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Newsletter
Volume 134
January 2, 2015
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 2015! The new year promises to be another special one for the Asmark Institute as it marks our 26th year of service and innovation. We appreciate our relationship and the opportunity to work with you in 2015!
Custom Application Vehicles: Safety on the Road
Based on the comments received so far, this new training program is a hit! Asmark Institute clients will find this new training program to be part of their set of DVDs. CAV: Safety on the Road was developed in cooperation with the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA). ARA is offering copies of the new training program as a membership service for $49 (member price) and $99 (non-member price) plus shipping and handling. Orders can be placed on ARA's website.
New DVD Number 5 Ships
By now UPS should have delivered your new DVD Number 5. If you haven't completed the exchange, please do it by the January 16th deadline. Remember to return your outdated DVD in the provided UPS Return Service packaging so it can be tracked.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!
ResponsibleAg Registration is Open
The ResponsibleAg Certification Program began registering participants on Monday, December 8, 2014. We encourage you to register your facilities and support the program. The following information will help you in understanding more about the mission of ResponsibleAg:
ResponsibleAg anticipates facility assessments will begin in 2015 as the supply of credentialed auditors becomes available and the audit schedules are announced. ResponsibleAg allows you to select a credentialed auditor to perform your assessment. Please don't hesitate to contact us at the Asmark Institute or the ResponsibleAg Helpdesk at 270-683-6777 or by E-mail at helpdesk@responsibleag.org if you have questions or need additional information.
ResponsibleAg Course Schedule Announced
Registration is also open for the 2015 ResponsibleAg auditor training courses. The next course will be held February 10-12, 2015. Courses will be offered about once a month through the end of the year. Click here to register. If you are interested in becoming a ResponsibleAg auditor, then don't delay, register today! Classes are limited in size and number and offered on a first-come first-serve basis.
Reminder: New OSHA reporting requirements went into effect January 1st
Starting January 1, 2015, all employers must report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding out about the incident. Employers can report an incident by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), calling your nearest OSHA area office, during normal business hours (http://www.osha.gov/html/RAmap.html) or online at http://www.osha.gov/report_online.
SARA Tier II Report - Heads Up!
Several State Emergency Response Commissions advise they have received questions from people who installed the new Tier2Submit2014 program and received a "Win32" error message. Tier2Submit2014 requires Windows 7 (Service Pack 1), Windows 8, or Windows 8.1. Operating systems not listed here have not been tested and are not supported. They advise if you receive a "Win32" error message to determine what operating system is being used. They believe the error message is prompted by using Windows XP which is no longer supported by Microsoft. The only fix for this is to upgrade the operating system or use a different computer.
No-Defect Driver Vehicle Inspection Report Rule - Results in Paperwork Reduction
Effective December 18, 2014, DOT eliminated the requirement for written Daily Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs), commonly known as "post trips" when no safety defects or mechanical deficiencies are identified, resulting in eliminating about 95% of the DVIRs required. The rule DOES NOT change a commercial motor vehicle driver's obligation to record/write the daily DVIRs when there are vehicle defects and deficiencies. This process entails both pre- and post-trip daily inspections of their vehicles to identify safety defects, mechanical deficiencies and maintenance concerns. DOT has a prescribed list of items to check. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that, effective December 18, 2014, truck drivers will no longer have to comply with a burdensome daily paperwork requirement, saving the trucking industry an estimated $1.7 billion annually without compromising safety.
ANSI K61.1 Updated - Now Known as CGA 2.1-2014
The long-awaited update of the ANSI K61.1 Requirements for the Storage and Handling of Anhydrous Ammonia is published by the Compressed Gas Association. The new edition was published as the CGA 2.1-2014 edition. The new edition, which is number six in the history of the standard, is considered the recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices associated with the safe storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia. The last time this standard was updated was in 1999.
EPA advises all facilities, including retailers and farmers, that store or handle anhydrous ammonia, they have a general duty to work toward conformance the most current version of these requirements. EPA considers these requirements the basis for General Duty Clause compliance under the Clean Air Act, which governs the Risk Management Program (RMP). Facilities with anhydrous ammonia should compare their existing practices to the most current requirements or specifications, which in this case would be the new CGA 2.1-2014. The latest revision of myRMP Suite of Guidance Materials, developed cooperatively by The Fertilizer Institute, the Asmark Institute and U.S. EPA, includes these latest changes and may be accessed free of charge. Click here to purchase a copy of the new standard. The cost varies depending on membership to either organization and/or if a paper or electronic copy is purchased.
