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Volume 184
March 1, 2019

Spring "Busy Season" Is Upon Us!

As we enter the spring season, we want you to know that we have purposely tried to conclude as many of the paperwork requirements as we could to be outside of your busiest time of the year. We know there are plenty of rules and requirements that still apply but if we stop to consider for a moment, they all are in place for a reason. With that thought we want to extend our best wishes to you and your staff for a safe and prosperous 2019!

SARA Reminder: March 1st Deadline

SARA Tier II submissions are due today - March 1st. Penalties have become quite severe for non-compliance, so please make sure your report(s) were submitted to their State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Commission (LEPC) and Fire Department (FD). Don't forget to follow your state's instructions to pay any applicable fees. If you haven't already, please make sure to scan and upload a file copy to the Hub for archiving on Snapshots.

Facilities that are in Year One states for the new Encamp SARA Tier II filing program have been sent file copies of the final submissions filed with the SERC, LEPC and FD.  File copies will also be posted to Snapshots in the Archives.  If you haven't already received your file copies, it won't be long.  Click here to see which year your state falls into in the three year roll out of the Encamp SARA Tier II filing program.

SARA Tier II March 1st Deadline Extended for Texas

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has allowed for an extension of the March 1st deadline to file the annual SARA Tier II report.  The launch of the new state reporting system STEERS is the reason for the extension, as the state is still working a few of the bugs out.  Encamp is closely working with the TCEQ on a daily basis, and will have all Tier II submissions completed shortly after March 1st.  As Encamp has been proactive for the past few weeks trying to work with the STEERS program, there will be no penalty for any Asmark client based in Texas.

Pesticide-Production Report Update

Asmark Institute has submitted and documented receipt of the Pesticide Production Report by U.S. EPA for each of our clients on record with an EPA Establishment Number. All annual reports were received by U.S. EPA by the deadline. We have worked closely with U.S. EPA to develop the new electronic reporting system. One benefit is the ability to produce and send file copies along with the documentation showing EPA has received your submission much quicker. You may have already received your documentation, but if you haven't it won't be long.

New!  MyScore Tip Sheet

Since the release of the MyScore feature, we've received many phone calls and inquiries on how to achieve a higher score.  From that interest, we put together a tip sheet to help raise your MyScore.

Click here for a printable PDF.

4 Tips to improve your MyScore

REMINDER! Renew DOT Physicals Before Season

Spring season is just around the corner, so now is a great time to renew your DOT physicals.  Be sure to select a registered medical examiner that is listed on the National Registry.  It is suggested that you contact your healthcare professional directly to verify if they are certified and listed on the the National Registry.

Each Certified Medical Examiner on the National Registry is provided a certificate from FMCSA confirming their approval to conduct Department of Transportation Examinations.  This certificate can be used to determine if the individual conducting your exam is approved to do so.  You can also search the National Registry by number by clicking here.

Farmer George

As we celebrated Presidents' Day this month and February 22nd marked George Washington's birthday, we found some interesting history on our first President.  Not only was Washington America's first President, he was also an accomplished farmer who took great pride in being known as a farmer.  In fact, he thought of himself first as a farmer and devoted his life to the improvement of American agriculture. While he is most commonly referred to as "The Father of our Country," he is also "The Father of Agriculture." Twenty-three of the forty-six years he lived in Mount Vernon were spent as an actual farmer.  Washington was an early and active proponent of crop rotations as he observed how "ruinous to the soil" it was to grow tobacco year after year.  Realizing that tobacco was not sustainable, he switched to grains.  He incorporated a five-year rotation, which included wheat, hay, buckwheat, clover, potatoes and turnips.

