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Newsletter
Volume 146
January 4, 2016
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 2016! The new year promises to be another interesting one given the current economic and regulatory environment of our industry and the expected trends. We appreciate the relationship that has developed over all the years and the opportunity to work with you in 2016!
Pirkle Receives ARA Distinguished Service Award
Billy Pirkle
The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) recently presented the Distinguished Service Award to Billy Pirkle for his efforts in successfully launching ResponsibleAg. "Agricultural retailers are already committed to stewardship and safety," said Pirkle, Crop Production Services, Inc. as Senior Director of Environmental, Health and Safety and Chairman of ResponsibleAg. "But the industry didn't have a means to communicate that dedication to the public. ResponsibleAg helps us as an industry to quantify and share our performance." "From the moment we started working on ResponsibleAg, Billy has been dedicated to its success," said ARA's CEO Daren Coppock. "He has put in countless hours and resources to get it off the ground. We would not have been able to establish this initiative without his knowledge, experience and enthusiastic support." Our congratulations go out to Billy for his work on this effort!
Environmental Respect Award Call for Entries
Join the hundreds of ag retailers worldwide who have been honored for their commitment to environmental safety and security. Click here for more information.
PSM: To be, or not to be...
In Shakespeare's play, a despondent Hamlet bemoans the pains and unfairness of life but acknowledges the alternative might still be worse. Like Hamlet, PSM is a complicated topic both in content and politics. Based on everything we are aware of on the subject of PSM, it's not going away. We recommend our clients use this extra time wisely to move forward in developing their PSM program.
Industry efforts have been successful in obtaining more time for implementation with the latest announcement released from OSHA on December 23rd. This latest extension comes as a direct result of language that was included in the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Joint Explanatory Report advising OSHA to go through a formal notice and comment rulemaking process. While the language doesn't carry the weight of law, OSHA did move to align an additional two month extension with the appropriations bill. The bill is only effective through September 30, 2016, the end of the Federal fiscal year and thus, OSHA has been asked to refrain from implementing the retail facility interpretation change until then.
We continue to recommend our clients use this extra time wisely (upgrading their installations, lining up contractors, etc.) to move forward in developing their PSM programs with the goal of substantial compliance by July 22, 2016. This includes the upgrade and preparation of the RMP Program 3 submissions. Retailers have become accustomed to a June anniversary date for their RMP, considering the seasons and time requirements for preparation. Based on our experience, we recommend adopting the July 22, 2016 as the new date in association with the PSM requirements. Please complete these steps to stay on track:
  • Proof and return your P&ID to the Asmark Institute.
  • Develop your PSM program, starting with:
    • Mechanical Integrity Manual (Update)
    • Written Operating Procedures (Create)
    • Process Hazard Analysis (Complete)
  • Send us your information to upgrade your RMP to a Program 3 by March 1, 2016. Watch your mail for instructions.
Upon receiving the information to upgrade your RMP to a Program 3, the Asmark Institute will prepare the submission as always, send you a draft to proof and submit your RMP to EPA on July 22, 2016. Dustin Warder is our lead on PSM/RMP and can be contacted at 270-926-4600, Ext 203.
DOT Revises Physical Report and Card
DOT announced a 120-day grace period during which Medical Examiners may use either the current or the newly revised versions of the Medical Examination Report Form and Medical Examiner's Certificate. This period is from December 22, 2015, until April 20, 2016, due to a problem DOT encountered in adhering to their own schedule. There has been some confusion so it's finally official - the old AND new forms and cards can be used until April 20, 2016.
Preventive Controls for Animal Food Rule Finalized
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Preventive Controls for Animal Food rule is now final. In this rule, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) for animal food production to specifically address the manufacturing, processing, packing and holding of food for animals. These requirements apply to facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for animal consumption in the United States.
There are requirements for animal food facilities to establish and implement hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls. Examples include requirements to maintain a food safety plan, perform a hazard analysis and institute preventive controls for mitigating hazards. Facilities must also document how they monitor their controls, conduct verification activities and take appropriate corrective actions.