Boxer Chides OSHA, EPA Over Chemical Explosion Response
According to a report on Politico's website, the final hearing for Senator Barbara Boxer as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Works and the Environment, was quite spirited. Boxer "excoriated OSHA and EPA for their responses to the April 2013 chemical explosion at the West Fertilizer Company's plant in West, Texas," according to the report and transcripts.
At the hearing, Boxer confronted OSHA Director Dr. David Michaels and EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus over what she characterized as a slow response to an executive order to improve chemical facility safety that President Barack Obama issued four months after the Texas explosion. "This is unacceptable" exclaimed Boxer as she pointed to two charts showing that the federal government failed to complete four of the 15 tasks by the due dates ordered by Obama. In the days since the explosion, she said, "every other day there was another accident. This is absolutely outrageous."
None of the directives issued by Obama thus far require additional regulations. Instead, they called for better communication among government agencies and for study to examine how existing regulations might be improved. Boxer repeatedly asked Michaels and Stanislaus to supply a date when the tasks requested by Obama would be completed. "I can't tell when we will be able to," Michaels said.
"Wait a minute," Boxer replied. "The president issued an executive order with a deadline, and you are ignoring that, so then you are not following the law?" "We are on target to meet our deadlines within our system," Michaels said. "Well, I don't know what the heck your deadlines are - I need it in writing," Boxer said. Michaels and Stanislaus pledged to follow up with Boxer, but she will no longer be committee chairman next month when the new Republican majority takes over. Senator David Vitter is slated to become the next chairman.
Hours of Service Relief Passes Congress
The Omnibus Appropriations bill, officially titled the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, provides relief from the two new restrictions of the hours of service restart rule. Specifically, the legislation suspends the requirement that all qualifying restarts contain two consecutive periods of time between 1 am and 5 am, and that it can only be used once every 168 hours (or seven days). In other words, the restart rule reverts back to the simple 34 hour restart in effect from 2003 to June 2013. Only part of the hours-of-service regulations that change involves the voluntary 34-hour-restart. The rest of the rules stay intact just as they were before the passage of the mega government funding bill into law mid-December. The 30-minute mandatory rest break was not eliminated and the 14-hour on-duty clock remains and it cannot be stopped.
USDA Releases 2013 Annual Summary for Pesticide Data Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently posted data from the 2013 Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary. The summary confirms that overall pesticide chemical residues found on the foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by EPA and do not pose a safety concern. This information, along with an explanatory guide for consumers, can be found at http://www.ams.usda.gov/pdp.
The 2013 summary shows that over 99 percent of the products sampled through PDP had residues below the EPA tolerances. Residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in 0.23 percent of the samples tested. The PDP pesticide residue results are reported to FDA and EPA through monthly reports. In instances where a PDP finding is extraordinary and may pose a safety risk, FDA and EPA are immediately notified. EPA has determined the extremely low levels of those residues are not a food safety risk, and the presence of such residues does not pose a safety concern.
Each year, USDA and EPA work together to identify foods to be tested on a rotating basis. In 2013, surveys were conducted on a variety of foods including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, infant formula, butter, salmon, groundwater and drinking water. AMS partners with cooperating state agencies to collect and analyze pesticide chemical residue levels on selected foods. EPA uses data from PDP to enhance its programs for food safety and help evaluate dietary exposure to pesticides.
Decline in Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Continues
The Bureau of Labor Statistics published their annual report on workplace injuries and illnesses recently, which stated that three million workers sustained nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2013. Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor, issued a statement on the report. "We are encouraged that the rates continue to decline over the past few years, but we cannot ignore those three million workers. The severity of their injuries and illnesses varies widely; some are amputees, some suffer back injuries, while others have to struggle for each breath. Work injuries can instantly pull the rug out from a family striving for a good middle-class life," Michaels said.
OSHA Drops Dust Rule
While industry fought for changes and delays in OSHA's proposed update of its hazardous dust rule, the agency delivered industry a major holiday gift when OSHA said it's pretty much walking away from the rulemaking. In November, OSHA quietly said it was putting the long-delayed rulemaking on a list of "long-term projects," planning no action for at least a year. The agency now says it's going to further study the impact of any new dust regulations on small businesses during 2016, meaning for all intents and purposes the proposed rulemaking is dead, at least during the Obama Administration.
IRS Releases Standard Mileage Rates for 2015
IRS has issued the 2015 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, 2015, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck will be 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (up from 56 cents in 2014), 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (down half a cent from 2014), and 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (unchanged).
Most Quoteworthy: "Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future." - Walt Disney, innovative animator and entrepreneur that created Mickey Mouse and went on to win 22 Academy awards during his lifetime. Born on December 5, 1901, in Hermosa, Illinois, he and his brother Roy co-founded Walt Disney Productions, which became one of the best-known motion-picture production companies in the world.