A few other interesting facts on Washington's life as a farmer:
  • He was mostly self-educated. His formal education ended at 15, but his pursuit of knowledge continued throughout his life.  He was an avid reader and exchanged ideas frequently with authors and friends in America and Europe on farming practices.
  • His estate was valued at $530,000 with 60,000 acres of land when he died.  Mount Vernon comprised 8,000 acres with 3,200 of it under cultivation. 
  • He raised over 300 head of cattle and nearly 1,000 sheep in Mount Vernon.
  • According to a 1920 article found in the Successful Farming archives, "the latest implements and tools were constantly being brought from England to Mount Vernon" by Washington. Although he developed his own deep soil plow, when hearing of another new plow in England, the Rotheran, he ordered one for use on his own farm.
Washington's contributions to America as both a farmer and President are much to be celebrated and remembered.  Thank you, Farmer George!

Check Out the CropLife Dicamba Upate Series

The third season dealing with Dicamba is fast approaching, stressing the importance of ensuring rules and labels are followed, best practices are enforced and crops are kept safe.  Don’t forget to check out the CropLife Dicamba Update Series for practical information on dicamba regulations.  You’ll see:
  • Equipment and best practice tips and reminders
  • Interviews with leading experts
  • Q & A feature articles with retailers on the front lines
  • Perspectives from dicamba suppliers
  • Label and regulatory information
Click here to check out today’s tip.

Internet Explorer:  Soon To Be A Thing Of The Past

This past week, Microsoft came out and declared they will no longer be supporting the web browser Internet Explorer.  For the past 24 years, many people and businesses have relied on Internet Explorer for everything from browsing to day-to-day business work - it has been referred to as a popular and easy-to-use browser over the years.  Now, Chris Jackson with Microsoft announces that Internet Explorer is more of a “compatibility solution” rather than a web browser, and Microsoft will not be supporting it with new web standards.  Instead, they are encouraging the use of more modern browsers.

Asmark, like the majority of all other businesses, has been using Internet Explorer for the past 2 decades.  However, our programmers anticipated this change and have been developing our website to be compatible with the modern browsers for the past few years.  Now that Internet Explorer is no longer being supported, we primarily encourage the use of the web browser Firefox when using our website.  Due to the nature of the use of our business and website, we are cautious and thoughtful when it comes to using web browsers - and although technology is always changing these days, Firefox is currently the browser that best fits our needs for security and functionality.

Farm-Related (Seasonal) CDL Report Updated

First prepared in 2010, this timely report - Farm-Related Restricted CDL Update - summarizes each state’s requirements for the Farm-Related (Seasonal) CDL.  The report has helped a lot of our clients cut through the confusion they encounter on this subject.  Once again, Joann has reviewed each state's rule and found that 23 of the 50 states offer the Farm-Related or Seasonal License.

The federal government allows states to issue this type of CDL but does not mandate their participation or support - which generates a fair amount of confusion. The “seasonal” CDL is very beneficial to our industry especially during peak seasons and are only issued to farm-related industries, which include farm retail outlets and suppliers, agrichemical businesses, custom harvesters and livestock feeders, for Class B or C vehicles.  Click here to view the updated Farm-Related Restricted CDL Update Report. If you have any questions or need more information, or contact Joann at Ext 229 or by email at joann@asmark.org.

“Tradeshow Truck” Wrap Up - See You Next Year!

The Asmark Institute “Tradeshow Truck” collectible program wrapped up its second season, providing us with lots of opportunities to meet, greet and thank our clients.  This program continues to allow us to meet up with our clients in each state and thank them, while supporting the registration and meeting efforts of our state association partners.  This year, Donna traveled to 13 states, shook hands with hundreds of clients and ag industry folks and distributed the trucks.

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 Tradeshow or Annual Meeting sponsored by their state association. Stay tuned for the reveal of the third edition Tradeshow Truck coming this summer.

Once the 2019-2020 Tradeshow season starts up, 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.  See you next year!

Instructor Spotlight - John Lee

What do grain, Barbie dolls and training have in common? An industry expert who is an educator at heart, who uses some custom-made props and fun toys to demonstrate a variety of scenarios that reveal the dangers associated with grain and grain engulfment. John Lee, with the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois (GFAI), is the lead instructor for the Asmark Institute’s Safe Grain Handling Courses in Bloomington, IL.  With more than three decades in the grain industry, John is truly an expert with an invaluable amount of knowledge to share.

