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Newsletter
Volume 151
June 1, 2016
ATF Reports West Fertilizer Was a Criminal Act
More than three years after the West, Texas tragedy, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office called a press conference and announced the origin and cause of the plant fire and explosion at West Fertilizer. ATF has determined that the fire started in the seed warehouse that was connected to the fertilizer storage building and the cause of the fire has been determined to have been a criminal act. The criminal act is still under investigation with ATF issuing a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
PSM Lawsuit Update: Just Tell Us Yes or No
Did OSHA overstep their authority on July 22, 2015 when they rescinded the letter of interpretation that originally granted the "retail exemption" to our industry? ARA and TFI have petitioned the court to dispense with oral arguments asking simply for a "yes" or "no" opinion to this question. We were looking to this decision as a key indicator of the future of PSM until OSHA's Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels sent a letter to every member of Congress on May 6th. In the letter, OSHA appears to be doubling-down on their position as he advises members that the agency has already begun amending the PSM Standard to define the retail exemption. He is asking them to "not take further action that would limit the scope or applicability of the guidance during such time as OSHA conducts rulemaking." The letter also indicates the agency plans to begin enforcement of PSM on October 1, 2016.
OSHA's Letter Sparks Controversy
Given the close timeframe of the ATF announcement and the letter to Congress by Dr. Michaels, industry has pushed back with a new fervor wanting to know how PSM came to be when anhydrous ammonia was not involved in the West, Texas tragedy - and now reportedly a criminal act and not the potential safety incident scenario. Also at issue is OSHA's intention to begin enforcement on October 1st despite their plan to complete rulemaking sometime within five years. Add the "wildcard" of being an election year - with special emphasis on "wild" this year, and the future of this issue becomes exponentially harder to predict the outcome.
PSM: Don't Quit Now!
PSM Submissions
We continue to recommend our clients develop 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. If you aren't one of the 92% that have submitted already, it's time to send us your 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. Why not quit? While some in Congress are considering action aimed at stopping or delaying PSM, you should assume the new requirements will take effect as scheduled on October 1, 2016.
Special Delivery!
Ewa and her husband Brad recently received a special visit from the stork. They announced the birth of a beautiful baby girl, Charlotte Zofia, born on May 18, 2016 weighing in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce and 21-1/2 inches long. Ewa is the Program Manager for the ResponsibleAg Certification program and covers the Helpdesk. Congratulations on the new arrival!
Speaking of ResponsibleAg: It's Time to Register
Over 2,000 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, with 222 facilities already receiving their certification. We encourage you to register your facilities today and support the program. The explosion of the West, Texas retail facility in April 2013 marked a low point in the public and regulatory agencies perception of the fertilizer industry. The industry was criticized for not having an organized effort to assist retail dealers in understanding and complying with existing federal regulations. Help is in place now. For more information and to register, go to: www.responsibleag.org
Become a ResponsibleAg Auditor or Attend to Learn More....
We are seeing several organizations credential one or more of their employees to perform their own audits. Many others are signing up for the training to become contract auditors or to learn firsthand about ResponsibleAg - they want to see how it works - so they will be ready for their audit. More than 140 people have already participated in the training, with 84 choosing to become credentialed by ResponsibleAg. To become a ResponsibleAg auditor, the first step is to attend the training. Registration is open and two classes are offered per year. The next class will be on September 13-16th. Click here to register. This is the only course scheduled for the remainder of 2016, so register soon to reserve your seat.
2016 National Safety School - Register Today!
The 38th annual National, Agronomic, Environmental, Health & Safety School will be held on August 23-24, 2016 in Bloomington, Illinois at the Asmark Institute Agricenter. An outstanding lineup of national speakers has been confirmed to present, and this is one you won't want to miss! This year's keynote address will be given by the U.S. Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board Chairperson, Vanessa Sutherland. Other speakers include Jeffrey Wanko, the Directorate of Enforcement Program with U.S. OSHA, who will cover RAGAGEP and Nancy Fitz with the U.S. EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs will discuss the WPS update and proposed changes for certified applicators. Other favorites speaking again this year will be Brian Bothast, OSHA Compliance Specialist, Tom Bray with J.J. Keller and Associates, and Dr. Fred Whitford, who will present sprayer cleanout techniques. A special Airbrakes 101: Components & Adjustments demonstration segment will be given by Mike Templeton, former Indiana State Trooper and surface transportation consultant. Please visit the website at naehss.org for further information and to register.