2015 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 2015! The new year promises to be another special one for the Asmark Institute as it marks our 26th year of service and innovation. We appreciate our relationship and the opportunity to work with you in 2015!
Custom Application Vehicles: Safety on the Road
Based on the comments received so far, this new training program is a hit! Asmark Institute clients will find this new training program to be part of their set of DVDs. CAV: Safety on the Road was developed in cooperation with the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA). ARA is offering copies of the new training program as a membership service for $49 (member price) and $99 (non-member price) plus shipping and handling. Orders can be placed on ARA's website.
New DVD Number 5 Ships
By now UPS should have delivered your new DVD Number 5. If you haven't completed the exchange, please do it by the January 16th deadline. 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!
ResponsibleAg Registration is Open
The ResponsibleAg Certification Program began registering participants on Monday, December 8, 2014. We encourage you to register your facilities and support the program. The following information will help you in understanding more about the mission of ResponsibleAg:
ResponsibleAg anticipates facility assessments will begin in 2015 as the supply of credentialed auditors becomes available and the audit schedules are announced. ResponsibleAg allows you to select a credentialed auditor to perform your assessment. Please don't hesitate to contact us at the Asmark Institute or the ResponsibleAg Helpdesk at 270-683-6777 or by E-mail at helpdesk@responsibleag.org if you have questions or need additional information.
ResponsibleAg Course Schedule Announced
Registration is also open for the 2015 ResponsibleAg auditor training courses. The next course will be held February 10-12, 2015. Courses will be offered about once a month through the end of the year. Click here to register. If you are interested in becoming a ResponsibleAg auditor, then don't delay, register today! Classes are limited in size and number and offered on a first-come first-serve basis.
Reminder: New OSHA reporting requirements went into effect January 1st
Starting January 1, 2015, all employers must report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding out about the incident. Employers can report an incident by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), calling your nearest OSHA area office, during normal business hours (http://www.osha.gov/html/RAmap.html) or online at http://www.osha.gov/report_online.
SARA Tier II Report - Heads Up!
Several State Emergency Response Commissions advise they have received questions from people who installed the new Tier2Submit2014 program and received a "Win32" error message. Tier2Submit2014 requires Windows 7 (Service Pack 1), Windows 8, or Windows 8.1. Operating systems not listed here have not been tested and are not supported. They advise if you receive a "Win32" error message to determine what operating system is being used. They believe the error message is prompted by using Windows XP which is no longer supported by Microsoft. The only fix for this is to upgrade the operating system or use a different computer.
No-Defect Driver Vehicle Inspection Report Rule - Results in Paperwork Reduction
Effective December 18, 2014, DOT eliminated the requirement for written Daily Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs), commonly known as "post trips" when no safety defects or mechanical deficiencies are identified, resulting in eliminating about 95% of the DVIRs required. The rule DOES NOT change a commercial motor vehicle driver's obligation to record/write the daily DVIRs when there are vehicle defects and deficiencies. This process entails both pre- and post-trip daily inspections of their vehicles to identify safety defects, mechanical deficiencies and maintenance concerns. DOT has a prescribed list of items to check. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that, effective December 18, 2014, truck drivers will no longer have to comply with a burdensome daily paperwork requirement, saving the trucking industry an estimated $1.7 billion annually without compromising safety.
ANSI K61.1 Updated - Now Known as CGA 2.1-2014
The long-awaited update of the ANSI K61.1 Requirements for the Storage and Handling of Anhydrous Ammonia is published by the Compressed Gas Association. The new edition was published as the CGA 2.1-2014 edition. The new edition, which is number six in the history of the standard, is considered the recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices associated with the safe storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia. The last time this standard was updated was in 1999.
EPA advises all facilities, including retailers and farmers, that store or handle anhydrous ammonia, they have a general duty to work toward conformance the most current version of these requirements. EPA considers these requirements the basis for General Duty Clause compliance under the Clean Air Act, which governs the Risk Management Program (RMP). Facilities with anhydrous ammonia should compare their existing practices to the most current requirements or specifications, which in this case would be the new CGA 2.1-2014. The latest revision of myRMP Suite of Guidance Materials, developed cooperatively by The Fertilizer Institute, the Asmark Institute and U.S. EPA, includes these latest changes and may be accessed free of charge. Click here to purchase a copy of the new standard. The cost varies depending on membership to either organization and/or if a paper or electronic copy is purchased.
Boxer Chides OSHA, EPA Over Chemical Explosion Response
According to a report on Politico's website, the final hearing for Senator Barbara Boxer as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Works and the Environment, was quite spirited. Boxer "excoriated OSHA and EPA for their responses to the April 2013 chemical explosion at the West Fertilizer Company's plant in West, Texas," according to the report and transcripts.