These preventive controls provide assurances that hazards will be significantly minimized or prevented and the animal food will not be adulterated. Every facility that produces animal food with a hazard requiring a preventive control must have a recall plan.
The rule has several exemptions including facilities that are solely engaged in the storage of raw agricultural commodities (other than fruits and vegetables) intended for further distribution or processing.
Facilities have different dates for compliance based on business size, with the earliest compliance dates beginning in September 2016 for businesses other than small and very small. For details on the compliance dates or more information including guidance, fact sheets and frequently asked questions, click here. To view the complete publication of the final rule in the Federal Register, click here.
USPS Rate Increases Again
The postal service approved a shipping postal rate change that is scheduled to take effect January 17, 2016. This rate change will only affect the USPS shipping services such as Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express. The First-Class mail price category is not being changed. Overall, USPS shipping rates will increase on average by 9.5% making it once again a great time to check out the Electronic Service Program (ESP). Click here to review the ESP program and see if it is right for you.
Regulatory Agendas Announced: RMP, PSM, Etc.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently released the Fall 2015 Unified Regulatory Agenda. The Regulatory Agenda provides a road map for agency rulemaking activities. While there are many regulations in development, a few of note are listed below:
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
In the regulatory agenda, EPA anticipates proposing a rule to revise the Risk Management Program regulations by December 2015; however EPA is still working through the small business panel process on the rule, so it is anticipated the proposed rule will be published sometime in 2016.
Department of Labor (DOL):
For proposed rule making changes to the Process Safety Management Standard, OSHA anticipates completing the Small Business Panel by April 2016, with a proposed rule to follow. OSHA plans to finalize its rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses, which may lead OSHA to post individual company injury and illness data online by March 2016.
DOJ & DOL Announce Worker Endangerment Initiative to Address Worker Safety Violations
In an effort to prevent and deter crimes that put the lives and the health of workers at risk, the Departments of Justice and Labor recently announced a plan to more effectively prosecute such crimes. Under the new plan, the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorneys' Offices will work with OSHA, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and Wage and Hour Division (WHD) to investigate and prosecute worker endangerment violations.
"On an average day in America, 13 workers die on the job, thousands are injured and 150 succumb to diseases they obtained from exposure to carcinogens and other toxic and hazardous substances while they worked," said Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates. "Given the troubling statistics on workplace deaths and injuries, the Department of Justice is redoubling its efforts to hold accountable those who unlawfully jeopardize workers' health and safety."
"Safety and security in the workplace are a shared commitment. Workplace injuries and illnesses cause an enormous amount of physical, financial and emotional hardship for workers and their families and underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees," said Department of Labor Deputy Secretary Chris Lu. "This announcement demonstrates a renewed commitment by both the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice to utilize criminal prosecution as an enforcement tool to protect the health and safety of workers."
"Every worker has the right to come home safely. While most employers try to do the right thing, we know that strong sanctions are the best tool to ensure that low road employers comply with the law and protect workers lives," said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. Click here for more information.
Chlorpyrifos Deadline to Comment
EPA proposed in the fall of 2015 to revoke U.S. crop tolerances for the insecticide chlorpyrifos. This proposal is an outcome of a recent U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision ordering EPA to respond to allegations about chlorpyrifos in a 2007 activist petition. If the crop tolerances are revoked, U.S. growers will not be able to apply chlorpyrifos to their crops. EPA's proposal would not affect the 2016 growing season.
EPA needs to hear from you about why chlorpyrifos is an important pesticide tool for your customers! It is critical that the EPA hears from the agriculture community to better understand the true consequences of this proposed action. If implemented "as is," it will set precedents with far-reaching consequences which could severely limit crop production and Ag industry's ability to manage pests. Comments are due by January 5, 2016. To submit comments, go to docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0653 at www.regulations.gov. Note: if the docket link does not take you to the chlorpyrifos documents, copy the docket information and enter it in the search box at regulations.gov. This issue occurs with some older browsers.
