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Volume 180
November 1, 2018

Allen Summers Announces Retirement

After 30 years as the President of Asmark, Allen Summers will retire at the end of 2018.  His career in agriculture spans more than 44 years as a farmer, distributor, retailer and founder of the Asmark Institute.  Widely recognized for their vision, work ethic and generous contribution to the agricultural industry, Allen and his wife Susan recount their time at Asmark as being a whirlwind of truly amazing opportunities.  Always up to the task, the creative couple loved building solutions for people - many of which were pioneered specifically for the ag industry.

“Working at Asmark has been a privilege.  We worked with the best of the best, and with the full cooperation and support of our clients and affiliates, created solutions that filled needs.  A hands-on approach to succession planning has resulted in knowing that we are leaving the organization in great hands,” said Allen.  Amber M. Duke will take his place as the President/CEO while Megan Hill, Manager of Data & Processes will replace Susan.  Rounding out the management team are Brian Mason, Manager of Accounting & Finances and Eric Rasor, Manager of Website Technology.

Annual Compliance Season Kicks Off! 

Annual Compliance Season kicked off Monday, October 22nd with the launch of the Compliance Wizard. The Compliance Wizard is a web-based feature that utilizes logic to guide the user through the annual compliance visit process. Built-in checks and balances help ensure that all required reports are completed and accurate.

New this year, a refresher tutorial has been created to help prepare EHS&S staff and facility personnel for the changes in the process from last year and also serve as a refresher on the important aspects of retrieving the report data this year. The refresher tutorial can be found on the first page of the Compliance Wizard.  Instructions for completing your annual compliance visit using the Compliance Wizard have been sent out, so watch your mail.

The deadline to have compliance visits completed is December 31, 2018. For questions please contact Dustin Warder at 270-926-4600 Ext 203 or Customer Service at 270-926-4600 Ext 506.

MyScore is Helping Farm Centers Measure Up!

Since the official launch of MyScore on July 1st, we have continued to see clients working towards providing a safer workplace for their employees as their MyScore continues to rise.  The benchmark, which started at 72, has risen 5-6 points to reach a point teetering around the 77-78 level in just a little over 3 months.  As compliance season is underway, there will be a renewed emphasis on the MyScore to assist the locations in developing a plan for improvement if needed. MyScore is designed to promote the continuous, systematic process of proactively identifying and tracking risk management efforts at retail agrichemical facilities.

To date, there have been eight Alabama Farmers Cooperative (AFC) locations that started with and have maintained a perfect MyScore of 100% for both their daily and yearly scores.  This is a huge accomplishment and an indicator of their focused efforts to responding to things timely and staying in compliance.  We applaud the efforts of the AFC locations who have maintained 100%, as they serve as an example for all.

Are you monitoring your MyScore?  To better understand your facility’s score and the actions required to take it up a notch, don’t hesitate to call Customer Service directly at 270-926-4600 Ext 506.

EPA Extends Dicamba Registration

EPA has extended the registration of dicamba until December 20, 2020 for “over-the-top” use to control weeds in fields for cotton and soybeans genetically engineered to resist dicamba.  The extension comes with important new label updates that place additional restrictions on the product.  For the upcoming growing season, only certified applicators may apply dicamba over-the-top.  Over-the-top applications of dicamba on soybeans is prohibited on soybeans 45 days after planting and on cotton 60 days after planting.  The number of these applications will be limited to two and are only allowed from one hour after sunrise to two hours before sunset.

In counties where endangered species may exist, the downwind buffer will remain at 110 feet and there will be a new 57-foot buffer around the other sides of the field (the 110-foot downwind buffer applies to all applications, not just in counties where endangered species may exist).  The training period for 2019 and beyond has been clarified ensuring consistency across all three products.  Other label changes enhance tank clean-out instructions and improve applicator awareness on the impact of low pH’s on the potential volatility of dicamba.  Stay tuned for more information as the new labels become available from the manufacturers.

Congratulations!