Independent Truckers Tell Court E-logs Violate Constitutional Rights
Representing tens of thousands of independent truckers, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has submitted a court filing that the new federal requirement for drivers to electronically log their hours on the road violates drivers' constitutional rights. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association made the argument in a brief supporting its lawsuit against the rules which DOT announced late last year. All truck drivers will be required to use the electronic logging devices, known as e-logs, by the end of next year. The lawsuit was filed with the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and has garnered a huge amount of attention for its potential effect on small business/motor carriers.
Reminder: Roadcheck 2016 Scheduled for June 7-9th - Focus on Tires
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's 29th annual International Roadcheck will take place June 7-9, 2016. International Roadcheck is a 72-hour period when approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial, territorial and federal inspectors in jurisdictions across North America perform large truck and bus safety inspections. The special emphasis for 2016 is tire safety. Inspectors will be measuring the tire tread depth, checking the tire pressure, checking to make sure no items are lodged between dual tires and examining the overall condition of the tire to ensure no deep cuts or bulges exist in the sidewalls of the tire.
During the safety blitz, inspectors primarily conduct the North American Standard Level I Inspection - a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of both the driver and vehicle. Drivers are required to provide items such as their license, endorsements, medical card and hours-of-service documentation and may be checked for seat belt usage and the use of alcohol and/or drugs. The vehicle inspection includes checking items such as the braking system, securement of cargo, coupling devices, exhaust system, frame, fuel system, lights, steering mechanism, driveline/driveshaft, suspension, tires, van and open-top trailer bodies, wheels and rims, windshield wipers and emergency exits on buses.
Are Your GHS Efforts on Track?
OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard in 1983 gave workers the "right to know," but the new Globally Harmonized System gives workers the "right to understand." Since 2012, OSHA has been bringing the United States into alignment with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals with the following deadlines:
Deadline
Requirement(s)
Who
December 1, 2013
Train employees on the new label elements and SDS format.
Employers
June 1, 2015
Comply with all modified provisions of this final rule, except distributor extension
Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers
December 1, 2015
Distributors may ship products labeled by manufacturers under the old system until December 1, 2015.
June 1, 2016
Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.
Employers
Transition Period
Comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (this final standard), or the current standard, or both.
All chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers
So, what should I have done already?
  • Train employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format. (12/1/2013)
  • New SDSs should be in a uniform format. (06/01/2015)
  • Comply with either the final standard or the current standard, or both. (5/31/2016)
What do I need to do by June 1, 2016
  • Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards. Update your Hazard Communication Program to discontinue use of the term "MSDS" and other outdated information.
Retailers are fortunate that practically all of the products they receive are already marked with GHS labeling, however, if you have any "left-over" products in your facility, you may need to apply the correct GHS labeling.
Illinois Ammonia Regulations: Soon to be Released
With the Process Safety Management (PSM) rules still on track for October 1, 2016, the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) has continued to work closely with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to finalize the revisions to the Illinois Anhydrous Ammonia and Nitrogen Solutions regulations (Part 215). The upgrades outlined in the Illinois rules are a fundamental step to helping assure that facilities will also find compliance with PSM more realistic once several new technology upgrades are in place. IFCA expects the final rule will be approved in June, with an effective date of July 1, 2016. IFCA has developed a "Highlights" document and the revisions can be reviewed by clicking here. John Rebholz is available at 309-827-2774 regarding any questions on the revised rules and compliance.