Pesticide Applicator Deadline to Comment
EPA added another 30 days to the comment period for its proposed pesticide applicator certification rule, making the new deadline to comment January 22, 2016. The update of the standards for the applicators of restricted use pesticides includes provisions requiring certification to be renewed every three years and putting in place new training and licensing requirements for certain applications. For the first time ever, certified applicators and persons working under their supervision would have to be at least 18 years old. Click here for details.
FMCSA Lowers Random Drug Testing Rate for 2016
DOT recently announced that it will lower the random testing rate for controlled substances from the current 50 percent to 25 percent for the upcoming calendar year, effective January 1, 2016. DOT routinely conducts a random survey to ensure compliance with the set testing rates, known as the Management Information System (MIS) or MIS survey. According to federal regulations, when the data received in the MIS for two consecutive calendar years indicates that the positive rate for controlled substances is less than one percent, the Administrator has the discretion to lower the minimum annual testing rate. While the MIS survey resulted in a positive rate of less than one percent for the 2011 and 2012 testing years, the Administrator chose to maintain the 50 percent rate for another year. The 2013 testing year also showed a positive rate of less than one percent, so after three years, the Administrator approved a lower testing rate. If at any time the positive rate for controlled substances exceeds one percent, the testing rate will revert back to 50 percent.
EPA Launches Pesticide Worker Protection Dashboard
EPA has launched a new Pesticide Worker Protection Dashboard as part of an overall effort to increase protection for farm workers who frequently work with pesticides. This new tool provides charts and graphs presenting key enforcement and compliance information related to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) program. The WPS dashboard presents information on the regulated community and answers questions like:
  • How many facilities in the U.S. employ workers or handlers covered by the WPS?
  • How many inspections are reported?
  • How many violations have been found, and what enforcement actions have been taken by states, tribes and/or EPA?
This information will help allow the public and regulators to monitor the types of worker protection violations found in their state and in adjoining states so that they can adjust compliance assistance and education efforts or target inspections to increase compliance. Greater compliance means better protection for agricultural workers and fewer pesticide exposure incidents among farm workers and their family members. That means a healthier workforce, reductions in lost wages and medical bills and fewer absences from work and school. The public will be able to see the number of operations and workers covered by the WPS, and see the types and numbers of responses by the state, territory, tribe or EPA. Click here to view the new dashboard.
IRS Lowers Standard Mileage Rates for 2016
The IRS announced that for business use of a car, van, pickup truck or panel truck, the rate for 2016 will be 54 cents per mile, compared with 57.5 cents in 2015. Taxpayers can use the optional standard mileage rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile. Driving for medical or moving purposes may be deducted at 19 cents per mile, which is four cents lower than for 2015. The rate for service to a charitable organization is unchanged, set by statute (Sec. 170(i)) at 14 cents a mile. The portion of the business standard mileage rate that is treated as depreciation will be 24 cents per mile for 2016, the same as 2015.
Drone Owners Must Register Equipment with FAA
If you own a drone, you must now register it with the Federal Aviation Administration's Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) registry. A federal law effective December 21, 2015 requires unmanned aircraft registration, and you are subject to civil and criminal penalties if you do not register. Click here to access the FAA Registration website.
P&ID Service Launches Soon
For those retailers that are not clients of the Asmark Institute, help will soon be available to assist in drawing the Piping and Instrumentation Diagram or "P&ID" for short. The availability of providers to draw the P&IDs is very limited for several reasons. The Asmark Institute is offering this special service as a national resource center to assist all retailers in developing their Process Safety Management (PSM) program. A P&ID is a diagram (not a site plan) that visually represents the equipment and piping present in an installation identified as a PSM-regulated process. Graphic symbols are used to denote the appropriate equipment and piping. The P&ID is one of the first elements of your process safety information that should be completed, as it plays an integral part in developing other requirements of PSM such as Mechanical Integrity, Process Hazard Analysis and the Operating Procedures.
How can we help?
The Asmark Institute will soon launch a professional service that creates a detailed and accurate:
  • P&ID (Includes a Key and Schedule)
  • Block Flow Diagram
How does it work?