Congratulations go out to the 2018 winners of the annual Environmental Respect Awards. The program is sponsored by Corteva Agriscience and CropLife magazine and is the agricultural industry's highest recognition for environmental stewardship. Our most heartfelt congratulations go to each of the winners for their achievement. Members of the Asmark Institute are denoted in red.

Regional Winners
Helena Agri-Enterprises - Dillsboro, IN
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Lumsden - Lumsden, Saskatchewan
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Morganfield - Morganfield, KY
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Salem - Salem, OR
Tri Ag Sales - Hurley, SD
State/Province Champions
Asmus Farm Supply - Rake, IA
CHS - Pocahontas, IL
Haven Agri Service - Kennedyville, MD
Helena Agri-Enterprises - Clarkton, MO
Helena Agri-Enterprises - Dyersburg, TN
Helena Agri-Enterprises - Leachville, AR
Helena Agri-Enterprises - Robstown, TX
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Delta, British Columbia
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Grenada, MS
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Hendersonville, NC
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Linwood, Ml
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Panoka, Alberta, Canada
Simplot Grower Solutions - Madera, CA

OSHA Launches Regional Emphasis Program

OSHA has launched a new Regional Emphasis Program (REP) to address the hazards associated with handling anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate.  You can expect an inspection any time after January 1, 2019.  The REP, issued by OSHA Regions 6 and 7, will apply to all agricultural businesses in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.  If you handle or store fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate or anhydrous ammonia, and are located in these states, make sure you are prepared for a visit on these topics.

The REP begins with a three-month period of education and prevention outreach to encourage employers to bring their facilities into compliance with OSHA standards.  ResponsibleAg can help you prepare for this type of inspection.  The annual investment of $150 per facility for ResponsibleAg membership is considerably less than just one OSHA violation.  If you aren’t currently a member of ResponsibleAg, we recommend you register today and access the checklist and the comprehensive library of first-class materials written in easy-to-understand layman’s terms.  ResponsibleAg includes all the federal regulations that have been found to be applicable to retail agricultural businesses, including the questions OSHA is expected to ask during a REP inspection.

Enforcement activities will begin January 1, 2019 and will run through September 30, 2019.  OSHA has announced it plans to review and enforce implementation of the 29 CFR 1910 Standard, including the use of the General Duty Clause as necessary.

Note:  Don’t dismiss this REP as something that will not affect your facility simply because you don’t handle anhydrous ammonia or ammonium nitrate.  OSHA does not know what products you handle and therefore will be visiting a random selection of all retail agricultural businesses in your state.  If the inspectors see a potential violation - unrelated to anhydrous ammonia or ammonium nitrate - they are permitted to investigate further.  Likewise, if you do handle these products, and the inspector sees a potential violation considered outside the scope of the REP, again the inspector is permitted to investigate further.

It's Time to Register With ResponsibleAg

More than 2,500 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, with 1,229 facilities already receiving their certification. We encourage you to register your facilities today! For more information and to register, go to: www.responsibleag.org

“Tradeshow Truck” Collectible Program - Season 2

The Asmark Institute works to support the retail agricultural industry through a very special partnership with our state association affiliates.  Membership and participation in your state association is more important now than ever before.

This is the second season for the “Tradeshow Truck” collectible program where we hope to meet up with our clients in each state and thank them, while supporting the registration and meeting efforts of our state association partners.

Each year we will produce a special limited edition replica of a truck that will only be available to our Lighthouse retainer clients who register and attend the Trade Show sponsored by their state association.  Shown is the second edition truck and is sure to be collectible due to its very limited production.

We encourage you to watch for our special invitation and register for the meeting in your area, support your state agribusiness association and pick up your collectible.  Hope to see you at the corner of Safe & Sound!