OSHA Final Rule Mandates Electronic Reporting of Injuries/Illnesses
Under the new rule, all establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must electronically submit to OSHA injury and illness information from OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301. Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain industries must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A only.
The new requirements take effect August 10, 2016, with phased in data submissions beginning in 2017. These requirements do not add to or change an employer's obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records under the Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses regulation. For more information, visit OSHA's webpage on the final rule, which includes links to a fact sheet and frequently asked questions.
"Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Our new reporting requirements will 'nudge' employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers and the public that they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources at establishments where workers are at greatest risk, and enable 'big data' researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer."
UPS Invests in Drone Technology & More
UPS is partnering with robotics company Zipline to explore how drones can safely and effectively deliver medicines such as vaccines and blood across the world. In a separate deal worth about $7 million, UPS has ordered 125 hybrid-electric delivery trucks and an additional 18 E-100 all-electric trucks from the Workhorse Group. While the contract just covers trucks at this point, Workhorse is developing technology that would allow shipping companies to use low-emission trucks in tandem with drones to create an efficient delivery system. It has developed the HorseFly battery-powered drone, which can carry up to 10 pounds of cargo with a 15-mile range. Workhorse is already testing the system, having obtained FAA permits late last year to fly the drone.
Unified Registration System Enters Second Phase: September 30, 2016
Beginning September 30th, DOT will require trucking companies to use the online Unified Registration System (URS) and will stop accepting paper forms or faxes to apply or update records. URS will be the sole source of registration data for DOT staff and motor carriers, as well as for state licensing and roadside safety enforcement personnel. This system is not to be confused with Unified Carrier Registration, which is not a DOT program. Historically, companies did not pay to receive a USDOT number. Beginning September 30th, new applicants must pay a $300 fee.
DOL Issues New Overtime Rules
The Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued information regarding the final rules increasing the salary minimum for exempt employees. In brief, the following changes will be made:
  • The minimum salary level will rise to $47,476 or $913 per week.
  • Employers may use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10% of the new minimum salary level.
  • The annual compensation for highly compensated employees will rise to $134,004.
  • The effective date of the changes is December 1, 2016.
  • The salary and compensation levels will be "updated" every three years, beginning January 1, 2020.
  • The rules make no changes to the duties tests for exempt employees (executive, administrative, professional, computer-employee and highly-compensated exemptions)
While some in Congress are considering action aimed at stopping these changes, you should assume for the time being that the new requirements will take effect as scheduled. Click here for more information.
Gas Delivery Start-ups Want to Fill Up Cars Anywhere; Is it allowed?
A new crop of start-ups is trying to make gasoline stations obsolete. Tap an app and they'll bring the fuel to you, filling up your car while you're at work, eating breakfast or watching Netflix. Filld Inc., WeFuel Inc., Yoshi Inc., Purple Services Inc. and Booster Fuels Inc. have started operating in a few cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, California, Nashville, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia. But guess what - officials in some of those cities say that driving around in a pickup truck with hundreds of gallons of gasoline might not be safe.
Transgender Bathroom Access Addressed in New EEOC Fact Sheet
In the midst of news coming out of North Carolina, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a new fact sheet that addresses bathroom access rights for transgender employees. The fact sheet's key point is that transgender employees have the right to equal access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. This right is provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964's protection against sex discrimination-even if there is state law to the contrary. Employers should note that, as described on the fact sheet, it is not compliant with Title VII to restrict a transgender employee to a single-user bathroom. Employers can, however, make a single-user bathroom available to all employees who might choose to use it, including transgender employees. Employers should also note that the EEOC has taken the position that co-worker discomfort with respect to a transgender employee must not interfere with the provision of a workplace free from discrimination and is not a valid justification for imposing discriminatory terms or conditions towards a transgender employee.
