stay an extra day to attend the Midwest AG Industries Expo (MAGIE) on August 20 & 21, 2014. It's truly one of the finest displays of "ride and buy" shows in the United States. For more information on registering for MAGIE, click here.
New SVA Launched
Soon you will see information nationally in the trade magazines announcing a new revised version of the Asmark Institute Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA). The original SVA was first published in 2003 and has served our industry well with more than 8,400 of the assessments having been completed. Building on what has been learned over the past ten years and drawing on the experience and expertise of more than 70 industry professionals, the new SVA has been expanded to provide more emphasis on DOT issues and additional layers of security that have been developed over the past decade. Retailers who complete the assessment will receive a list of recommended countermeasures to help offset their vulnerabilities, along with site-specific information required in preparing their DOT Security Plan. The countermeasures can be used to further hone security at the facility and for the transportation of hazardous materials.
Central to the Asmark Institute SVA methodology is the utilization of layers of protection, which are programmed into the model. This methodology has been determined to meet the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) security vulnerability assessment design criteria. The license for the SVA has been renewed with Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), who in turn will jointly promote it with its partners through the Agribusiness Security Working Group, comprised of ARA, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and CropLife America (CLA).
Clients of the Asmark Institute will also benefit as this service has now been included as part of the Lighthouse retainer program - meaning there will be no additional line item expense when they update their SVA.
ResponsibleAg Technical Committee Meets
The ResponsibleAg Technical Committee met on June 3rd at the offices of the Asmark Institute in Owensboro, KY. The committee oversees the development of the audit content, pre-qualification requirements for prospective auditors and other technical issues. Committee members include: Clark Capwell (The McGregor Company), Anne Cook (The Andersons), Randy Crowell (Tennessee Farmers Cooperative), Paul Derig (J.R. Simplot), Vance Dann (Southern States Cooperative), Shawn Lambert (Co-Alliance), Paul Baute (Grammer Industries), Alan Mahoney (Missouri Farmers Association), Joe Register (R.W. Griffin) and Gary Vogen (Yara). At the first meeting, the committee reviewed all aspects of the ResponsibleAg initiative and provided guidance on audit content and procedures. The committee is currently reviewing the draft audit content and participating in a live demonstration of the proposed audit-entry system. ResponsibleAg will be visible and will have designated representatives at industry gatherings including the Southwestern Fertilizer Conference held July 19-23 in San Antonio, Texas, and the MAGIE show, scheduled for August 20-21 in Bloomington, IL.
North Dakota Launches Webpage to Help Ammonia Facilities Comply with EPA Rules
North Dakota's Agriculture Department has created a webpage to help anhydrous ammonia dealers comply with EPA rules. The launch comes as the state agency prepares to begin inspections. The site provides guidance materials and tools such as the myRMP Suite of Retail Guidance Materials to help anhydrous facility managers better understand EPA's Risk Management Program and how they can comply. Earlier this year EPA granted authority to North Dakota's Agriculture Department to enforce the requirements in the state. Pesticide and fertilizer staff will begin conducting inspections and compliance audits of anhydrous facilities in July. Click here to access the new webpage.
Report, Hearing Calling for Leadership Change at Chemical Safety Board (CSB)
Chemical Safety Board Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso, coming under fire about CSB's whistleblower provisions, recently was called before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee. Asked whether he'd consider leaving his post, Moure-Eraso said, "My brain is fried. I don't want to have to think or talk about this anymore." The hearing follows an 84-page report from the committee detailing a toxic environment and mismanagement at the agency. According to the report, Chairman Moure-Eraso helped create a toxic work environment that resulted in the departure of at least nine experienced employees from the CSB, leaving investigations to drag on for years. Click here to read the full report.