RMP 5-Year Updates Flowing In

Now that Annual Compliance Visits have started, RMP 5-Year Update information is flowing in.  If you have not already started preparing for the update, RMP Tutorials for Program 2 and Program 3 facilities are available in the Tutorials section on Snapshots.  As new Hazard Reviews and Compliance Audits are conducted, be sure to send us a signed file copy for electronic archive.  If you have any questions regarding the RMP 5-Year update for your location, please contact Dustin Warder at 270-926-4600 Ext 203 or dustin@asmark.org.

UPDATE!  Medical Examiner’s Certificate - New Expiration Date

DOT has updated its medical forms with a new expiration date of 9/30/2019.  In September we notified you that the Medical Examination Report Form, MCSA-5875 and Medical Examiner’s Certificate, MCSA-5876, with an expiration date of 8/31/2018, were the most current and should be used until further notice.  October 4th was the last day that these forms could be used, so they are no longer valid and should be thrown away. The new version of the Medical Examination Report Form and the Medical Examiner’s Certificate have been made available by DOT and have been posted on the Asmark Institute website.

Although DOT has historically granted a grace period whenever forms change, they not only declined a grace period for this change, they did not provide public notice it was happening - catching everyone by surprise.  J.J. Keller & Associates reached out to DOT and we have reached out to our Senator asking for public notice and grace periods in the future.  The only change to the form is the expiration date in the upper right hand corner.

DOT also announced that yet another version of the medical forms is in the works. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is taking public comment on the new insulin form, which will require another round of reviews on all DOT medical forms.  The public comment period is open until November 19, 2018, so the OMB will not be able to approve any medical form changes until sometime after that date. We’ll keep you posted as information becomes available on yet more changes to the medical examiner’s forms. If you have any questions, please contact the Driver File Department at 270-926-4600, Ext 501.

New Electronic Training Return Program 2.0 is a Hit!

Launched at the end of August, Version 2 of the Electronic Training Return Program has met with great success.  This new automated process pre-validates the certificates with acceptable barcodes and seamlessly moves them on to the Training Department for authentication, grading and data entry.  Before Version 2.0 was launched, every training certificate had to be manually reviewed to determine if it was accepted or rejected - now, only 10% of the submissions require human intervention.  This translates to smoother sailing for our clients, increased efficiencies for us and lower costs for everyone.

Another success story is the rejection rate has fallen from what was 21% to just 1%.  Great cooperation from our clients, the constant improvement in printing and scanning equipment and the new technology has reduced the rejection rate substantially.  Among other benefits, this reduces frustration for our clients in the uploading process.  Happy Uploading!

OSHA Clarifies Position on Incentive Programs and Drug Testing

OSHA recently issued a memo stating that workplace safety incentive programs and post-incident drug testing are not prohibited.  OSHA believes that many employers who implement safety incentive programs or conduct post-incident drug testing do so to promote workplace safety and health.  Action taken under a safety incentive program or post-incident drug testing policy would only violate OSHA's anti-retaliation rule if the employer took the action to penalize an employee for reporting a work-related injury or illness rather than for the legitimate purpose of promoting workplace safety and health.

The agency also lists several instances of workplace drug testing that are permissible under its regulations, including random drug testing, drug testing unrelated to the reporting of a work-related injury or illness, drug testing under a state workers’ compensation law, drug testing under DOT rules and drug testing to evaluate the root cause of a workplace incident that harmed or could have harmed employees.  Employers that choose to use drug testing to investigate an incident should test all employees whose conduct could have contributed to the incident, not just employees who reported injuries.  For more information, click here.

Quality Training for Experienced Applicators - Registration Now Open

Launching this fall is the second training course in a series: Experienced Applicator Training.  Designed for applicators with three or more years of experience, the two-day course is designed to re-visit the basic skills required to be a professional applicator today.  It’s a “re-boot” experience for seasoned applicators with the new hands-on twist of using virtual 3D reality headsets to teach participants how to identify weeds and double-check their spray orders.