Federal Wage and Labor Law Poster Updates
CALIFORNIA - SANTA MONICA
Minimum Wage (Effective date July 2016) - Santa Monica has released their Minimum Wage notice. As with Los Angeles, it is on a schedule to increase to $15 per hour by 2020 for most businesses. The notice must be posted in English, Spanish and any other language spoken by 5% or more of the employees. The city says a poster will be published soon. This is a substantive change and a new Santa Monica poster is required. Click here to order.
CALIFORNIA - LOS ANGELES COUNTY
Minimum Wage (Effective date July 2016) - The COUNTY of Los Angeles has released the Minimum Wage notice for unincorporated areas in the county. Unlike the city of Los Angeles, this notice is, thus far, only in English. Only employers with a physical work place or job site in unincorporated areas in the county must post this notice. Note that businesses within the CITY of Los Angeles are specifically NOT in unincorporated areas and should not post the county notice. This is a substantive change and a new Los Angeles County poster is required. Click here to order.
CALIFORNIA - LOS ANGELES
Minimum Wage (Effective date July 2016) - Los Angeles has released their Minimum Wage notice. The notice must be posted in English, Spanish, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Hindi, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Armenian, Russian, and Farsi, plus any other language spoken by at least 5% of the employees at the workplace. This is a substantive change and a new Los Angeles poster is required. Click here to order.
CALIFORNIA - PASADENA
Minimum Wage (Effective date July 2016) - Pasadena has released the minimum wage notice. The notice must be posted by employers of 26 or more employees and must be posted in English and any language spoken by 5% or more of their employees. Only English is provided by the city. This is a substantive change and a new Pasadena poster is required. Click here to order.
WASHINGTON - SEATTLE
Minimum Wage, Wage Theft, Fair Chance Employment, Paid Sick & Safe Time (Effective date September 2016) - The new notice updates some information on the Wage Theft notice but, most significantly, it combines the previously separate notices into a single poster. The ordinance that resulted in this poster went into effect at the beginning of the year, though they only released the poster recently and are not enforcing violations for not posting until September 30, 2016. We highly recommend employers go ahead and replace their notices now to avoid the chance of neglecting to do it later in the year. This is a substantive change and a new Seattle 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.
ATF Reports West Fertilizer Was a Criminal Act
More than three years after the West, Texas tragedy, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office called a press conference and announced the origin and cause of the plant fire and explosion at West Fertilizer. ATF has determined that the fire started in the seed warehouse that was connected to the fertilizer storage building and the cause of the fire has been determined to have been a criminal act. The criminal act is still under investigation with ATF issuing a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
PSM Lawsuit Update: Just Tell Us Yes or No
Did OSHA overstep their authority on July 22, 2015 when they rescinded the letter of interpretation that originally granted the "retail exemption" to our industry? ARA and TFI have petitioned the court to dispense with oral arguments asking simply for a "yes" or "no" opinion to this question. We were looking to this decision as a key indicator of the future of PSM until OSHA's Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels sent a letter to every member of Congress on May 6th. In the letter, OSHA appears to be doubling-down on their position as he advises members that the agency has already begun amending the PSM Standard to define the retail exemption. He is asking them to "not take further action that would limit the scope or applicability of the guidance during such time as OSHA conducts rulemaking." The letter also indicates the agency plans to begin enforcement of PSM on October 1, 2016.
OSHA's Letter Sparks Controversy
Given the close timeframe of the ATF announcement and the letter to Congress by Dr. Michaels, industry has pushed back with a new fervor wanting to know how PSM came to be when anhydrous ammonia was not involved in the West, Texas tragedy - and now reportedly a criminal act and not the potential safety incident scenario. Also at issue is OSHA's intention to begin enforcement on October 1st despite their plan to complete rulemaking sometime within five years. Add the "wildcard" of being an election year - with special emphasis on "wild" this year, and the future of this issue becomes exponentially harder to predict the outcome.
PSM: Don't Quit Now!
PSM Submissions
We continue to recommend our clients develop 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. If you aren't one of the 92% that have submitted already, it's time to send us your 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. Why not quit? While some in Congress are considering action aimed at stopping or delaying PSM, you should assume the new requirements will take effect as scheduled on October 1, 2016.