  1. Take pictures of your installation following the instructions carefully.
  2. Upload your pictures for one location at a time.
  3. We draw the draft version of your P&ID and Block Flow Diagram and send you a proof to review and approve.
  4. Proof your diagrams and send us any revisions that are necessary.
  5. We make the revisions as appropriate and send you the final diagrams.
This new service will launch in January and be available via the Compass section of the Asmark Institute website. Go to: www.asmark.org/Compass. For more information, check out the website or contact Nick Clements at nick.clements@asmark.org or by phone at 270-926-4600, Ext 212 or 506.
Final Rule Issued on Electronic Logging of Driver Hours
On December 16, 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published in the Federal Register its Electronic Logging Device (ELD) final rule. The final rule specifies who must use an ELD, sets technical standards and specifications for the devices, makes changes to supporting documents requirements and addresses the issue of driver harassment. ELDs must be installed by December 18, 2017. Most motor carriers and drivers who are currently required to complete paper logs to document record of duty status (RODS) to comply with HOS rules will be required to use ELDs. However, the final rule exempts several sectors from the ELD requirement: (1) Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days during any 30-day period; (2) Drivers who conduct driveaway-towaway operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered; and (3) drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000. Exempted drivers must still document RODS using either paper logs or ELDs, whichever they choose.
FAST Includes Mandatory Tire Registration
The FAST Act contains a controversial provision that would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require independent tire dealers to register every tire they sell at the point of sale and transmit the information electronically to tire manufacturers. The Rubber Manufacturers Association championed the provision as the best way to ensure reaching consumers in case of tire safety recalls, but the Tire Industry Association said the mandatory registration system as currently written is both hopelessly outdated and unfairly punitive to independent dealers. House-Senate conferees added TIA-sponsored language directing NHTSA to conduct a study on requiring manufacturers to include electronic identification in tires, but rejected TIA's proposal to postpone consideration of mandatory registration until the study was completed. Among other things, the FAST Act will also (1) require NHTSA to create minimum performance standards for tire fuel efficiency and wet traction; (2) require NHTSA to establish a user-friendly online tire recall search tool using tire identification numbers; and (3) require NHTSA to update its rule covering tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).
Federal Wage and Labor Law Poster Updates
ARIZONA
Minimum Wage (Effective date 01/2016) - Arizona has released their new Minimum Wage notice. The wage itself has not changed, just the date. However, we are told by the Industrial Commission that the new notice is a required change. This is a substantive change and an updated Arizona poster is required. Click here to order.
COLORADO
Minimum Wage (Effective date 01/2016) - Colorado will be raising their Minimum Wage to $8.31 ($5.29 for tipped employees) per hour on January 1, 2016. This is a substantive change and an updated Colorado poster is required. Click here to order.
MICHIGAN
Minimum Wage (Effective date 01/2016) - Michigan has released a new version of their Minimum Wage notice. The new wage as of January 1st will be $8.50 per hour ($3.23 for tipped wage). This is a substantive change and an updated Michigan poster is required. Click here to order.
NEW YORK
Minimum Wage (Effective date 01/2016) - New York anticipates releasing their new Minimum Wage notice on December 31, 2015. The only thing changing should be the wage itself, which will be $9.00. Tip credits and minimum wages for tipped employees depend on the industry the employee is in and are listed on the various Wage Orders which include the upcoming year. This is a substantive change and an updated New York poster is required. Click here to order.
OREGON
Minimum Wage (Effective date 01/2016) - Oregon has released their 2016 Minimum Wage notice. While the wage remains the same, the new notice includes new information regarding domestic workers (house cleaners, etc.). The Bureau of Labor and Industries would not confirm whether the update is required of all employers. The Wage and Hour Administrator says employers "probably should" update their poster but "probably" won't assess a penalty for not doing so unless the business employs domestic workers. As such, we recommend an update for compliance, though only domestic worker employers should consider this update required as a substantive change. This is a substantive change and an updated Oregon poster is required. Click here to order.
RHODE ISLAND
Minimum Wage (Effective date 01/2016) - Rhode Island has released their new Minimum Wage notice. The new wage is $9.60 ($3.39 for tipped employees). This is a substantive change and an updated Rhode Island poster is required. Click here to order.