Our clients tell us the past two decades have produced many operators with skills limited to certain products, such as glyphosate.  This dependence on one product has fostered a complacency in the knowledge and skills required to be a professional applicator.  As we re-enter the era of prescription weed control, every field could be a different tank mix in the battle to control pesticide-resistant weeds so it’s critical that applicators are at the top of their game.  Experience shows nearly all application mistakes can be attributed to human factors such as lack of knowledge, fatigue, distraction or the pressures they feel from employers, customers or the weather.

With a combined total of 90 years of experience in the field, this course is led by Greg Yoder and Gary Cornell and will help ensure participants are proficient in the basic skills required of professional applicators.  This course is held in Bloomington, Illinois at the Applicator Training Center and will be offered during the winter months starting in November.  (Not to be confused with the 4-day course for beginners that spans four days and includes the operation of equipment.)

Applicators play a critical role in the success of your organization and continuing education helps applicators to keep up with the ever changing ag industry.  Gone are the good ole days - applicators today must be armed with the skills and knowledge possible to perform their duties as a professional applicator.

Each class is limited to 21 participants, so register today to ensure you get the class date that is convenient for you.  For more information about the course or to register, please click here.

It’s A Wrap! 2018 HazWoper Refresher Season Comes to an End

As we wrap up another successful Emergency Response Refresher season, we would like to thank the hosting facilities who made this training possible.  This year was an especially memorable season - Asmark’s first client, Alvin Schmitt, attended his 20th Refresher class and we had a near-miss experience with Hurricane Florence.  Thanks to the quick coordination efforts of Nancy Vincek with Nutrien Ag Solutions and the instructors, classes were rescheduled and locations moved so affected locations and participants could take care of their facilities, homes and loved ones.

During the 2018 season, lead instructor Billy Basham and his assistant Ed Wallace, traveled over 25,000 miles across the country, where they trained at 68 hosting locations in 30 different states. They were on the road for more than 18 weeks this year and trained over 1,750 participants – not even the threat of a natural disaster like Hurricane Florence could stop these two dedicated trainers.

The 2019 season is on the horizon and eligible individuals in Southwestern U.S. (AZ, CA, LA, NM, TX, MS) will receive their 2019 invitations in early December. For more information or questions, please contact Patricia at patricia@asmark.org or 270-926-4600 Ext 234.

Confined Space Citations Issued

OSHA recently cited a Georgia peanut processing facility for safety and health violations after conducting a follow-up inspection as part of a formal settlement with the agency. The company now faces $309,505 in proposed penalties.  OSHA cited the company for failing to develop and implement procedures for confined space entry, train employees on confined space hazards, reduce compressed air to the required level and meet recordkeeping requirements.

The company has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

EPA Appeals Chlorpyrifos Ban Ruling

EPA has requested a rehearing of the decision by a three-judge panel to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances and cancel all chlorpyrifos registrations within 60 days.  All registrations and tolerances will remain in effect while the court considers the government’s request.  There is not yet any indication of the court’s timetable for review.  The request seeks rehearing either by the three-judge panel or by the entire 9th Circuit.

More Stringent Application Rules in Oregon

Oregon OSHA has adopted rules that increase protections against pesticide drift when pesticides are being applied outdoors.  The rules add more stringent safeguards to the EPA’s Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ).  The state AEZ is 100 feet when the pesticide applicator is not required to use a respirator.  People must stay out of the AEZ for an additional 15 minutes, either by staying indoors or remaining evacuated.  The state AEZ expands to 150 feet when the pesticide applicator is required to use a respirator.  People must stay out of the AEZ for an additional 15 minutes with no option to stay indoors.

Other additional requirements include closing doors and windows and air intakes before people evacuate or remain inside an enclosed agricultural structure, and providing closable storage areas for shoes or boots to prevent tracking of pesticides into worker housing.  For more information click here.

National Labor Law Poster Updates

Considering the magnitude of state and federal agencies in existence today, it’s no surprise that labor laws are constantly changing.  The Federal Wage and Labor Law Institute (FWLLI) tracks these updates for us and we provide results for you.  Wondering if you need a poster update?  Click here to check for the latest Federal and/or State updates to the labor law posters.

