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Newsletter
Volume 167
October 2, 2017
Florida In Our Thoughts and Prayers
Just as the effects of Harvey were tapering off, Hurricane Irma gained strength and terrorized Florida. It was just last month in our newsletter that we extended our thoughts and prayers to those in Texas. This month we double-down and direct our thoughts and prayers to those in Florida affected by the recent hurricane. Besides the destruction caused by the passing of the hurricane, Florida's agriculture has been devastated. Crops were destroyed and the businesses and workforce are going to feel the effects for at least the next year. Stay strong - stay safe and know the rest of the country is pulling for you!
Website: Two Million Visitors Celebrated
2,000,000th Website Visitor
Some companies believe website counters are old-fashioned, typically because they programmed them to tally every click made while on their website. We value our clients and went about building our website counter to provide a little more meaningful count on our progress. Our website counter increases by one each day when one of our clients accesses it - regardless of the number of pages or clicks. So when George Ficenec, Site Safety Coordinator for Crop Production Services in Pendleton, Oregon recently logged on, little did he know that he was the 2,000,000th actual person to access our website. George is on top of his duties at the branch and has already participated in the OSHA AG- 30 course. Congratulations and an Asmark Institute replica truck goes to George for being the lucky recipient of this honor.
Kentucky CDL Drivers to Submit Online
Beginning October 1st, commercial drivers in Kentucky will be required to complete their commercial driver documents online. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has launched a Web portal called My CDL that will allow commercial drivers to complete CDL applications and selfcertifications online, as well as upload pictures of medical examiners' certificates and waivers. As of October 1st, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will no longer accept documents (medical certification, selfcertification, commercial application documents) through fax or by email. First-time users of My CDL will be directed to the Kentucky Business One Stop portal to create an account. Users then will be able to gain admittance to the My CDL portal. Click here to access the portal.
Silo: The Film
This short film is a Tribeca Film Festival winner and meditation on life in a small midwest farm town. When a grain entrapment shocks their small community, Adam Fox, a young farmer and Clay Althoff, a senior in high school, both consider the risks and rewards of a corn farmer's life. We have preserved this film under the Tutorials section of our website and encourage you to review it. This film is supported by the Future Farmers of America. Click here to review.
OSHA Fatal Facts
New OSHA Publication Examines Cause of Fatal Fall
A new addition to OSHA's Fatal Facts series emphasizes the importance of using manufacturer-approved lifting equipment to prevent falls. Warehouse Fall from a Pallet Lifted by a Forklift, examines the root causes of an incident in which a worker died in a fall from an improperly raised pallet while pulling stock from elevated shelves. Fatal Facts describes cases in which there was a failure to identify and correct hazardous working conditions before they resulted in fatalities at the worksite.
Midwest Ag Systems Warns of Possible Corn Drying & Aeriation Issues
Midwest Ag Systems (MAS) has helped over the years with our building projects that include grain equipment. I receive their newsletter and for the first time in my career there is an unusual situation occurring this fall. Larry Harris, the owner of MAS, believes the origin of this dust could very possibly be mold related. There is a potentially major problem in this year's corn crop. I have seen and received reports of a dust-like substance in the corn that is causing some issues. I do not know how widespread the issue is, but I wanted to make everyone aware of it. Below is a list of potential problems that we are seeing it cause:
  • In a portable dryer: The grain columns will stop flowing and the grain will overheat. If the grain temperature is not monitored by the dryer control system, or if the grain temperature sensor has been bypassed, the grain in the dryer can combust. If the grain stops flowing through the dryer, then the dryer will need to be emptied, made sure the screens are clean and started again.
  • In a TOP DRY: The grain will stop flowing and it will need to be emptied, made sure the screens are clean and started again.
  • In both the portable dryer and TOP DRY if using LP: If they get a large area of grain choked and not moving, the air will not pass through those areas well. Static pressures will then increase and the vaporizers will overheat.
  • In a drying bin without a stirring machine: It is very possible that the airflow can become so restricted, from the air not being able to pass through, that the grain will spoil while in the drying process.
  • In a drying bin with a stirring machine: If the augers do not go close enough to the wall, the grain next to the wall will possibly seal over and spoil from lack of proper aeration.
  • In a storage bin: Air will not be able to pass through the grain well and bridging could easily occur. I have seen this grain scooped into a pile and not flow as it normally would (it stays put like a pyramid and does not flow). If you put this grain in a storage bin from your dryer, I would recommend complete cooling before putting it in long-term storage. After the grain has been placed in storage, run your aeration fans and monitor your bins excessively. When this grain is removed from the bins, do not enter the bin because the probability of grain entrapment will be very high. The dust in the corn is acting like a bonding agent and gluing it together. I would recommend coring the bin every three to six feet in the filling process. Pull out 200-300 bushels, depending on bin size.