Special Delivery!
Ewa and her husband Brad recently received a special visit from the stork. They announced the birth of a beautiful baby girl, Charlotte Zofia, born on May 18, 2016 weighing in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce and 21-1/2 inches long. Ewa is the Program Manager for the ResponsibleAg Certification program and covers the Helpdesk. Congratulations on the new arrival!
Speaking of ResponsibleAg: It's Time to Register
Over 2,000 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, with 222 facilities already receiving their certification. We encourage you to register your facilities today and support the program. The explosion of the West, Texas retail facility in April 2013 marked a low point in the public and regulatory agencies perception of the fertilizer industry. The industry was criticized for not having an organized effort to assist retail dealers in understanding and complying with existing federal regulations. Help is in place now. For more information and to register, go to: www.responsibleag.org
Become a ResponsibleAg Auditor or Attend to Learn More....
We are seeing several organizations credential one or more of their employees to perform their own audits. Many others are signing up for the training to become contract auditors or to learn firsthand about ResponsibleAg - they want to see how it works - so they will be ready for their audit. More than 140 people have already participated in the training, with 84 choosing to become credentialed by ResponsibleAg. To become a ResponsibleAg auditor, the first step is to attend the training. Registration is open and two classes are offered per year. The next class will be on September 13-16th. Click here to register. This is the only course scheduled for the remainder of 2016, so register soon to reserve your seat.
2016 National Safety School - Register Today!
The 38th annual National, Agronomic, Environmental, Health & Safety School will be held on August 23-24, 2016 in Bloomington, Illinois at the Asmark Institute Agricenter. An outstanding lineup of national speakers has been confirmed to present, and this is one you won't want to miss! This year's keynote address will be given by the U.S. Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board Chairperson, Vanessa Sutherland. Other speakers include Jeffrey Wanko, the Directorate of Enforcement Program with U.S. OSHA, who will cover RAGAGEP and Nancy Fitz with the U.S. EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs will discuss the WPS update and proposed changes for certified applicators. Other favorites speaking again this year will be Brian Bothast, OSHA Compliance Specialist, Tom Bray with J.J. Keller and Associates, and Dr. Fred Whitford, who will present sprayer cleanout techniques. A special Airbrakes 101: Components & Adjustments demonstration segment will be given by Mike Templeton, former Indiana State Trooper and surface transportation consultant. Please visit the website at naehss.org for further information and to register.
Independent Truckers Tell Court E-logs Violate Constitutional Rights
Representing tens of thousands of independent truckers, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has submitted a court filing that the new federal requirement for drivers to electronically log their hours on the road violates drivers' constitutional rights. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association made the argument in a brief supporting its lawsuit against the rules which DOT announced late last year. All truck drivers will be required to use the electronic logging devices, known as e-logs, by the end of next year. The lawsuit was filed with the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and has garnered a huge amount of attention for its potential effect on small business/motor carriers.
Reminder: Roadcheck 2016 Scheduled for June 7-9th - Focus on Tires
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's 29th annual International Roadcheck will take place June 7-9, 2016. International Roadcheck is a 72-hour period when approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial, territorial and federal inspectors in jurisdictions across North America perform large truck and bus safety inspections. The special emphasis for 2016 is tire safety. Inspectors will be measuring the tire tread depth, checking the tire pressure, checking to make sure no items are lodged between dual tires and examining the overall condition of the tire to ensure no deep cuts or bulges exist in the sidewalls of the tire.
During the safety blitz, inspectors primarily conduct the North American Standard Level I Inspection - a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of both the driver and vehicle. Drivers are required to provide items such as their license, endorsements, medical card and hours-of-service documentation and may be checked for seat belt usage and the use of alcohol and/or drugs. The vehicle inspection includes checking items such as the braking system, securement of cargo, coupling devices, exhaust system, frame, fuel system, lights, steering mechanism, driveline/driveshaft, suspension, tires, van and open-top trailer bodies, wheels and rims, windshield wipers and emergency exits on buses.