Allen Summers Announces Retirement

After 30 years as the President of Asmark, Allen Summers will retire at the end of 2018.  His career in agriculture spans more than 44 years as a farmer, distributor, retailer and founder of the Asmark Institute.  Widely recognized for their vision, work ethic and generous contribution to the agricultural industry, Allen and his wife Susan recount their time at Asmark as being a whirlwind of truly amazing opportunities.  Always up to the task, the creative couple loved building solutions for people - many of which were pioneered specifically for the ag industry.

“Working at Asmark has been a privilege.  We worked with the best of the best, and with the full cooperation and support of our clients and affiliates, created solutions that filled needs.  A hands-on approach to succession planning has resulted in knowing that we are leaving the organization in great hands,” said Allen.  Amber M. Duke will take his place as the President/CEO while Megan Hill, Manager of Data & Processes will replace Susan.  Rounding out the management team are Brian Mason, Manager of Accounting & Finances and Eric Rasor, Manager of Website Technology.

Annual Compliance Season Kicks Off! 

Annual Compliance Season kicked off Monday, October 22nd with the launch of the Compliance Wizard. The Compliance Wizard is a web-based feature that utilizes logic to guide the user through the annual compliance visit process. Built-in checks and balances help ensure that all required reports are completed and accurate.

New this year, a refresher tutorial has been created to help prepare EHS&S staff and facility personnel for the changes in the process from last year and also serve as a refresher on the important aspects of retrieving the report data this year. The refresher tutorial can be found on the first page of the Compliance Wizard.  Instructions for completing your annual compliance visit using the Compliance Wizard have been sent out, so watch your mail.

The deadline to have compliance visits completed is December 31, 2018. For questions please contact Dustin Warder at 270-926-4600 Ext 203 or Customer Service at 270-926-4600 Ext 506.

MyScore is Helping Farm Centers Measure Up!

Since the official launch of MyScore on July 1st, we have continued to see clients working towards providing a safer workplace for their employees as their MyScore continues to rise.  The benchmark, which started at 72, has risen 5-6 points to reach a point teetering around the 77-78 level in just a little over 3 months.  As compliance season is underway, there will be a renewed emphasis on the MyScore to assist the locations in developing a plan for improvement if needed. MyScore is designed to promote the continuous, systematic process of proactively identifying and tracking risk management efforts at retail agrichemical facilities.

To date, there have been eight Alabama Farmers Cooperative (AFC) locations that started with and have maintained a perfect MyScore of 100% for both their daily and yearly scores.  This is a huge accomplishment and an indicator of their focused efforts to responding to things timely and staying in compliance.  We applaud the efforts of the AFC locations who have maintained 100%, as they serve as an example for all.

Are you monitoring your MyScore?  To better understand your facility’s score and the actions required to take it up a notch, don’t hesitate to call Customer Service directly at 270-926-4600 Ext 506.

EPA Extends Dicamba Registration

EPA has extended the registration of dicamba until December 20, 2020 for “over-the-top” use to control weeds in fields for cotton and soybeans genetically engineered to resist dicamba.  The extension comes with important new label updates that place additional restrictions on the product.  For the upcoming growing season, only certified applicators may apply dicamba over-the-top.  Over-the-top applications of dicamba on soybeans is prohibited on soybeans 45 days after planting and on cotton 60 days after planting.  The number of these applications will be limited to two and are only allowed from one hour after sunrise to two hours before sunset.

In counties where endangered species may exist, the downwind buffer will remain at 110 feet and there will be a new 57-foot buffer around the other sides of the field (the 110-foot downwind buffer applies to all applications, not just in counties where endangered species may exist).  The training period for 2019 and beyond has been clarified ensuring consistency across all three products.  Other label changes enhance tank clean-out instructions and improve applicator awareness on the impact of low pH’s on the potential volatility of dicamba.  Stay tuned for more information as the new labels become available from the manufacturers.

Congratulations!