For you and your worker's safety, any time you are dealing with this grain, wear a dust mask rated for mold. Whether you are driving the combine, unloading grain, operating the dryer, leveling the bin or unloading the bin, wear the mask. Thanks to Midwest Ag Systems for this heads-up! Click here to visit their website.
Senators Question DOT's Withdrawal of Sleep Apnea Rule
Four U.S. Senators penned a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao challenging a recent decision to withdraw a proposed rule to stiffen obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) requirements for commercial drivers and rail workers.
In a letter to Secretary Chao, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) requested the data used by DOT to make the decision to withdraw the prerule, along with its plan to identify and treat rail operators and commercial drivers suffering from OSA. DOT withdrew a joint rulemaking entitled "Evaluation of Safety Sensitive Personnel for Moderateto- Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea" on August 8, 2017.
The senators wrote that they "...strongly believe that DOT should immediately reconsider the decision in order to help avoid future fatigue-related tragedies." The letter also cited the potential dangers of OSA in the transportation network. Specifically, the National Transportation Safety Board - as early as 2001 - recommended that rail operators be tested and treated for sleep disorders like OSA following a series of deadly derailments. OSA has been the probable cause in a significant number of rail and highway accidents, the Senators stated. Note: Don't be surprised if this topic doesn't pop back up with the next change in administrations.
CVSA Reports on Annual Enforcement Campaign
During Roadcheck 2017, 23 percent of the commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and 4.2 percent of the drivers were placed out of service. The 72-hour inspection campaign was held June 6 - 8, 2017 with Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) inspectors performing more than 62,000 roadside inspections throughout Canada and the United States. Of those inspections, approximately 8,000 inspections occurred in Canada and 54,000 in the United States.
Top vehicle violations: 19.4 percent of CMVs were placed out of service. The top three out-of-service vehicle violations included:
  1. Brake systems - 26.9 percent
  2. Cargo securement - 15.7 percent
  3. Tires/wheels - 15.1 percent
If you combine brake adjustment and brake system violations, it accounts for 41.4 percent of all out-of-service vehicle violations.
Top driver violations: 14.7 percent of all drivers inspected were placed out of service for driver-related violations. The top three driver-related out-of-service violations included:
  1. Hours of service - 32.3 percent
  2. Wrong class license - 14.9 percent
  3. False log book - 11.3 percent
In addition, there were 710 safety belt violations.
Hazmat violations: 12.8 percent were placed out of service for vehicle-related violations and 1.9 percent for driver-related violations. The top three vehicle out-of-service violations for those transporting hazardous materials/dangerous goods were:
  1. Loading and securement - 40.4 percent
  2. Shipping papers - 22.7 percent
  3. Placarding - 20.8 percent
2017 Net Farm Income Estimated Higher - But Still Low
Last month the USDA released the latest estimates of U.S. net farm income. For the first time in four years, net farm income was estimated to turn higher in 2017. Currently, net farm income is estimated at $63.4 billion, 3% higher than 2016. While this is an upturn, it is important to note that net farm income from 2014 to 2017 declined 52%. Net farm income remains well below its long-run average, and in a "return to normal" in the agricultural economy, one would expect net farm income to be closer to $80 billion.
America's Opioid Epidemic
The growing opioid epidemic, and its impact on the behavior and health of employees, creates unique challenges for employers. A focus on education, prevention and counseling may help minimize the impact of opioid use on your workplace. When formulating your plan to address the issue, you should consider the following four steps: (1) create an environment where employees are likely to disclose opioid-related issues, (2) reconsider zero tolerance drug testing failure policies, (3) consider enhanced monitoring of workers' compensation claims, and (4) revisit and enhance your drug counseling programs. Although opioid use continues to increase at an alarming rate, many employers have not yet addressed this concern in their policies and programs. There is no perfect plan currently available, but working to take proactive steps and avoid risks to your employees is a good place to start.
State Labor Law Poster Updates
IDAHO
Specific individual state notice that has changed:
  • Equal Opportunity and Unemployment
What is the change? After checking with the state of Idaho, they have confirmed that the only change is the director's name in both notices and that it is a required change. This is a material substantive change and a new poster is required. Effective date of the poster(s) change is September 2017. Click here to order.
TENNESSEE
Specific individual state notice that has changed:
  • Wage Regulation
What is the change? The payment due has changed from "semi-monthly" to "once per month." Also, the number of points of contact for the hearing impaired has been consolidated from 4 to 1. This is a material substantive change and a new poster is required. Effective date of the poster(s) change is August 2017. Click here to order.