John is a native of central Illinois and earned a Bachelor's degree in Occupational Safety from Illinois State University.  After graduation, John worked as a Loss Control Representative for Grain Dealers Mutual Insurance.  Then in 1997, he became the Director of the Safety-Health-Environmental services program for GFAI, serving 145 grain companies representing over 1,000 facilities in Illinois. John works with State and Federal OSHA and EPA offices for the benefit of the grain and feed industry in Illinois.  In addition, he conducts employee safety training, assists members in maintaining safety programs, conducts safety audits and visible emissions tests.  Several years ago, GFAI joined forces with OSHA through their Partnership/Alliance program to leverage resources and expertise to help ensure safe and healthy workplaces in the grain industry.  John has also written and directed two safety videos.

In 2013, John became the lead instructor of the Asmark Institute’s Safe Grain Handling Courses.  During the courses, he explains how it only takes 4-5 seconds to become entrapped and helpless in small grain bins and 10-20 seconds for complete engulfment in large commercial grain bins.  For demonstration purposes, John selects willing participants to play the role of engulfment victims.  Most participants are astonished at how quickly they can become entrapped and how long it takes to safely enter and rescue an engulfed victim.  Some demonstrations that utilize moving parts are too risky to use a real person. In these cases, John uses scaled down models and his lovely assistant “Barbie” steps in to show how life threatening these hazards can be.  Another popular demonstration is the re-creation of a grain dust explosion. John has a lot of fun blowing things up during the dust explosion re-enactment, proving that like most men, he is still a big kid at heart.  To learn more about the Safe Grain Training Courses and to register, click here.  The March course is filling up, so sign up soon!

OSHA Increases Penalty Amounts for 2019

The penalties for citations issued against employers for safety violations have gone up for 2019.  OSHA has announced the adjustments for inflation.  The maximum penalty that can be issued for serious, other-than-serious, and posting requirement citations increases to $13,260 per violation and the highest amount that can be issued for willful and repeat violations increases to $132,598 per violation.  Going forward, expect to see these adjustments by January 15th of each new year.

It's Time to Register With ResponsibleAg

More than 2,560 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, with 1,355 facilities already receiving their certification. We encourage you to register your facilities today! For more information and to register, go to: www.responsibleag.org

OSHA Clarifies Enforcement Policy for Respiratory Hazards Not Covered by PELs

OSHA has issued a memo that clarifies its existing policy for developing citations under the general duty clause for respiratory hazards from exposure to an air contaminant that is not covered by an OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL).  A PEL is the maximum allowable concentration for which workers may be exposed.  OSHA has not updated its PELs in decades, but here are other entities that publish Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) such as EPA, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. In many instances, these OELs are lower than OSHA’s PELs.

The general duty clause requires each employer to "furnish to each of their employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm."  The following elements must be established for OSHA to prove a violation of the general duty clause:
  1. The employer failed to keep the workplace free of a hazard to which employees of that employer were exposed;
  2. The hazard was recognized;
  3. The hazard was causing, or was likely to cause, death or serious physical harm; and
  4. There was a feasible and useful method to correct the hazard.
The memo states that unless the case file evidence proves all four of the above elements, the OSHA Area Office should issue a hazard alert letter (HAL) instead of a citation.  If there is sufficient proof of the four elements, the Area Office should issue a citation for a general duty clause violation.  OSHA’s memo states that when these elements are applied to respiratory hazards, general duty clause citations should not be “based solely on evidence that a measured exposure exceeded a recommended occupational exposure limit.”  The memo provides additional guidance for developing evidence for each of the four general duty clause elements when specifically applied to respiratory hazards.  Click here to view the full text of the memo on OSHA’s website.