Are Your GHS Efforts on Track?
OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard in 1983 gave workers the "right to know," but the new Globally Harmonized System gives workers the "right to understand." Since 2012, OSHA has been bringing the United States into alignment with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals with the following deadlines:
Deadline
Requirement(s)
Who
December 1, 2013
Train employees on the new label elements and SDS format.
Employers
June 1, 2015
Comply with all modified provisions of this final rule, except distributor extension
Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers
December 1, 2015
Distributors may ship products labeled by manufacturers under the old system until December 1, 2015.
June 1, 2016
Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.
Employers
Transition Period
Comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (this final standard), or the current standard, or both.
All chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers
So, what should I have done already?
  • Train employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format. (12/1/2013)
  • New SDSs should be in a uniform format. (06/01/2015)
  • Comply with either the final standard or the current standard, or both. (5/31/2016)
What do I need to do by June 1, 2016
  • Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards. Update your Hazard Communication Program to discontinue use of the term "MSDS" and other outdated information.
Retailers are fortunate that practically all of the products they receive are already marked with GHS labeling, however, if you have any "left-over" products in your facility, you may need to apply the correct GHS labeling.
Illinois Ammonia Regulations: Soon to be Released
With the Process Safety Management (PSM) rules still on track for October 1, 2016, the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) has continued to work closely with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to finalize the revisions to the Illinois Anhydrous Ammonia and Nitrogen Solutions regulations (Part 215). The upgrades outlined in the Illinois rules are a fundamental step to helping assure that facilities will also find compliance with PSM more realistic once several new technology upgrades are in place. IFCA expects the final rule will be approved in June, with an effective date of July 1, 2016. IFCA has developed a "Highlights" document and the revisions can be reviewed by clicking here. John Rebholz is available at 309-827-2774 regarding any questions on the revised rules and compliance.
OSHA Final Rule Mandates Electronic Reporting of Injuries/Illnesses
Under the new rule, all establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must electronically submit to OSHA injury and illness information from OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301. Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain industries must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A only.
The new requirements take effect August 10, 2016, with phased in data submissions beginning in 2017. These requirements do not add to or change an employer's obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records under the Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses regulation. For more information, visit OSHA's webpage on the final rule, which includes links to a fact sheet and frequently asked questions.
"Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Our new reporting requirements will 'nudge' employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers and the public that they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources at establishments where workers are at greatest risk, and enable 'big data' researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer."
UPS Invests in Drone Technology & More
UPS is partnering with robotics company Zipline to explore how drones can safely and effectively deliver medicines such as vaccines and blood across the world. In a separate deal worth about $7 million, UPS has ordered 125 hybrid-electric delivery trucks and an additional 18 E-100 all-electric trucks from the Workhorse Group. While the contract just covers trucks at this point, Workhorse is developing technology that would allow shipping companies to use low-emission trucks in tandem with drones to create an efficient delivery system. It has developed the HorseFly battery-powered drone, which can carry up to 10 pounds of cargo with a 15-mile range. Workhorse is already testing the system, having obtained FAA permits late last year to fly the drone.
Unified Registration System Enters Second Phase: September 30, 2016
Beginning September 30th, DOT will require trucking companies to use the online Unified Registration System (URS) and will stop accepting paper forms or faxes to apply or update records. URS will be the sole source of registration data for DOT staff and motor carriers, as well as for state licensing and roadside safety enforcement personnel. This system is not to be confused with Unified Carrier Registration, which is not a DOT program. Historically, companies did not pay to receive a USDOT number. Beginning September 30th, new applicants must pay a $300 fee.
DOL Issues New Overtime Rules
The Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued information regarding the final rules increasing the salary minimum for exempt employees. In brief, the following changes will be made:
  • The minimum salary level will rise to $47,476 or $913 per week.
  • Employers may use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10% of the new minimum salary level.