CLA Responds to UC Davis and TFSP Reports
CropLife America recently noted the release of two questionable studies: one from the University of California, Davis which attempts to link proximity to pesticide applications with neurodevelopmental disorders (including autism) among children in a specific region of California; another in the form of a meta-analysis released by a Task Force on Systemic Pesticides (TFSP). The UC Davis study concludes that "Children of mothers who live near agricultural areas, or who are otherwise exposed to organophosphate, pyrethroid, or carbamate pesticides during gestation may be at increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders." The study authors assume that a single legal application of any pesticide can drift more than 1 km, resulting in exposure to a pregnant resident and autism or developmental delay among children. This assumption is unsupported and unfounded. CLA has been emphasizing the regulatory process by which pesticides are brought to market, and the variety of precautions that are in place to protect vulnerable populations, including expectant mothers and children. The UC Davis study was lambasted by the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) as "poorly conceived [and] poorly analyzed." Regarding the TFSP meta-analysis, CLA believes that the report draws inaccurate connections between systemic pesticides and pollinator health, and similarly questions its validity. We point to the multiple stressors that are involved in pollinator health, which have been confirmed by USDA, EPA and President Obama himself in the memorandum that he issued last week.
EPA Proposal on Water
A rule proposed recently by EPA outlines which bodies of water the agency would oversee under the Clean Water Act. EPA says it is necessary after recent court rulings to clarify the 1972 law. Farmers and many in the agricultural industry fear it amounts to nothing more than a land grab that could saddle them with higher costs and more regulatory red tape. Over the past six years a natural division between EPA and agriculture has been growing basically due to a lack of trust. The proposed water regulation, better known as the "Waters of the U.S." rule, is the latest measure that's symbolic of the growing fissure dividing the EPA and agriculture producers.
Despite assurances from EPA, farm groups contend the Waters of the U.S. rule would expand the scope of so-called "navigable waters" protected by the Clean Water Act to include not only rivers and lakes but ditches, stream beds and self-made ponds that only carry water when it rains. Farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, contend the EPA regulations such as the Waters of the U.S. rule lead to higher costs for producers, with some growers unable to swallow the added expenses. They argue the stringent regulations are creating a ripple effect that is damaging the long-term health of the agricultural industry.
Hours of Service Regulations Come Under Scrutiny
OOIDA is reporting the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is calling for a comprehensive study on the safety and operational impacts of the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. Agriculture has historically justified the need for an exemption from the HOS rules for the delivery of agricultural inputs from distribution points within a 150 air mile radius, by demonstrating a high level of safety. However, each time there is a highly publicized truck accident, driver hours come under scrutiny. Please help continue to defend the HOS exemption by remaining vigilant with regard to safety on the road when transporting agricultural inputs. The HOS exemption is critical to the needs of retailers and their farmer-customers in order to assure timely service during planting and harvesting seasons.
Texas No Longer Releasing Tier II Information
Fourteen months after an ammonium nitrate stockpile detonated in West, state officials say they no longer will release reports to the public on where the explosive fertilizer is being stored. The state attorney general has ruled that the Texas Homeland Security Act forbids the state's health agency from releasing inventory reports on the fertilizer because it could be used to make a bomb. The Texas Homeland Security Act prohibits the disclosure of information that is "more than likely" to assist in the creation of a weapon of mass destruction. The inventory reports, known as "Tier 2" reports, are required to be available to the public by the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986. After the West disaster on April 17, 2013, Tier 2 databases from the Department of State Health Services allowed the Tribune-Herald and other news media to map and analyze other industrial chemical hazards in Texas. DSHS no longer is releasing those databases, and agency officials said they will seek an attorney general ruling on all future requests for Tier 2 reports, a process that typically takes a month or more.
OSHA: Can you hear me now?
A well-fitted earplug or earmuff is enough to protect workers against noise exposure in most industrial environments today. However, when noise exposure exceeds the capabilities of traditional hearing protection, employers need to take special measures. In environments where intensely loud noise can't be controlled at the source, it might be necessary for workers to wear earplugs and earmuffs at the same time - often referred to as "dual hearing protection" or "double hearing protection." Typically, dual hearing protection only is appropriate for extreme situations, when noise exposures in the workplace exceed 105 dBA time-weighted average (TWA). Under 30 CFR Part 62, MSHA requires dual protection in such circumstances. NIOSH supports a more conservative approach, recommending a combination of earplugs and earmuffs for exposures over 100 dBA TWA.