CSA: Navigating the System Safely Recap

Another successful Asmark Institute Inspire program occurred on February 12th with EHS&S professionals from 5 states attending.  Our thanks to Mike Templeton, who is a Surface Transportation Consultant with over 30 years experience, for his presentation to the group.  Attendees discussed the existing Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) system in detail including point value scenarios and categories for improvement.  Also, the changes currently scheduled for September 2019 were a hot topic. 

The new CSA methodology will be based on an Item Response Theory (IRT) model, which is a more scientific way to approach scores.  Crash risk will be replaced with a safety culture score.  So once all of the planned changes take place there will no longer be violation weights, CSA points or BASIC measures, but only a single safety culture score that compares carriers to everyone rather than only a peer group.  We appreciate everyone that made the trip to attend this event and look forward to more events like this in the future.

From Mirrors to Cameras: DOT’s New Exemption

DOT recently granted an exemption that allows commercial trucks to use a camera system instead of rear view mirrors.  The exemption applies to Stoneridge’s MirrorEye Camera Monitor System (CMS) and is good for 5 years.  The agency has determined that granting the exemption to allow use of the CMS in lieu of mirrors would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety provided by the regulation.

The CMS consists of multiple digital cameras mounted on the exterior of the vehicle. According to the manufacturer, CMS gives drivers a greater field of view by an estimated 25 percent, has enhanced visual quality and allows for trailer panning to potentially eliminate incidents involving pedestrians or bicyclist while making right-hand turns.  If the camera or monitor system fails while the driver is operating on a public road, the driver must stop driving until the system is fixed or is replaced with standard mirrors. For more information on this exemption, click here.

Do You Still Have Double Safety Chains?

If you haven’t already, take a look at the openings to the fixed ladders at your facility.  As part of the Walking-Working Surfaces rule, OSHA requires that employees be protected from falling into a ladderway floor hole or ladderway platform hole by a guardrail system and toeboards on all exposed sides, except at the entrance to the hole, where a self-closing gate or an offset must be used.

Where in the past double safety chains may have been used as safeguards, the only two options for protection now are a self-closing gate or an offset passage.  This change removes the need for the employee to take action to restore the protection.

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.

Spring "Busy Season" Is Upon Us!

As we enter the spring season, we want you to know that we have purposely tried to conclude as many of the paperwork requirements as we could to be outside of your busiest time of the year. We know there are plenty of rules and requirements that still apply but if we stop to consider for a moment, they all are in place for a reason. With that thought we want to extend our best wishes to you and your staff for a safe and prosperous 2019!

SARA Reminder: March 1st Deadline

SARA Tier II submissions are due today - March 1st. Penalties have become quite severe for non-compliance, so please make sure your report(s) were submitted to their State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Commission (LEPC) and Fire Department (FD). Don't forget to follow your state's instructions to pay any applicable fees. If you haven't already, please make sure to scan and upload a file copy to the Hub for archiving on Snapshots.

Facilities that are in Year One states for the new Encamp SARA Tier II filing program have been sent file copies of the final submissions filed with the SERC, LEPC and FD.  File copies will also be posted to Snapshots in the Archives.  If you haven't already received your file copies, it won't be long.  Click here to see which year your state falls into in the three year roll out of the Encamp SARA Tier II filing program.

SARA Tier II March 1st Deadline Extended for Texas

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has allowed for an extension of the March 1st deadline to file the annual SARA Tier II report.  The launch of the new state reporting system STEERS is the reason for the extension, as the state is still working a few of the bugs out.  Encamp is closely working with the TCEQ on a daily basis, and will have all Tier II submissions completed shortly after March 1st.  As Encamp has been proactive for the past few weeks trying to work with the STEERS program, there will be no penalty for any Asmark client based in Texas.

Pesticide-Production Report Update

Asmark Institute has submitted and documented receipt of the Pesticide Production Report by U.S. EPA for each of our clients on record with an EPA Establishment Number. All annual reports were received by U.S. EPA by the deadline. We have worked closely with U.S. EPA to develop the new electronic reporting system. One benefit is the ability to produce and send file copies along with the documentation showing EPA has received your submission much quicker. You may have already received your documentation, but if you haven't it won't be long.