2017 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.
Florida In Our Thoughts and Prayers
Just as the effects of Harvey were tapering off, Hurricane Irma gained strength and terrorized Florida. It was just last month in our newsletter that we extended our thoughts and prayers to those in Texas. This month we double-down and direct our thoughts and prayers to those in Florida affected by the recent hurricane. Besides the destruction caused by the passing of the hurricane, Florida's agriculture has been devastated. Crops were destroyed and the businesses and workforce are going to feel the effects for at least the next year. Stay strong - stay safe and know the rest of the country is pulling for you!
Website: Two Million Visitors Celebrated
2,000,000th Website Visitor
Some companies believe website counters are old-fashioned, typically because they programmed them to tally every click made while on their website. We value our clients and went about building our website counter to provide a little more meaningful count on our progress. Our website counter increases by one each day when one of our clients accesses it - regardless of the number of pages or clicks. So when George Ficenec, Site Safety Coordinator for Crop Production Services in Pendleton, Oregon recently logged on, little did he know that he was the 2,000,000th actual person to access our website. George is on top of his duties at the branch and has already participated in the OSHA AG- 30 course. Congratulations and an Asmark Institute replica truck goes to George for being the lucky recipient of this honor.
Kentucky CDL Drivers to Submit Online
Beginning October 1st, commercial drivers in Kentucky will be required to complete their commercial driver documents online. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has launched a Web portal called My CDL that will allow commercial drivers to complete CDL applications and selfcertifications online, as well as upload pictures of medical examiners' certificates and waivers. As of October 1st, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will no longer accept documents (medical certification, selfcertification, commercial application documents) through fax or by email. First-time users of My CDL will be directed to the Kentucky Business One Stop portal to create an account. Users then will be able to gain admittance to the My CDL portal. Click here to access the portal.
Silo: The Film
This short film is a Tribeca Film Festival winner and meditation on life in a small midwest farm town. When a grain entrapment shocks their small community, Adam Fox, a young farmer and Clay Althoff, a senior in high school, both consider the risks and rewards of a corn farmer's life. We have preserved this film under the Tutorials section of our website and encourage you to review it. This film is supported by the Future Farmers of America. Click here to review.
OSHA Fatal Facts
New OSHA Publication Examines Cause of Fatal Fall
A new addition to OSHA's Fatal Facts series emphasizes the importance of using manufacturer-approved lifting equipment to prevent falls. Warehouse Fall from a Pallet Lifted by a Forklift, examines the root causes of an incident in which a worker died in a fall from an improperly raised pallet while pulling stock from elevated shelves. Fatal Facts describes cases in which there was a failure to identify and correct hazardous working conditions before they resulted in fatalities at the worksite.
Midwest Ag Systems Warns of Possible Corn Drying & Aeriation Issues
Midwest Ag Systems (MAS) has helped over the years with our building projects that include grain equipment. I receive their newsletter and for the first time in my career there is an unusual situation occurring this fall. Larry Harris, the owner of MAS, believes the origin of this dust could very possibly be mold related. There is a potentially major problem in this year's corn crop. I have seen and received reports of a dust-like substance in the corn that is causing some issues. I do not know how widespread the issue is, but I wanted to make everyone aware of it. Below is a list of potential problems that we are seeing it cause:
  • In a portable dryer: The grain columns will stop flowing and the grain will overheat. If the grain temperature is not monitored by the dryer control system, or if the grain temperature sensor has been bypassed, the grain in the dryer can combust. If the grain stops flowing through the dryer, then the dryer will need to be emptied, made sure the screens are clean and started again.
  • In a TOP DRY: The grain will stop flowing and it will need to be emptied, made sure the screens are clean and started again.
  • In both the portable dryer and TOP DRY if using LP: If they get a large area of grain choked and not moving, the air will not pass through those areas well. Static pressures will then increase and the vaporizers will overheat.
  • In a drying bin without a stirring machine: It is very possible that the airflow can become so restricted, from the air not being able to pass through, that the grain will spoil while in the drying process.
  • In a drying bin with a stirring machine: If the augers do not go close enough to the wall, the grain next to the wall will possibly seal over and spoil from lack of proper aeration.
  • In a storage bin: Air will not be able to pass through the grain well and bridging could easily occur. I have seen this grain scooped into a pile and not flow as it normally would (it stays put like a pyramid and does not flow). If you put this grain in a storage bin from your dryer, I would recommend complete cooling before putting it in long-term storage. After the grain has been placed in storage, run your aeration fans and monitor your bins excessively. When this grain is removed from the bins, do not enter the bin because the probability of grain entrapment will be very high. The dust in the corn is acting like a bonding agent and gluing it together. I would recommend coring the bin every three to six feet in the filling process. Pull out 200-300 bushels, depending on bin size.