Five Companies Cited After Temporary Worker Fatality
Last December, a temporary worker died from injuries sustained after he was caught in a conveyor system and crushed while performing sorting operations at an Amazon fulfillment center in Avenel, N.J. Following an investigation, OSHA cited five companies for serious violations. A third-party logistics provider based in Pittsburgh was contracted by Amazon to direct temporary employees from four staffing agencies involved in sorting operations. The contractor was cited for one serious violation for not certifying that a hazard assessment of the facility had been conducted before assigning employees to work. The four temporary staffing agencies were each cited by OSHA.
DataQ Adjudication Impacts Use of Roadside Inspection Data
DOT has proposed changes to its Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) to allow the states to reflect the results of adjudicated citations related to roadside inspection violation data collected in MCMIS. Individuals must submit certified documentation of adjudication results through a Request for Data Review (RDR) in DOT's "DataQs" system to initiate this process. MCMIS is being modified to accept adjudication results showing that a citation was dismissed or resulted in a finding of not guilty; resulted in a conviction of a different or lesser charge; or resulted in conviction of the original charge. The adjudication results will impact the use of roadside inspection violation data in other DOT data systems. These changes are intended to improve roadside inspection data quality.
State law enforcement officials routinely conduct roadside inspections documenting DOT violations. These law enforcement officials, at their discretion, may issue citations for the violations recorded on the roadside inspection report. States are responsible for entering roadside inspection and violation data into SafetyNet, a database management system that allows entry, access, analysis and reporting of data from driver/vehicle inspections, crashes, investigations, assignments and complaints.
DataQs is an online system that provides an electronic means for drivers and motor carriers to submit concerns about the accuracy of crash, inspection and violation data in DOT's data systems. When a request for an RDR is filed, the DataQs system automatically forwards the request to the appropriate federal or state office for processing and resolution. A citation that has been resolved through a judicial or administrative process, regardless of outcome, is considered to be adjudicated. DOT believes these changes will:
  • provide a uniform and orderly process to incorporate recording adjudicated citations through DataQs under the state's MCSAP Commercial Vehicle Safety Plans and budgets;
  • provide an effective process to ensure system effectiveness and data quality; and
  • reduce the cost of applying and implementing these changes across the agency and the states.
Failure to Keep Proper Fuel Tax Records Can be Costly
This article is made possible by J.J. Keller & Associates, a valued partner of the Asmark Institute for 25 years. Our thanks to J.J. Keller for their support over the years and for the use of this article.
In an International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) audit, your records are your only backup to what you've reported on the quarterly returns. If certain records are missing or incomplete, auditors are able to estimate operations, recalculate fuel taxes and assess penalties and interest. Don't give the auditor this opportunity! Avoid these common recordkeeping errors:
  • Failing to keep all records for four years. IFTA requires licensees to keep records on which the fuel tax returns are based for four years from the tax return due date or filing date, whichever is later. If you're combining hours of service logs with trip reports, be aware that the logs only need to be kept for six months, while the trip reports must be kept for four years. Ensure you're keeping the necessary records for the full four-year period.
  • Failing to keep track of in-jurisdiction miles. Carriers often think that the miles within their base jurisdiction are not counted as taxable miles. The reality is that these miles are not exempt from tax and must be tracked and reported.
  • Skipping out on the monthly summaries. IFTA requires licensees to keep recaps or summaries of each vehicle's operations throughout the month. Not only are the monthly summaries required, they can also help you in an audit. If your summaries accurately match the vehicle operations, the auditor may be more inclined to accept your records and may not see the need to dig deeper.
  • Throwing out unused decals from previous tax years. Many wonder why they would need to keep old, unused decals from previous years considering that the decals serve no purpose once the tax year is over. However, due to fraud, jurisdictions are now keeping an eye on unused decals. The expectation is that you must store unused decals in a secure location and keep them for the four-year record retention period. If they're missing, some jurisdictions will estimate operations under those decals or hit you with a price-per-decal assessment.