New!  MyScore Tip Sheet

Since the release of the MyScore feature, we've received many phone calls and inquiries on how to achieve a higher score.  From that interest, we put together a tip sheet to help raise your MyScore.

Click here for a printable PDF.

4 Tips to improve your MyScore

REMINDER! Renew DOT Physicals Before Season

Spring season is just around the corner, so now is a great time to renew your DOT physicals.  Be sure to select a registered medical examiner that is listed on the National Registry.  It is suggested that you contact your healthcare professional directly to verify if they are certified and listed on the the National Registry.

Each Certified Medical Examiner on the National Registry is provided a certificate from FMCSA confirming their approval to conduct Department of Transportation Examinations.  This certificate can be used to determine if the individual conducting your exam is approved to do so.  You can also search the National Registry by number by clicking here.

Farmer George

As we celebrated Presidents' Day this month and February 22nd marked George Washington's birthday, we found some interesting history on our first President.  Not only was Washington America's first President, he was also an accomplished farmer who took great pride in being known as a farmer.  In fact, he thought of himself first as a farmer and devoted his life to the improvement of American agriculture. While he is most commonly referred to as "The Father of our Country," he is also "The Father of Agriculture." Twenty-three of the forty-six years he lived in Mount Vernon were spent as an actual farmer.  Washington was an early and active proponent of crop rotations as he observed how "ruinous to the soil" it was to grow tobacco year after year.  Realizing that tobacco was not sustainable, he switched to grains.  He incorporated a five-year rotation, which included wheat, hay, buckwheat, clover, potatoes and turnips.

A few other interesting facts on Washington's life as a farmer:
  • He was mostly self-educated. His formal education ended at 15, but his pursuit of knowledge continued throughout his life.  He was an avid reader and exchanged ideas frequently with authors and friends in America and Europe on farming practices.
  • His estate was valued at $530,000 with 60,000 acres of land when he died.  Mount Vernon comprised 8,000 acres with 3,200 of it under cultivation. 
  • He raised over 300 head of cattle and nearly 1,000 sheep in Mount Vernon.
  • According to a 1920 article found in the Successful Farming archives, "the latest implements and tools were constantly being brought from England to Mount Vernon" by Washington. Although he developed his own deep soil plow, when hearing of another new plow in England, the Rotheran, he ordered one for use on his own farm.
Washington's contributions to America as both a farmer and President are much to be celebrated and remembered.  Thank you, Farmer George!

Check Out the CropLife Dicamba Upate Series

The third season dealing with Dicamba is fast approaching, stressing the importance of ensuring rules and labels are followed, best practices are enforced and crops are kept safe.  Don’t forget to check out the CropLife Dicamba Update Series for practical information on dicamba regulations.  You’ll see:
  • Equipment and best practice tips and reminders
  • Interviews with leading experts
  • Q & A feature articles with retailers on the front lines
  • Perspectives from dicamba suppliers
  • Label and regulatory information
Click here to check out today’s tip.

Internet Explorer:  Soon To Be A Thing Of The Past

This past week, Microsoft came out and declared they will no longer be supporting the web browser Internet Explorer.  For the past 24 years, many people and businesses have relied on Internet Explorer for everything from browsing to day-to-day business work - it has been referred to as a popular and easy-to-use browser over the years.  Now, Chris Jackson with Microsoft announces that Internet Explorer is more of a “compatibility solution” rather than a web browser, and Microsoft will not be supporting it with new web standards.  Instead, they are encouraging the use of more modern browsers.

Asmark, like the majority of all other businesses, has been using Internet Explorer for the past 2 decades.  However, our programmers anticipated this change and have been developing our website to be compatible with the modern browsers for the past few years.  Now that Internet Explorer is no longer being supported, we primarily encourage the use of the web browser Firefox when using our website.  Due to the nature of the use of our business and website, we are cautious and thoughtful when it comes to using web browsers - and although technology is always changing these days, Firefox is currently the browser that best fits our needs for security and functionality.