2016 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 2016! The new year promises to be another interesting one given the current economic and regulatory environment of our industry and the expected trends. We appreciate the relationship that has developed over all the years and the opportunity to work with you in 2016!
Pirkle Receives ARA Distinguished Service Award
Billy Pirkle
The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) recently presented the Distinguished Service Award to Billy Pirkle for his efforts in successfully launching ResponsibleAg. "Agricultural retailers are already committed to stewardship and safety," said Pirkle, Crop Production Services, Inc. as Senior Director of Environmental, Health and Safety and Chairman of ResponsibleAg. "But the industry didn't have a means to communicate that dedication to the public. ResponsibleAg helps us as an industry to quantify and share our performance." "From the moment we started working on ResponsibleAg, Billy has been dedicated to its success," said ARA's CEO Daren Coppock. "He has put in countless hours and resources to get it off the ground. We would not have been able to establish this initiative without his knowledge, experience and enthusiastic support." Our congratulations go out to Billy for his work on this effort!
Environmental Respect Award Call for Entries
Join the hundreds of ag retailers worldwide who have been honored for their commitment to environmental safety and security. Click here for more information.
PSM: To be, or not to be...
In Shakespeare's play, a despondent Hamlet bemoans the pains and unfairness of life but acknowledges the alternative might still be worse. Like Hamlet, PSM is a complicated topic both in content and politics. Based on everything we are aware of on the subject of PSM, it's not going away. We recommend our clients use this extra time wisely to move forward in developing their PSM program.
Industry efforts have been successful in obtaining more time for implementation with the latest announcement released from OSHA on December 23rd. This latest extension comes as a direct result of language that was included in the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Joint Explanatory Report advising OSHA to go through a formal notice and comment rulemaking process. While the language doesn't carry the weight of law, OSHA did move to align an additional two month extension with the appropriations bill. The bill is only effective through September 30, 2016, the end of the Federal fiscal year and thus, OSHA has been asked to refrain from implementing the retail facility interpretation change until then.
We continue to recommend our clients use this extra time wisely (upgrading their installations, lining up contractors, etc.) to move forward in developing their PSM programs with the goal of substantial compliance by July 22, 2016. This includes the upgrade and preparation of the RMP Program 3 submissions. Retailers have become accustomed to a June anniversary date for their RMP, considering the seasons and time requirements for preparation. Based on our experience, we recommend adopting the July 22, 2016 as the new date in association with the PSM requirements. Please complete these steps to stay on track:
  • Proof and return your P&ID to the Asmark Institute.
  • Develop your PSM program, starting with:
    • Mechanical Integrity Manual (Update)
    • Written Operating Procedures (Create)
    • Process Hazard Analysis (Complete)
  • Send us your information to upgrade your RMP to a Program 3 by March 1, 2016. Watch your mail for instructions.
Upon receiving the information to upgrade your RMP to a Program 3, the Asmark Institute will prepare the submission as always, send you a draft to proof and submit your RMP to EPA on July 22, 2016. Dustin Warder is our lead on PSM/RMP and can be contacted at 270-926-4600, Ext 203.
DOT Revises Physical Report and Card
DOT announced a 120-day grace period during which Medical Examiners may use either the current or the newly revised versions of the Medical Examination Report Form and Medical Examiner's Certificate. This period is from December 22, 2015, until April 20, 2016, due to a problem DOT encountered in adhering to their own schedule. There has been some confusion so it's finally official - the old AND new forms and cards can be used until April 20, 2016.
Preventive Controls for Animal Food Rule Finalized
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Preventive Controls for Animal Food rule is now final. In this rule, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) for animal food production to specifically address the manufacturing, processing, packing and holding of food for animals. These requirements apply to facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for animal consumption in the United States.
There are requirements for animal food facilities to establish and implement hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls. Examples include requirements to maintain a food safety plan, perform a hazard analysis and institute preventive controls for mitigating hazards. Facilities must also document how they monitor their controls, conduct verification activities and take appropriate corrective actions.