DOT Proposes New Anti-coercion Rules
Newly proposed regulations would prohibit motor carriers, shippers and receivers from pressuring drivers into operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in violation of federal safety regulations. The proposal from DOT includes procedures for drivers to report incidents of coercion to the agency, and the steps the agency would have to take in response. "Drivers who object that they must comply with the FMCSRs are sometimes told to get the job done despite the restrictions imposed by the safety regulations," the FMCSA wrote. "The consequences of their refusal to do so are either stated explicitly or implied in unmistakable terms: loss of a job, denial of subsequent loads, reduced payment, denied access to the best trips, etc."
The proposal would add a new section 390.6(a)(1) to prohibit motor carriers, shippers, receivers and transportation intermediaries from threatening drivers with loss of work or other economic opportunities for refusing to operate a CMV under circumstances that those entities "knew, or should have known," would require the driver to violate federal safety or commercial regulations.
Transportation intermediaries include brokers, freight forwarders, travel agents and similar entities. The prohibition on coercion would also apply to parties that ship, receive or arrange transportation of hazardous materials in interstate or intrastate commerce. In cases of coercion, the FMCSA could impose a civil penalty of up to $11,000 per offense. In addition, the agency is authorized to suspend, amend or revoke the operating authority registration of a for-hire motor carrier, broker or freight forwarder for acts of driver coercion. The anti-coercion rule was required by Congress in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).
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.
Wanted!
We need the following equipment for training scenarios. The equipment doesn't have to work - just look like it does. Call Allen or email him a picture at allen@asmark.org
Sprayer Trailer (1)
Sprayer Trailer
Sprayer Trailer (1)
Dry Spreader
Sprayer Trailer (1)
Seed Treater
Sprayer Trailer (1)
Ammonia Toolbar
Sprayer Trailer (1)
Nurse Trailer
2014 National Safety School - Register Today!
The 36th annual National Agronomic, Environmental, Health & Safety School is being held on August 19 & 20, 2014 in Bloomington, Illinois at the Asmark Institute Agricenter. We encourage you to register early as this year's school is sure to fill up fast! An outstanding lineup of national speakers has been secured and with the recent events affecting our industry, it is now more important than ever to attend. Topics include information on the impact of the West Fertilizer incident on our industry, the future of ammonium nitrate, containment structure integrity, new revisions to the Worker Protection Standards and an update on the ResponsibleAg initiative. For further information, or to view the agenda or register, click here.
While in Bloomington that week, we recommend you stay an extra day to attend the Midwest AG Industries Expo (MAGIE) on August 20 & 21, 2014. It's truly one of the finest displays of "ride and buy" shows in the United States. For more information on registering for MAGIE, click here.
New SVA Launched
Soon you will see information nationally in the trade magazines announcing a new revised version of the Asmark Institute Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA). The original SVA was first published in 2003 and has served our industry well with more than 8,400 of the assessments having been completed. Building on what has been learned over the past ten years and drawing on the experience and expertise of more than 70 industry professionals, the new SVA has been expanded to provide more emphasis on DOT issues and additional layers of security that have been developed over the past decade. Retailers who complete the assessment will receive a list of recommended countermeasures to help offset their vulnerabilities, along with site-specific information required in preparing their DOT Security Plan. The countermeasures can be used to further hone security at the facility and for the transportation of hazardous materials.
Central to the Asmark Institute SVA methodology is the utilization of layers of protection, which are programmed into the model. This methodology has been determined to meet the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) security vulnerability assessment design criteria. The license for the SVA has been renewed with Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), who in turn will jointly promote it with its partners through the Agribusiness Security Working Group, comprised of ARA, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and CropLife America (CLA).
Clients of the Asmark Institute will also benefit as this service has now been included as part of the Lighthouse retainer program - meaning there will be no additional line item expense when they update their SVA.