Congratulations go out to the 2018 winners of the annual Environmental Respect Awards. The program is sponsored by Corteva Agriscience and CropLife magazine and is the agricultural industry's highest recognition for environmental stewardship. Our most heartfelt congratulations go to each of the winners for their achievement. Members of the Asmark Institute are denoted in red.

Regional Winners
Helena Agri-Enterprises - Dillsboro, IN
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Lumsden - Lumsden, Saskatchewan
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Morganfield - Morganfield, KY
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Salem - Salem, OR
Tri Ag Sales - Hurley, SD
State/Province Champions
Asmus Farm Supply - Rake, IA
CHS - Pocahontas, IL
Haven Agri Service - Kennedyville, MD
Helena Agri-Enterprises - Clarkton, MO
Helena Agri-Enterprises - Dyersburg, TN
Helena Agri-Enterprises - Leachville, AR
Helena Agri-Enterprises - Robstown, TX
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Delta, British Columbia
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Grenada, MS
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Hendersonville, NC
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Linwood, Ml
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada
Nutrien Ag Solutions - Panoka, Alberta, Canada
Simplot Grower Solutions - Madera, CA

OSHA Launches Regional Emphasis Program

OSHA has launched a new Regional Emphasis Program (REP) to address the hazards associated with handling anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate.  You can expect an inspection any time after January 1, 2019.  The REP, issued by OSHA Regions 6 and 7, will apply to all agricultural businesses in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.  If you handle or store fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate or anhydrous ammonia, and are located in these states, make sure you are prepared for a visit on these topics.

The REP begins with a three-month period of education and prevention outreach to encourage employers to bring their facilities into compliance with OSHA standards.  ResponsibleAg can help you prepare for this type of inspection.  The annual investment of $150 per facility for ResponsibleAg membership is considerably less than just one OSHA violation.  If you aren’t currently a member of ResponsibleAg, we recommend you register today and access the checklist and the comprehensive library of first-class materials written in easy-to-understand layman’s terms.  ResponsibleAg includes all the federal regulations that have been found to be applicable to retail agricultural businesses, including the questions OSHA is expected to ask during a REP inspection.

Enforcement activities will begin January 1, 2019 and will run through September 30, 2019.  OSHA has announced it plans to review and enforce implementation of the 29 CFR 1910 Standard, including the use of the General Duty Clause as necessary.

Note:  Don’t dismiss this REP as something that will not affect your facility simply because you don’t handle anhydrous ammonia or ammonium nitrate.  OSHA does not know what products you handle and therefore will be visiting a random selection of all retail agricultural businesses in your state.  If the inspectors see a potential violation - unrelated to anhydrous ammonia or ammonium nitrate - they are permitted to investigate further.  Likewise, if you do handle these products, and the inspector sees a potential violation considered outside the scope of the REP, again the inspector is permitted to investigate further.

It's Time to Register With ResponsibleAg

More than 2,500 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, with 1,229 facilities already receiving their certification. We encourage you to register your facilities today! For more information and to register, go to: www.responsibleag.org

“Tradeshow Truck” Collectible Program - Season 2

The Asmark Institute works to support the retail agricultural industry through a very special partnership with our state association affiliates.  Membership and participation in your state association is more important now than ever before.

This is the second season for the “Tradeshow Truck” collectible program where we hope to meet up with our clients in each state and thank them, while supporting the registration and meeting efforts of our state association partners.

Each year we will produce a special limited edition replica of a truck that will only be available to our Lighthouse retainer clients who register and attend the Trade Show sponsored by their state association.  Shown is the second edition truck and is sure to be collectible due to its very limited production.

We encourage you to watch for our special invitation and register for the meeting in your area, support your state agribusiness association and pick up your collectible.  Hope to see you at the corner of Safe & Sound!