Farm-Related (Seasonal) CDL Report Updated

First prepared in 2010, this timely report - Farm-Related Restricted CDL Update - summarizes each state’s requirements for the Farm-Related (Seasonal) CDL.  The report has helped a lot of our clients cut through the confusion they encounter on this subject.  Once again, Joann has reviewed each state's rule and found that 23 of the 50 states offer the Farm-Related or Seasonal License.

The federal government allows states to issue this type of CDL but does not mandate their participation or support - which generates a fair amount of confusion. The “seasonal” CDL is very beneficial to our industry especially during peak seasons and are only issued to farm-related industries, which include farm retail outlets and suppliers, agrichemical businesses, custom harvesters and livestock feeders, for Class B or C vehicles.  Click here to view the updated Farm-Related Restricted CDL Update Report. If you have any questions or need more information, or contact Joann at Ext 229 or by email at joann@asmark.org.

“Tradeshow Truck” Wrap Up - See You Next Year!

The Asmark Institute “Tradeshow Truck” collectible program wrapped up its second season, providing us with lots of opportunities to meet, greet and thank our clients.  This program continues to allow us to meet up with our clients in each state and thank them, while supporting the registration and meeting efforts of our state association partners.  This year, Donna traveled to 13 states, shook hands with hundreds of clients and ag industry folks and distributed the trucks.

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 Tradeshow or Annual Meeting sponsored by their state association. Stay tuned for the reveal of the third edition Tradeshow Truck coming this summer.

Once the 2019-2020 Tradeshow season starts up, 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.  See you next year!

Instructor Spotlight - John Lee

What do grain, Barbie dolls and training have in common? An industry expert who is an educator at heart, who uses some custom-made props and fun toys to demonstrate a variety of scenarios that reveal the dangers associated with grain and grain engulfment. John Lee, with the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois (GFAI), is the lead instructor for the Asmark Institute’s Safe Grain Handling Courses in Bloomington, IL.  With more than three decades in the grain industry, John is truly an expert with an invaluable amount of knowledge to share.

John is a native of central Illinois and earned a Bachelor's degree in Occupational Safety from Illinois State University.  After graduation, John worked as a Loss Control Representative for Grain Dealers Mutual Insurance.  Then in 1997, he became the Director of the Safety-Health-Environmental services program for GFAI, serving 145 grain companies representing over 1,000 facilities in Illinois. John works with State and Federal OSHA and EPA offices for the benefit of the grain and feed industry in Illinois.  In addition, he conducts employee safety training, assists members in maintaining safety programs, conducts safety audits and visible emissions tests.  Several years ago, GFAI joined forces with OSHA through their Partnership/Alliance program to leverage resources and expertise to help ensure safe and healthy workplaces in the grain industry.  John has also written and directed two safety videos.

In 2013, John became the lead instructor of the Asmark Institute’s Safe Grain Handling Courses.  During the courses, he explains how it only takes 4-5 seconds to become entrapped and helpless in small grain bins and 10-20 seconds for complete engulfment in large commercial grain bins.  For demonstration purposes, John selects willing participants to play the role of engulfment victims.  Most participants are astonished at how quickly they can become entrapped and how long it takes to safely enter and rescue an engulfed victim.  Some demonstrations that utilize moving parts are too risky to use a real person. In these cases, John uses scaled down models and his lovely assistant “Barbie” steps in to show how life threatening these hazards can be.  Another popular demonstration is the re-creation of a grain dust explosion. John has a lot of fun blowing things up during the dust explosion re-enactment, proving that like most men, he is still a big kid at heart.  To learn more about the Safe Grain Training Courses and to register, click here.  The March course is filling up, so sign up soon!

OSHA Increases Penalty Amounts for 2019

The penalties for citations issued against employers for safety violations have gone up for 2019.  OSHA has announced the adjustments for inflation.  The maximum penalty that can be issued for serious, other-than-serious, and posting requirement citations increases to $13,260 per violation and the highest amount that can be issued for willful and repeat violations increases to $132,598 per violation.  Going forward, expect to see these adjustments by January 15th of each new year.