ResponsibleAg Technical Committee Meets
The ResponsibleAg Technical Committee met on June 3rd at the offices of the Asmark Institute in Owensboro, KY. The committee oversees the development of the audit content, pre-qualification requirements for prospective auditors and other technical issues. Committee members include: Clark Capwell (The McGregor Company), Anne Cook (The Andersons), Randy Crowell (Tennessee Farmers Cooperative), Paul Derig (J.R. Simplot), Vance Dann (Southern States Cooperative), Shawn Lambert (Co-Alliance), Paul Baute (Grammer Industries), Alan Mahoney (Missouri Farmers Association), Joe Register (R.W. Griffin) and Gary Vogen (Yara). At the first meeting, the committee reviewed all aspects of the ResponsibleAg initiative and provided guidance on audit content and procedures. The committee is currently reviewing the draft audit content and participating in a live demonstration of the proposed audit-entry system. ResponsibleAg will be visible and will have designated representatives at industry gatherings including the Southwestern Fertilizer Conference held July 19-23 in San Antonio, Texas, and the MAGIE show, scheduled for August 20-21 in Bloomington, IL.
North Dakota Launches Webpage to Help Ammonia Facilities Comply with EPA Rules
North Dakota's Agriculture Department has created a webpage to help anhydrous ammonia dealers comply with EPA rules. The launch comes as the state agency prepares to begin inspections. The site provides guidance materials and tools such as the myRMP Suite of Retail Guidance Materials to help anhydrous facility managers better understand EPA's Risk Management Program and how they can comply. Earlier this year EPA granted authority to North Dakota's Agriculture Department to enforce the requirements in the state. Pesticide and fertilizer staff will begin conducting inspections and compliance audits of anhydrous facilities in July. Click here to access the new webpage.
Report, Hearing Calling for Leadership Change at Chemical Safety Board (CSB)
Chemical Safety Board Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso, coming under fire about CSB's whistleblower provisions, recently was called before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee. Asked whether he'd consider leaving his post, Moure-Eraso said, "My brain is fried. I don't want to have to think or talk about this anymore." The hearing follows an 84-page report from the committee detailing a toxic environment and mismanagement at the agency. According to the report, Chairman Moure-Eraso helped create a toxic work environment that resulted in the departure of at least nine experienced employees from the CSB, leaving investigations to drag on for years. Click here to read the full report.
CLA Responds to UC Davis and TFSP Reports
CropLife America recently noted the release of two questionable studies: one from the University of California, Davis which attempts to link proximity to pesticide applications with neurodevelopmental disorders (including autism) among children in a specific region of California; another in the form of a meta-analysis released by a Task Force on Systemic Pesticides (TFSP). The UC Davis study concludes that "Children of mothers who live near agricultural areas, or who are otherwise exposed to organophosphate, pyrethroid, or carbamate pesticides during gestation may be at increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders." The study authors assume that a single legal application of any pesticide can drift more than 1 km, resulting in exposure to a pregnant resident and autism or developmental delay among children. This assumption is unsupported and unfounded. CLA has been emphasizing the regulatory process by which pesticides are brought to market, and the variety of precautions that are in place to protect vulnerable populations, including expectant mothers and children. The UC Davis study was lambasted by the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) as "poorly conceived [and] poorly analyzed." Regarding the TFSP meta-analysis, CLA believes that the report draws inaccurate connections between systemic pesticides and pollinator health, and similarly questions its validity. We point to the multiple stressors that are involved in pollinator health, which have been confirmed by USDA, EPA and President Obama himself in the memorandum that he issued last week.
EPA Proposal on Water
A rule proposed recently by EPA outlines which bodies of water the agency would oversee under the Clean Water Act. EPA says it is necessary after recent court rulings to clarify the 1972 law. Farmers and many in the agricultural industry fear it amounts to nothing more than a land grab that could saddle them with higher costs and more regulatory red tape. Over the past six years a natural division between EPA and agriculture has been growing basically due to a lack of trust. The proposed water regulation, better known as the "Waters of the U.S." rule, is the latest measure that's symbolic of the growing fissure dividing the EPA and agriculture producers.