For you and your worker's safety, any time you are dealing with this grain, wear a dust mask rated for mold. Whether you are driving the combine, unloading grain, operating the dryer, leveling the bin or unloading the bin, wear the mask. Thanks to Midwest Ag Systems for this heads-up! Click here to visit their website.
Senators Question DOT's Withdrawal of Sleep Apnea Rule
Four U.S. Senators penned a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao challenging a recent decision to withdraw a proposed rule to stiffen obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) requirements for commercial drivers and rail workers.
In a letter to Secretary Chao, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) requested the data used by DOT to make the decision to withdraw the prerule, along with its plan to identify and treat rail operators and commercial drivers suffering from OSA. DOT withdrew a joint rulemaking entitled "Evaluation of Safety Sensitive Personnel for Moderateto- Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea" on August 8, 2017.
The senators wrote that they "...strongly believe that DOT should immediately reconsider the decision in order to help avoid future fatigue-related tragedies." The letter also cited the potential dangers of OSA in the transportation network. Specifically, the National Transportation Safety Board - as early as 2001 - recommended that rail operators be tested and treated for sleep disorders like OSA following a series of deadly derailments. OSA has been the probable cause in a significant number of rail and highway accidents, the Senators stated. Note: Don't be surprised if this topic doesn't pop back up with the next change in administrations.
CVSA Reports on Annual Enforcement Campaign
During Roadcheck 2017, 23 percent of the commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and 4.2 percent of the drivers were placed out of service. The 72-hour inspection campaign was held June 6 - 8, 2017 with Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) inspectors performing more than 62,000 roadside inspections throughout Canada and the United States. Of those inspections, approximately 8,000 inspections occurred in Canada and 54,000 in the United States.
Top vehicle violations: 19.4 percent of CMVs were placed out of service. The top three out-of-service vehicle violations included:
  1. Brake systems - 26.9 percent
  2. Cargo securement - 15.7 percent
  3. Tires/wheels - 15.1 percent
If you combine brake adjustment and brake system violations, it accounts for 41.4 percent of all out-of-service vehicle violations.
Top driver violations: 14.7 percent of all drivers inspected were placed out of service for driver-related violations. The top three driver-related out-of-service violations included:
  1. Hours of service - 32.3 percent
  2. Wrong class license - 14.9 percent
  3. False log book - 11.3 percent
In addition, there were 710 safety belt violations.
Hazmat violations: 12.8 percent were placed out of service for vehicle-related violations and 1.9 percent for driver-related violations. The top three vehicle out-of-service violations for those transporting hazardous materials/dangerous goods were:
  1. Loading and securement - 40.4 percent
  2. Shipping papers - 22.7 percent
  3. Placarding - 20.8 percent
2017 Net Farm Income Estimated Higher - But Still Low
Last month the USDA released the latest estimates of U.S. net farm income. For the first time in four years, net farm income was estimated to turn higher in 2017. Currently, net farm income is estimated at $63.4 billion, 3% higher than 2016. While this is an upturn, it is important to note that net farm income from 2014 to 2017 declined 52%. Net farm income remains well below its long-run average, and in a "return to normal" in the agricultural economy, one would expect net farm income to be closer to $80 billion.
America's Opioid Epidemic
The growing opioid epidemic, and its impact on the behavior and health of employees, creates unique challenges for employers. A focus on education, prevention and counseling may help minimize the impact of opioid use on your workplace. When formulating your plan to address the issue, you should consider the following four steps: (1) create an environment where employees are likely to disclose opioid-related issues, (2) reconsider zero tolerance drug testing failure policies, (3) consider enhanced monitoring of workers' compensation claims, and (4) revisit and enhance your drug counseling programs. Although opioid use continues to increase at an alarming rate, many employers have not yet addressed this concern in their policies and programs. There is no perfect plan currently available, but working to take proactive steps and avoid risks to your employees is a good place to start.
State Labor Law Poster Updates
IDAHO
Specific individual state notice that has changed:
  • Equal Opportunity and Unemployment
What is the change? After checking with the state of Idaho, they have confirmed that the only change is the director's name in both notices and that it is a required change. This is a material substantive change and a new poster is required. Effective date of the poster(s) change is September 2017. Click here to order.
TENNESSEE
Specific individual state notice that has changed:
  • Wage Regulation
What is the change? The payment due has changed from "semi-monthly" to "once per month." Also, the number of points of contact for the hearing impaired has been consolidated from 4 to 1. This is a material substantive change and a new poster is required. Effective date of the poster(s) change is August 2017. Click here to order.
2017 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.