It's Time to Register With ResponsibleAg

More than 2,560 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, with 1,355 facilities already receiving their certification. We encourage you to register your facilities today! For more information and to register, go to: www.responsibleag.org

OSHA Clarifies Enforcement Policy for Respiratory Hazards Not Covered by PELs

OSHA has issued a memo that clarifies its existing policy for developing citations under the general duty clause for respiratory hazards from exposure to an air contaminant that is not covered by an OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL).  A PEL is the maximum allowable concentration for which workers may be exposed.  OSHA has not updated its PELs in decades, but here are other entities that publish Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) such as EPA, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. In many instances, these OELs are lower than OSHA’s PELs.

The general duty clause requires each employer to "furnish to each of their employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm."  The following elements must be established for OSHA to prove a violation of the general duty clause:
  1. The employer failed to keep the workplace free of a hazard to which employees of that employer were exposed;
  2. The hazard was recognized;
  3. The hazard was causing, or was likely to cause, death or serious physical harm; and
  4. There was a feasible and useful method to correct the hazard.
The memo states that unless the case file evidence proves all four of the above elements, the OSHA Area Office should issue a hazard alert letter (HAL) instead of a citation.  If there is sufficient proof of the four elements, the Area Office should issue a citation for a general duty clause violation.  OSHA’s memo states that when these elements are applied to respiratory hazards, general duty clause citations should not be “based solely on evidence that a measured exposure exceeded a recommended occupational exposure limit.”  The memo provides additional guidance for developing evidence for each of the four general duty clause elements when specifically applied to respiratory hazards.  Click here to view the full text of the memo on OSHA’s website.

CSA: Navigating the System Safely Recap

Another successful Asmark Institute Inspire program occurred on February 12th with EHS&S professionals from 5 states attending.  Our thanks to Mike Templeton, who is a Surface Transportation Consultant with over 30 years experience, for his presentation to the group.  Attendees discussed the existing Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) system in detail including point value scenarios and categories for improvement.  Also, the changes currently scheduled for September 2019 were a hot topic. 

The new CSA methodology will be based on an Item Response Theory (IRT) model, which is a more scientific way to approach scores.  Crash risk will be replaced with a safety culture score.  So once all of the planned changes take place there will no longer be violation weights, CSA points or BASIC measures, but only a single safety culture score that compares carriers to everyone rather than only a peer group.  We appreciate everyone that made the trip to attend this event and look forward to more events like this in the future.

From Mirrors to Cameras: DOT’s New Exemption

DOT recently granted an exemption that allows commercial trucks to use a camera system instead of rear view mirrors.  The exemption applies to Stoneridge’s MirrorEye Camera Monitor System (CMS) and is good for 5 years.  The agency has determined that granting the exemption to allow use of the CMS in lieu of mirrors would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety provided by the regulation.

The CMS consists of multiple digital cameras mounted on the exterior of the vehicle. According to the manufacturer, CMS gives drivers a greater field of view by an estimated 25 percent, has enhanced visual quality and allows for trailer panning to potentially eliminate incidents involving pedestrians or bicyclist while making right-hand turns.  If the camera or monitor system fails while the driver is operating on a public road, the driver must stop driving until the system is fixed or is replaced with standard mirrors. For more information on this exemption, click here.

Do You Still Have Double Safety Chains?

If you haven’t already, take a look at the openings to the fixed ladders at your facility.  As part of the Walking-Working Surfaces rule, OSHA requires that employees be protected from falling into a ladderway floor hole or ladderway platform hole by a guardrail system and toeboards on all exposed sides, except at the entrance to the hole, where a self-closing gate or an offset must be used.

Where in the past double safety chains may have been used as safeguards, the only two options for protection now are a self-closing gate or an offset passage.  This change removes the need for the employee to take action to restore the protection.

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.