RMP 5-Year Updates Flowing In

Now that Annual Compliance Visits have started, RMP 5-Year Update information is flowing in.  If you have not already started preparing for the update, RMP Tutorials for Program 2 and Program 3 facilities are available in the Tutorials section on Snapshots.  As new Hazard Reviews and Compliance Audits are conducted, be sure to send us a signed file copy for electronic archive.  If you have any questions regarding the RMP 5-Year update for your location, please contact Dustin Warder at 270-926-4600 Ext 203 or dustin@asmark.org.

UPDATE!  Medical Examiner’s Certificate - New Expiration Date

DOT has updated its medical forms with a new expiration date of 9/30/2019.  In September we notified you that the Medical Examination Report Form, MCSA-5875 and Medical Examiner’s Certificate, MCSA-5876, with an expiration date of 8/31/2018, were the most current and should be used until further notice.  October 4th was the last day that these forms could be used, so they are no longer valid and should be thrown away. The new version of the Medical Examination Report Form and the Medical Examiner’s Certificate have been made available by DOT and have been posted on the Asmark Institute website.

Although DOT has historically granted a grace period whenever forms change, they not only declined a grace period for this change, they did not provide public notice it was happening - catching everyone by surprise.  J.J. Keller & Associates reached out to DOT and we have reached out to our Senator asking for public notice and grace periods in the future.  The only change to the form is the expiration date in the upper right hand corner.

DOT also announced that yet another version of the medical forms is in the works. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is taking public comment on the new insulin form, which will require another round of reviews on all DOT medical forms.  The public comment period is open until November 19, 2018, so the OMB will not be able to approve any medical form changes until sometime after that date. We’ll keep you posted as information becomes available on yet more changes to the medical examiner’s forms. If you have any questions, please contact the Driver File Department at 270-926-4600, Ext 501.

New Electronic Training Return Program 2.0 is a Hit!

Launched at the end of August, Version 2 of the Electronic Training Return Program has met with great success.  This new automated process pre-validates the certificates with acceptable barcodes and seamlessly moves them on to the Training Department for authentication, grading and data entry.  Before Version 2.0 was launched, every training certificate had to be manually reviewed to determine if it was accepted or rejected - now, only 10% of the submissions require human intervention.  This translates to smoother sailing for our clients, increased efficiencies for us and lower costs for everyone.

Another success story is the rejection rate has fallen from what was 21% to just 1%.  Great cooperation from our clients, the constant improvement in printing and scanning equipment and the new technology has reduced the rejection rate substantially.  Among other benefits, this reduces frustration for our clients in the uploading process.  Happy Uploading!

OSHA Clarifies Position on Incentive Programs and Drug Testing

OSHA recently issued a memo stating that workplace safety incentive programs and post-incident drug testing are not prohibited.  OSHA believes that many employers who implement safety incentive programs or conduct post-incident drug testing do so to promote workplace safety and health.  Action taken under a safety incentive program or post-incident drug testing policy would only violate OSHA's anti-retaliation rule if the employer took the action to penalize an employee for reporting a work-related injury or illness rather than for the legitimate purpose of promoting workplace safety and health.

The agency also lists several instances of workplace drug testing that are permissible under its regulations, including random drug testing, drug testing unrelated to the reporting of a work-related injury or illness, drug testing under a state workers’ compensation law, drug testing under DOT rules and drug testing to evaluate the root cause of a workplace incident that harmed or could have harmed employees.  Employers that choose to use drug testing to investigate an incident should test all employees whose conduct could have contributed to the incident, not just employees who reported injuries.  For more information, click here.

Quality Training for Experienced Applicators - Registration Now Open

Launching this fall is the second training course in a series: Experienced Applicator Training.  Designed for applicators with three or more years of experience, the two-day course is designed to re-visit the basic skills required to be a professional applicator today.  It’s a “re-boot” experience for seasoned applicators with the new hands-on twist of using virtual 3D reality headsets to teach participants how to identify weeds and double-check their spray orders.