Despite assurances from EPA, farm groups contend the Waters of the U.S. rule would expand the scope of so-called "navigable waters" protected by the Clean Water Act to include not only rivers and lakes but ditches, stream beds and self-made ponds that only carry water when it rains. Farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, contend the EPA regulations such as the Waters of the U.S. rule lead to higher costs for producers, with some growers unable to swallow the added expenses. They argue the stringent regulations are creating a ripple effect that is damaging the long-term health of the agricultural industry.
Hours of Service Regulations Come Under Scrutiny
OOIDA is reporting the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is calling for a comprehensive study on the safety and operational impacts of the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. Agriculture has historically justified the need for an exemption from the HOS rules for the delivery of agricultural inputs from distribution points within a 150 air mile radius, by demonstrating a high level of safety. However, each time there is a highly publicized truck accident, driver hours come under scrutiny. Please help continue to defend the HOS exemption by remaining vigilant with regard to safety on the road when transporting agricultural inputs. The HOS exemption is critical to the needs of retailers and their farmer-customers in order to assure timely service during planting and harvesting seasons.
Texas No Longer Releasing Tier II Information
Fourteen months after an ammonium nitrate stockpile detonated in West, state officials say they no longer will release reports to the public on where the explosive fertilizer is being stored. The state attorney general has ruled that the Texas Homeland Security Act forbids the state's health agency from releasing inventory reports on the fertilizer because it could be used to make a bomb. The Texas Homeland Security Act prohibits the disclosure of information that is "more than likely" to assist in the creation of a weapon of mass destruction. The inventory reports, known as "Tier 2" reports, are required to be available to the public by the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986. After the West disaster on April 17, 2013, Tier 2 databases from the Department of State Health Services allowed the Tribune-Herald and other news media to map and analyze other industrial chemical hazards in Texas. DSHS no longer is releasing those databases, and agency officials said they will seek an attorney general ruling on all future requests for Tier 2 reports, a process that typically takes a month or more.
OSHA: Can you hear me now?
A well-fitted earplug or earmuff is enough to protect workers against noise exposure in most industrial environments today. However, when noise exposure exceeds the capabilities of traditional hearing protection, employers need to take special measures. In environments where intensely loud noise can't be controlled at the source, it might be necessary for workers to wear earplugs and earmuffs at the same time - often referred to as "dual hearing protection" or "double hearing protection." Typically, dual hearing protection only is appropriate for extreme situations, when noise exposures in the workplace exceed 105 dBA time-weighted average (TWA). Under 30 CFR Part 62, MSHA requires dual protection in such circumstances. NIOSH supports a more conservative approach, recommending a combination of earplugs and earmuffs for exposures over 100 dBA TWA.
Five Companies Cited After Temporary Worker Fatality
Last December, a temporary worker died from injuries sustained after he was caught in a conveyor system and crushed while performing sorting operations at an Amazon fulfillment center in Avenel, N.J. Following an investigation, OSHA cited five companies for serious violations. A third-party logistics provider based in Pittsburgh was contracted by Amazon to direct temporary employees from four staffing agencies involved in sorting operations. The contractor was cited for one serious violation for not certifying that a hazard assessment of the facility had been conducted before assigning employees to work. The four temporary staffing agencies were each cited by OSHA.
DataQ Adjudication Impacts Use of Roadside Inspection Data
DOT has proposed changes to its Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) to allow the states to reflect the results of adjudicated citations related to roadside inspection violation data collected in MCMIS. Individuals must submit certified documentation of adjudication results through a Request for Data Review (RDR) in DOT's "DataQs" system to initiate this process. MCMIS is being modified to accept adjudication results showing that a citation was dismissed or resulted in a finding of not guilty; resulted in a conviction of a different or lesser charge; or resulted in conviction of the original charge. The adjudication results will impact the use of roadside inspection violation data in other DOT data systems. These changes are intended to improve roadside inspection data quality.