These preventive controls provide assurances that hazards will be significantly minimized or prevented and the animal food will not be adulterated. Every facility that produces animal food with a hazard requiring a preventive control must have a recall plan.
The rule has several exemptions including facilities that are solely engaged in the storage of raw agricultural commodities (other than fruits and vegetables) intended for further distribution or processing.
Facilities have different dates for compliance based on business size, with the earliest compliance dates beginning in September 2016 for businesses other than small and very small. For details on the compliance dates or more information including guidance, fact sheets and frequently asked questions, click here. To view the complete publication of the final rule in the Federal Register, click here.
USPS Rate Increases Again
The postal service approved a shipping postal rate change that is scheduled to take effect January 17, 2016. This rate change will only affect the USPS shipping services such as Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express. The First-Class mail price category is not being changed. Overall, USPS shipping rates will increase on average by 9.5% making it once again a great time to check out the Electronic Service Program (ESP). Click here to review the ESP program and see if it is right for you.
Regulatory Agendas Announced: RMP, PSM, Etc.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently released the Fall 2015 Unified Regulatory Agenda. The Regulatory Agenda provides a road map for agency rulemaking activities. While there are many regulations in development, a few of note are listed below:
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
In the regulatory agenda, EPA anticipates proposing a rule to revise the Risk Management Program regulations by December 2015; however EPA is still working through the small business panel process on the rule, so it is anticipated the proposed rule will be published sometime in 2016.
Department of Labor (DOL):
For proposed rule making changes to the Process Safety Management Standard, OSHA anticipates completing the Small Business Panel by April 2016, with a proposed rule to follow. OSHA plans to finalize its rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses, which may lead OSHA to post individual company injury and illness data online by March 2016.
DOJ & DOL Announce Worker Endangerment Initiative to Address Worker Safety Violations
In an effort to prevent and deter crimes that put the lives and the health of workers at risk, the Departments of Justice and Labor recently announced a plan to more effectively prosecute such crimes. Under the new plan, the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorneys' Offices will work with OSHA, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and Wage and Hour Division (WHD) to investigate and prosecute worker endangerment violations.
"On an average day in America, 13 workers die on the job, thousands are injured and 150 succumb to diseases they obtained from exposure to carcinogens and other toxic and hazardous substances while they worked," said Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates. "Given the troubling statistics on workplace deaths and injuries, the Department of Justice is redoubling its efforts to hold accountable those who unlawfully jeopardize workers' health and safety."
"Safety and security in the workplace are a shared commitment. Workplace injuries and illnesses cause an enormous amount of physical, financial and emotional hardship for workers and their families and underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees," said Department of Labor Deputy Secretary Chris Lu. "This announcement demonstrates a renewed commitment by both the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice to utilize criminal prosecution as an enforcement tool to protect the health and safety of workers."
"Every worker has the right to come home safely. While most employers try to do the right thing, we know that strong sanctions are the best tool to ensure that low road employers comply with the law and protect workers lives," said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. Click here for more information.
Chlorpyrifos Deadline to Comment
EPA proposed in the fall of 2015 to revoke U.S. crop tolerances for the insecticide chlorpyrifos. This proposal is an outcome of a recent U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision ordering EPA to respond to allegations about chlorpyrifos in a 2007 activist petition. If the crop tolerances are revoked, U.S. growers will not be able to apply chlorpyrifos to their crops. EPA's proposal would not affect the 2016 growing season.
EPA needs to hear from you about why chlorpyrifos is an important pesticide tool for your customers! It is critical that the EPA hears from the agriculture community to better understand the true consequences of this proposed action. If implemented "as is," it will set precedents with far-reaching consequences which could severely limit crop production and Ag industry's ability to manage pests. Comments are due by January 5, 2016. To submit comments, go to docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0653 at www.regulations.gov. Note: if the docket link does not take you to the chlorpyrifos documents, copy the docket information and enter it in the search box at regulations.gov. This issue occurs with some older browsers.