Our clients tell us the past two decades have produced many operators with skills limited to certain products, such as glyphosate.  This dependence on one product has fostered a complacency in the knowledge and skills required to be a professional applicator.  As we re-enter the era of prescription weed control, every field could be a different tank mix in the battle to control pesticide-resistant weeds so it’s critical that applicators are at the top of their game.  Experience shows nearly all application mistakes can be attributed to human factors such as lack of knowledge, fatigue, distraction or the pressures they feel from employers, customers or the weather.

With a combined total of 90 years of experience in the field, this course is led by Greg Yoder and Gary Cornell and will help ensure participants are proficient in the basic skills required of professional applicators.  This course is held in Bloomington, Illinois at the Applicator Training Center and will be offered during the winter months starting in November.  (Not to be confused with the 4-day course for beginners that spans four days and includes the operation of equipment.)

Applicators play a critical role in the success of your organization and continuing education helps applicators to keep up with the ever changing ag industry.  Gone are the good ole days - applicators today must be armed with the skills and knowledge possible to perform their duties as a professional applicator.

Each class is limited to 21 participants, so register today to ensure you get the class date that is convenient for you.  For more information about the course or to register, please click here.

It’s A Wrap! 2018 HazWoper Refresher Season Comes to an End

As we wrap up another successful Emergency Response Refresher season, we would like to thank the hosting facilities who made this training possible.  This year was an especially memorable season - Asmark’s first client, Alvin Schmitt, attended his 20th Refresher class and we had a near-miss experience with Hurricane Florence.  Thanks to the quick coordination efforts of Nancy Vincek with Nutrien Ag Solutions and the instructors, classes were rescheduled and locations moved so affected locations and participants could take care of their facilities, homes and loved ones.

During the 2018 season, lead instructor Billy Basham and his assistant Ed Wallace, traveled over 25,000 miles across the country, where they trained at 68 hosting locations in 30 different states. They were on the road for more than 18 weeks this year and trained over 1,750 participants – not even the threat of a natural disaster like Hurricane Florence could stop these two dedicated trainers.

The 2019 season is on the horizon and eligible individuals in Southwestern U.S. (AZ, CA, LA, NM, TX, MS) will receive their 2019 invitations in early December. For more information or questions, please contact Patricia at patricia@asmark.org or 270-926-4600 Ext 234.

Confined Space Citations Issued

OSHA recently cited a Georgia peanut processing facility for safety and health violations after conducting a follow-up inspection as part of a formal settlement with the agency. The company now faces $309,505 in proposed penalties.  OSHA cited the company for failing to develop and implement procedures for confined space entry, train employees on confined space hazards, reduce compressed air to the required level and meet recordkeeping requirements.

The company has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

EPA Appeals Chlorpyrifos Ban Ruling

EPA has requested a rehearing of the decision by a three-judge panel to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances and cancel all chlorpyrifos registrations within 60 days.  All registrations and tolerances will remain in effect while the court considers the government’s request.  There is not yet any indication of the court’s timetable for review.  The request seeks rehearing either by the three-judge panel or by the entire 9th Circuit.

More Stringent Application Rules in Oregon

Oregon OSHA has adopted rules that increase protections against pesticide drift when pesticides are being applied outdoors.  The rules add more stringent safeguards to the EPA’s Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ).  The state AEZ is 100 feet when the pesticide applicator is not required to use a respirator.  People must stay out of the AEZ for an additional 15 minutes, either by staying indoors or remaining evacuated.  The state AEZ expands to 150 feet when the pesticide applicator is required to use a respirator.  People must stay out of the AEZ for an additional 15 minutes with no option to stay indoors.

Other additional requirements include closing doors and windows and air intakes before people evacuate or remain inside an enclosed agricultural structure, and providing closable storage areas for shoes or boots to prevent tracking of pesticides into worker housing.  For more information click here.

National Labor Law Poster Updates

Considering the magnitude of state and federal agencies in existence today, it’s no surprise that labor laws are constantly changing.  The Federal Wage and Labor Law Institute (FWLLI) tracks these updates for us and we provide results for you.  Wondering if you need a poster update?  Click here to check for the latest Federal and/or State updates to the labor law posters.
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.