State law enforcement officials routinely conduct roadside inspections documenting DOT violations. These law enforcement officials, at their discretion, may issue citations for the violations recorded on the roadside inspection report. States are responsible for entering roadside inspection and violation data into SafetyNet, a database management system that allows entry, access, analysis and reporting of data from driver/vehicle inspections, crashes, investigations, assignments and complaints.
DataQs is an online system that provides an electronic means for drivers and motor carriers to submit concerns about the accuracy of crash, inspection and violation data in DOT's data systems. When a request for an RDR is filed, the DataQs system automatically forwards the request to the appropriate federal or state office for processing and resolution. A citation that has been resolved through a judicial or administrative process, regardless of outcome, is considered to be adjudicated. DOT believes these changes will:
  • provide a uniform and orderly process to incorporate recording adjudicated citations through DataQs under the state's MCSAP Commercial Vehicle Safety Plans and budgets;
  • provide an effective process to ensure system effectiveness and data quality; and
  • reduce the cost of applying and implementing these changes across the agency and the states.
Failure to Keep Proper Fuel Tax Records Can be Costly
This article is made possible by J.J. Keller & Associates, a valued partner of the Asmark Institute for 25 years. Our thanks to J.J. Keller for their support over the years and for the use of this article.
In an International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) audit, your records are your only backup to what you've reported on the quarterly returns. If certain records are missing or incomplete, auditors are able to estimate operations, recalculate fuel taxes and assess penalties and interest. Don't give the auditor this opportunity! Avoid these common recordkeeping errors:
  • Failing to keep all records for four years. IFTA requires licensees to keep records on which the fuel tax returns are based for four years from the tax return due date or filing date, whichever is later. If you're combining hours of service logs with trip reports, be aware that the logs only need to be kept for six months, while the trip reports must be kept for four years. Ensure you're keeping the necessary records for the full four-year period.
  • Failing to keep track of in-jurisdiction miles. Carriers often think that the miles within their base jurisdiction are not counted as taxable miles. The reality is that these miles are not exempt from tax and must be tracked and reported.
  • Skipping out on the monthly summaries. IFTA requires licensees to keep recaps or summaries of each vehicle's operations throughout the month. Not only are the monthly summaries required, they can also help you in an audit. If your summaries accurately match the vehicle operations, the auditor may be more inclined to accept your records and may not see the need to dig deeper.
  • Throwing out unused decals from previous tax years. Many wonder why they would need to keep old, unused decals from previous years considering that the decals serve no purpose once the tax year is over. However, due to fraud, jurisdictions are now keeping an eye on unused decals. The expectation is that you must store unused decals in a secure location and keep them for the four-year record retention period. If they're missing, some jurisdictions will estimate operations under those decals or hit you with a price-per-decal assessment.
DOT Proposes New Anti-coercion Rules
Newly proposed regulations would prohibit motor carriers, shippers and receivers from pressuring drivers into operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in violation of federal safety regulations. The proposal from DOT includes procedures for drivers to report incidents of coercion to the agency, and the steps the agency would have to take in response. "Drivers who object that they must comply with the FMCSRs are sometimes told to get the job done despite the restrictions imposed by the safety regulations," the FMCSA wrote. "The consequences of their refusal to do so are either stated explicitly or implied in unmistakable terms: loss of a job, denial of subsequent loads, reduced payment, denied access to the best trips, etc."
The proposal would add a new section 390.6(a)(1) to prohibit motor carriers, shippers, receivers and transportation intermediaries from threatening drivers with loss of work or other economic opportunities for refusing to operate a CMV under circumstances that those entities "knew, or should have known," would require the driver to violate federal safety or commercial regulations.
Transportation intermediaries include brokers, freight forwarders, travel agents and similar entities. The prohibition on coercion would also apply to parties that ship, receive or arrange transportation of hazardous materials in interstate or intrastate commerce. In cases of coercion, the FMCSA could impose a civil penalty of up to $11,000 per offense. In addition, the agency is authorized to suspend, amend or revoke the operating authority registration of a for-hire motor carrier, broker or freight forwarder for acts of driver coercion. The anti-coercion rule was required by Congress in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).
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.