Pesticide Applicator Deadline to Comment
EPA added another 30 days to the comment period for its proposed pesticide applicator certification rule, making the new deadline to comment January 22, 2016. The update of the standards for the applicators of restricted use pesticides includes provisions requiring certification to be renewed every three years and putting in place new training and licensing requirements for certain applications. For the first time ever, certified applicators and persons working under their supervision would have to be at least 18 years old. Click here for details.
FMCSA Lowers Random Drug Testing Rate for 2016
DOT recently announced that it will lower the random testing rate for controlled substances from the current 50 percent to 25 percent for the upcoming calendar year, effective January 1, 2016. DOT routinely conducts a random survey to ensure compliance with the set testing rates, known as the Management Information System (MIS) or MIS survey. According to federal regulations, when the data received in the MIS for two consecutive calendar years indicates that the positive rate for controlled substances is less than one percent, the Administrator has the discretion to lower the minimum annual testing rate. While the MIS survey resulted in a positive rate of less than one percent for the 2011 and 2012 testing years, the Administrator chose to maintain the 50 percent rate for another year. The 2013 testing year also showed a positive rate of less than one percent, so after three years, the Administrator approved a lower testing rate. If at any time the positive rate for controlled substances exceeds one percent, the testing rate will revert back to 50 percent.
EPA Launches Pesticide Worker Protection Dashboard
EPA has launched a new Pesticide Worker Protection Dashboard as part of an overall effort to increase protection for farm workers who frequently work with pesticides. This new tool provides charts and graphs presenting key enforcement and compliance information related to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) program. The WPS dashboard presents information on the regulated community and answers questions like:
  • How many facilities in the U.S. employ workers or handlers covered by the WPS?
  • How many inspections are reported?
  • How many violations have been found, and what enforcement actions have been taken by states, tribes and/or EPA?
This information will help allow the public and regulators to monitor the types of worker protection violations found in their state and in adjoining states so that they can adjust compliance assistance and education efforts or target inspections to increase compliance. Greater compliance means better protection for agricultural workers and fewer pesticide exposure incidents among farm workers and their family members. That means a healthier workforce, reductions in lost wages and medical bills and fewer absences from work and school. The public will be able to see the number of operations and workers covered by the WPS, and see the types and numbers of responses by the state, territory, tribe or EPA. Click here to view the new dashboard.
IRS Lowers Standard Mileage Rates for 2016
The IRS announced that for business use of a car, van, pickup truck or panel truck, the rate for 2016 will be 54 cents per mile, compared with 57.5 cents in 2015. Taxpayers can use the optional standard mileage rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile. Driving for medical or moving purposes may be deducted at 19 cents per mile, which is four cents lower than for 2015. The rate for service to a charitable organization is unchanged, set by statute (Sec. 170(i)) at 14 cents a mile. The portion of the business standard mileage rate that is treated as depreciation will be 24 cents per mile for 2016, the same as 2015.
Drone Owners Must Register Equipment with FAA
If you own a drone, you must now register it with the Federal Aviation Administration's Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) registry. A federal law effective December 21, 2015 requires unmanned aircraft registration, and you are subject to civil and criminal penalties if you do not register. Click here to access the FAA Registration website.
P&ID Service Launches Soon
For those retailers that are not clients of the Asmark Institute, help will soon be available to assist in drawing the Piping and Instrumentation Diagram or "P&ID" for short. The availability of providers to draw the P&IDs is very limited for several reasons. The Asmark Institute is offering this special service as a national resource center to assist all retailers in developing their Process Safety Management (PSM) program. A P&ID is a diagram (not a site plan) that visually represents the equipment and piping present in an installation identified as a PSM-regulated process. Graphic symbols are used to denote the appropriate equipment and piping. The P&ID is one of the first elements of your process safety information that should be completed, as it plays an integral part in developing other requirements of PSM such as Mechanical Integrity, Process Hazard Analysis and the Operating Procedures.
How can we help?
The Asmark Institute will soon launch a professional service that creates a detailed and accurate:
  • P&ID (Includes a Key and Schedule)
  • Block Flow Diagram
How does it work?