  • The annual compensation for highly compensated employees will rise to $134,004.
  • The effective date of the changes is December 1, 2016.
  • The salary and compensation levels will be "updated" every three years, beginning January 1, 2020.
  • The rules make no changes to the duties tests for exempt employees (executive, administrative, professional, computer-employee and highly-compensated exemptions)
While some in Congress are considering action aimed at stopping these changes, you should assume for the time being that the new requirements will take effect as scheduled. Click here for more information.
Gas Delivery Start-ups Want to Fill Up Cars Anywhere; Is it allowed?
A new crop of start-ups is trying to make gasoline stations obsolete. Tap an app and they'll bring the fuel to you, filling up your car while you're at work, eating breakfast or watching Netflix. Filld Inc., WeFuel Inc., Yoshi Inc., Purple Services Inc. and Booster Fuels Inc. have started operating in a few cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, California, Nashville, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia. But guess what - officials in some of those cities say that driving around in a pickup truck with hundreds of gallons of gasoline might not be safe.
Transgender Bathroom Access Addressed in New EEOC Fact Sheet
In the midst of news coming out of North Carolina, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a new fact sheet that addresses bathroom access rights for transgender employees. The fact sheet's key point is that transgender employees have the right to equal access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. This right is provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964's protection against sex discrimination-even if there is state law to the contrary. Employers should note that, as described on the fact sheet, it is not compliant with Title VII to restrict a transgender employee to a single-user bathroom. Employers can, however, make a single-user bathroom available to all employees who might choose to use it, including transgender employees. Employers should also note that the EEOC has taken the position that co-worker discomfort with respect to a transgender employee must not interfere with the provision of a workplace free from discrimination and is not a valid justification for imposing discriminatory terms or conditions towards a transgender employee.
Federal Wage and Labor Law Poster Updates
CALIFORNIA - SANTA MONICA
Minimum Wage (Effective date July 2016) - Santa Monica has released their Minimum Wage notice. As with Los Angeles, it is on a schedule to increase to $15 per hour by 2020 for most businesses. The notice must be posted in English, Spanish and any other language spoken by 5% or more of the employees. The city says a poster will be published soon. This is a substantive change and a new Santa Monica poster is required. Click here to order.
CALIFORNIA - LOS ANGELES COUNTY
Minimum Wage (Effective date July 2016) - The COUNTY of Los Angeles has released the Minimum Wage notice for unincorporated areas in the county. Unlike the city of Los Angeles, this notice is, thus far, only in English. Only employers with a physical work place or job site in unincorporated areas in the county must post this notice. Note that businesses within the CITY of Los Angeles are specifically NOT in unincorporated areas and should not post the county notice. This is a substantive change and a new Los Angeles County poster is required. Click here to order.
CALIFORNIA - LOS ANGELES
Minimum Wage (Effective date July 2016) - Los Angeles has released their Minimum Wage notice. The notice must be posted in English, Spanish, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Hindi, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Armenian, Russian, and Farsi, plus any other language spoken by at least 5% of the employees at the workplace. This is a substantive change and a new Los Angeles poster is required. Click here to order.
CALIFORNIA - PASADENA
Minimum Wage (Effective date July 2016) - Pasadena has released the minimum wage notice. The notice must be posted by employers of 26 or more employees and must be posted in English and any language spoken by 5% or more of their employees. Only English is provided by the city. This is a substantive change and a new Pasadena poster is required. Click here to order.
WASHINGTON - SEATTLE
Minimum Wage, Wage Theft, Fair Chance Employment, Paid Sick & Safe Time (Effective date September 2016) - The new notice updates some information on the Wage Theft notice but, most significantly, it combines the previously separate notices into a single poster. The ordinance that resulted in this poster went into effect at the beginning of the year, though they only released the poster recently and are not enforcing violations for not posting until September 30, 2016. We highly recommend employers go ahead and replace their notices now to avoid the chance of neglecting to do it later in the year. This is a substantive change and a new Seattle 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.