At the hearing, Boxer confronted OSHA Director Dr. David Michaels and EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus over what she characterized as a slow response to an executive order to improve chemical facility safety that President Barack Obama issued four months after the Texas explosion. "This is unacceptable" exclaimed Boxer as she pointed to two charts showing that the federal government failed to complete four of the 15 tasks by the due dates ordered by Obama. In the days since the explosion, she said, "every other day there was another accident. This is absolutely outrageous."
None of the directives issued by Obama thus far require additional regulations. Instead, they called for better communication among government agencies and for study to examine how existing regulations might be improved. Boxer repeatedly asked Michaels and Stanislaus to supply a date when the tasks requested by Obama would be completed. "I can't tell when we will be able to," Michaels said.
"Wait a minute," Boxer replied. "The president issued an executive order with a deadline, and you are ignoring that, so then you are not following the law?" "We are on target to meet our deadlines within our system," Michaels said. "Well, I don't know what the heck your deadlines are - I need it in writing," Boxer said. Michaels and Stanislaus pledged to follow up with Boxer, but she will no longer be committee chairman next month when the new Republican majority takes over. Senator David Vitter is slated to become the next chairman.
Hours of Service Relief Passes Congress
The Omnibus Appropriations bill, officially titled the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, provides relief from the two new restrictions of the hours of service restart rule. Specifically, the legislation suspends the requirement that all qualifying restarts contain two consecutive periods of time between 1 am and 5 am, and that it can only be used once every 168 hours (or seven days). In other words, the restart rule reverts back to the simple 34 hour restart in effect from 2003 to June 2013. Only part of the hours-of-service regulations that change involves the voluntary 34-hour-restart. The rest of the rules stay intact just as they were before the passage of the mega government funding bill into law mid-December. The 30-minute mandatory rest break was not eliminated and the 14-hour on-duty clock remains and it cannot be stopped.
USDA Releases 2013 Annual Summary for Pesticide Data Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently posted data from the 2013 Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary. The summary confirms that overall pesticide chemical residues found on the foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by EPA and do not pose a safety concern. This information, along with an explanatory guide for consumers, can be found at http://www.ams.usda.gov/pdp.
The 2013 summary shows that over 99 percent of the products sampled through PDP had residues below the EPA tolerances. Residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in 0.23 percent of the samples tested. The PDP pesticide residue results are reported to FDA and EPA through monthly reports. In instances where a PDP finding is extraordinary and may pose a safety risk, FDA and EPA are immediately notified. EPA has determined the extremely low levels of those residues are not a food safety risk, and the presence of such residues does not pose a safety concern.
Each year, USDA and EPA work together to identify foods to be tested on a rotating basis. In 2013, surveys were conducted on a variety of foods including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, infant formula, butter, salmon, groundwater and drinking water. AMS partners with cooperating state agencies to collect and analyze pesticide chemical residue levels on selected foods. EPA uses data from PDP to enhance its programs for food safety and help evaluate dietary exposure to pesticides.
Decline in Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Continues
The Bureau of Labor Statistics published their annual report on workplace injuries and illnesses recently, which stated that three million workers sustained nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2013. Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor, issued a statement on the report. "We are encouraged that the rates continue to decline over the past few years, but we cannot ignore those three million workers. The severity of their injuries and illnesses varies widely; some are amputees, some suffer back injuries, while others have to struggle for each breath. Work injuries can instantly pull the rug out from a family striving for a good middle-class life," Michaels said.
OSHA Drops Dust Rule
While industry fought for changes and delays in OSHA's proposed update of its hazardous dust rule, the agency delivered industry a major holiday gift when OSHA said it's pretty much walking away from the rulemaking. In November, OSHA quietly said it was putting the long-delayed rulemaking on a list of "long-term projects," planning no action for at least a year. The agency now says it's going to further study the impact of any new dust regulations on small businesses during 2016, meaning for all intents and purposes the proposed rulemaking is dead, at least during the Obama Administration.
IRS Releases Standard Mileage Rates for 2015
IRS has issued the 2015 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, 2015, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck will be 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (up from 56 cents in 2014), 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (down half a cent from 2014), and 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (unchanged).
Most Quoteworthy: "Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future." - Walt Disney, innovative animator and entrepreneur that created Mickey Mouse and went on to win 22 Academy awards during his lifetime. Born on December 5, 1901, in Hermosa, Illinois, he and his brother Roy co-founded Walt Disney Productions, which became one of the best-known motion-picture production companies in the world.
2015 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.