  1. Take pictures of your installation following the instructions carefully.
  2. Upload your pictures for one location at a time.
  3. We draw the draft version of your P&ID and Block Flow Diagram and send you a proof to review and approve.
  4. Proof your diagrams and send us any revisions that are necessary.
  5. We make the revisions as appropriate and send you the final diagrams.
This new service will launch in January and be available via the Compass section of the Asmark Institute website. Go to: www.asmark.org/Compass. For more information, check out the website or contact Nick Clements at nick.clements@asmark.org or by phone at 270-926-4600, Ext 212 or 506.
Final Rule Issued on Electronic Logging of Driver Hours
On December 16, 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published in the Federal Register its Electronic Logging Device (ELD) final rule. The final rule specifies who must use an ELD, sets technical standards and specifications for the devices, makes changes to supporting documents requirements and addresses the issue of driver harassment. ELDs must be installed by December 18, 2017. Most motor carriers and drivers who are currently required to complete paper logs to document record of duty status (RODS) to comply with HOS rules will be required to use ELDs. However, the final rule exempts several sectors from the ELD requirement: (1) Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days during any 30-day period; (2) Drivers who conduct driveaway-towaway operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered; and (3) drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000. Exempted drivers must still document RODS using either paper logs or ELDs, whichever they choose.
FAST Includes Mandatory Tire Registration
The FAST Act contains a controversial provision that would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require independent tire dealers to register every tire they sell at the point of sale and transmit the information electronically to tire manufacturers. The Rubber Manufacturers Association championed the provision as the best way to ensure reaching consumers in case of tire safety recalls, but the Tire Industry Association said the mandatory registration system as currently written is both hopelessly outdated and unfairly punitive to independent dealers. House-Senate conferees added TIA-sponsored language directing NHTSA to conduct a study on requiring manufacturers to include electronic identification in tires, but rejected TIA's proposal to postpone consideration of mandatory registration until the study was completed. Among other things, the FAST Act will also (1) require NHTSA to create minimum performance standards for tire fuel efficiency and wet traction; (2) require NHTSA to establish a user-friendly online tire recall search tool using tire identification numbers; and (3) require NHTSA to update its rule covering tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).
Federal Wage and Labor Law Poster Updates
ARIZONA
Minimum Wage (Effective date 01/2016) - Arizona has released their new Minimum Wage notice. The wage itself has not changed, just the date. However, we are told by the Industrial Commission that the new notice is a required change. This is a substantive change and an updated Arizona poster is required. Click here to order.
COLORADO
Minimum Wage (Effective date 01/2016) - Colorado will be raising their Minimum Wage to $8.31 ($5.29 for tipped employees) per hour on January 1, 2016. This is a substantive change and an updated Colorado poster is required. Click here to order.
MICHIGAN
Minimum Wage (Effective date 01/2016) - Michigan has released a new version of their Minimum Wage notice. The new wage as of January 1st will be $8.50 per hour ($3.23 for tipped wage). This is a substantive change and an updated Michigan poster is required. Click here to order.
NEW YORK
Minimum Wage (Effective date 01/2016) - New York anticipates releasing their new Minimum Wage notice on December 31, 2015. The only thing changing should be the wage itself, which will be $9.00. Tip credits and minimum wages for tipped employees depend on the industry the employee is in and are listed on the various Wage Orders which include the upcoming year. This is a substantive change and an updated New York poster is required. Click here to order.
OREGON
Minimum Wage (Effective date 01/2016) - Oregon has released their 2016 Minimum Wage notice. While the wage remains the same, the new notice includes new information regarding domestic workers (house cleaners, etc.). The Bureau of Labor and Industries would not confirm whether the update is required of all employers. The Wage and Hour Administrator says employers "probably should" update their poster but "probably" won't assess a penalty for not doing so unless the business employs domestic workers. As such, we recommend an update for compliance, though only domestic worker employers should consider this update required as a substantive change. This is a substantive change and an updated Oregon poster is required. Click here to order.
RHODE ISLAND
Minimum Wage (Effective date 01/2016) - Rhode Island has released their new Minimum Wage notice. The new wage is $9.60 ($3.39 for tipped employees). This is a substantive change and an updated Rhode Island poster is required. Click here to order.
2016 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.