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Newsletter
Volume 190
September 3, 2019

Remembering Industry's Harry Melton

We were saddened to hear that Harry "Corky" Melton passed away on August 8th at the age of 87.  Harry founded Tri County Chemical in Eldorado, IL in 1956, which continues today as a family owned business providing agricultural inputs and services in Southern Illinois.  He graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Agronomy, as well as served in the Army as an artillery instructor.  After the service, Harry worked for Allied Chemical and was one of the pioneers in helping bring liquid nitrogen fertilizers to the forefront to improve crop production.  He served as the President of the National Fertilizer Solutions Organization and later founded the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation to continue research and education in the fluid fertilizer industry.

Tri County Chemical has been a client of the Asmark Institute since 2006 and our thoughts and prayers go to the employees and his family.  Harry lived a life truly dedicated to the industry and will be remembered for his contributions made to the growth of the fertilizer industry.

Some Things Never Change...But Then Again, Some Things Do

There is an old saying that nothing remains constant except change itself, and the Training Department here at the Asmark Institute is no exception.  While there have been numerous changes that have occurred over the last 30 years, some things have never changed.  One of them is Sherri Brant, who is celebrating her 20th year here at Asmark.  She has worked in the Training Department from day one and has witnessed many changes throughout the years as they have grown from handling around 2,000 certificates each month to over 60,000 a month today.

In the beginning, Sherri used to hand count every certificate that came into the building, manually wrote every process, hand graded and manually entered each employee's training for credit.  She has watched the advancement of technologies continually improve as most of the everyday processes have become automated.  When asked what she remembers about the good ol' days, Sherri said "there was a large cart with milk crates on it that was full of laminated paper.  When monthly training came around, I would manually copy the facility information on to the certificates and type in the quantity needed for that location for the month.  The certificates were not personalized at that time."  Today, the Smart Certificates™ apply the latest technology used to track, score and authenticate each employee's training. "Whereas I used to have to print, stuff and mail, today with the press of a button, we can create and print traditional certificates that are mailed and post certificates directly to the website for ESP facilities," she said.

One year for an assignment, Sherri attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and was given the task to find one thing that would improve her job and make it more efficient.  This is where she found the Scantron machine that would automate grading and databasing of the certificates.  This was just the beginning for the training department...although the processes have evolved over time, another thing that has never changed, aside from Sherri, is the cost charged to each facility for used training certificates.  Thirty years ago, a facility was charged $1.00 per used certificate for each employee.  Today, the charge remains the same - $1.00.

Sherri has been married to her husband Jimmy for 22 years, has two daughters, Bailey and Riley and her dog, Lil' Bandit.  We appreciate all of the years of service she has given to the Asmark Institute and we look forward to what is next as she leads the training department into the next 20 years!

In Case You Missed the National Safety School

The National Agronomic Environmental Health and Safety School was held August 20-21 in Bloomington, IL at the Asmark Institute Agricenter.  Over 140 folks attended and heard from a great variety of national, industry and agency speakers on timely topics.  The Safety School is the premier meeting where EHS&S professionals from coast to coast gather to network and learn about important and relevant issues affecting ag retailers. John Buckley, President and CEO of Wilbur-Ellis Company, was the keynote and started the school off well with a discussion on 5 keys of safety culture.  An update from DC was given by Andy O'Hare, Director of Government Affairs at The Fertilizer Institute.

Sessions continued on electrical issues, working around underground utilities and railroad safety.  JJ Keller’s, Tom Bray, covered the national drug and alcohol clearinghouse and entry level driver training changes.  Billy Pirkle, President of Pirkle Solutions, Inc. talked about how standards are developed and encouraged industry to be a part of the process.  Representatives from OSHA also participated and Ann Grevenkamp gave an update on OSHA's Safe + Sound Campaign.  Closing out the meeting was Purdue Pesticide Program Coordinator, Dr. Fred Whitford, who talked about hitch pins and selecting the right grade, diameter and length of pin.

The 2020 Safety School dates will be August 25-26, 2020Registration for 2020 is open now so make plans to attend.

Getting Our Feet Wet

You may have already noticed, but if you haven’t, the Asmark Institute website is now mobile friendly…partially.  Our public facing pages, those that don’t require a username and password to access, have been designed to work on smartphones and tablets while maintaining the same familiar look our clients are accustomed to.  At its simplest, this allows the pages to respond to the screen size the user is on and images, text, videos and links are easily read and displayed.

This was the first step in exploring ways to make other pages, such as the Snapshots Management Dashboard, mobile friendly in the future.  Although not all web pages, tools and/or features on our website lend themselves to being made mobile friendly, we believe there are several that would make viewing information and data convenient on something as small as an iPhone/Android screen. Keep in mind that the nature of our business requires data integrity with the collection of information needed to populate government regulatory reports, so features such as SARA Tier II or Pesticide Production Reporting aren’t candidates for being made mobile friendly. Stay tuned as we continue to focus on ways to make accessing our website the best (and reasonable) user experience possible!

Start Spreadin' the News...

Like the old Frank Sinatra song goes, start spreadin' the news, I'm leavin' today - I want to be a part of it, New York, New York... The Asmark Institute is proud to spread the news that we are affiliated with the New York State Agri-Business Association (NYSABA), who plays a key role in promoting scientifically sound agronomic practices for the success of the New York agribusiness industry.  Their members work closely with New York's farmers to overcome the state's unique growing challenges including weather, invasives, variable soils, increasing urban sprawl and to meet the requirements of state and federal regulations.

Jeanette Marvin, Program Administrator for the NYSABA organization since 2004, has been instrumental in launching the 4R NY Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program, which took place a little more than a year ago on August 8th.  This program is a voluntary certification effort for the state's agribusiness industry aimed at improving the water quality of New York's waterways.  The roots for the 4R program lay in the Western Lake Erie Basin of Ohio, a source of drinking water for millions and home to more than half of all the fish in the Great Lakes.  When the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program was created in 2014, Jeanette was paying close attention.  She helped to form the committee that would ultimately create a board of directors for the proposed program.  This program encourages ag retailers, service providers and other certified professionals to adopt proven best practices through the 4Rs, which refers to using the Right Source of Nutrients at the Right Rate and Right Time in the Right Place.  She is owner of a crop farm in Western New York and mother of four children - Lindzianna (11), Kiki (9), Wyatt (8) and Augustine (6).  In her free time she coaches her children's basketball and softball teams.

The Asmark Institute works to support the retail agricultural industry through a very special partnership with NYSABA and we believe membership and participation in your state association is more important now than ever before.  We are proud to be affiliated with Jeanette and NYSABA and we look forward to continuing this great partnership.

Proposed Changes to Hours of Service Rules Published

DOT has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to modify the hours of service (HOS) regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.  The proposed rule offers five key revisions:
  1. Change the short haul exception to the record of duty status (RODS) requirement available to certain CMV drivers by lengthening the drivers' maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.
  2. Modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by 2 hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
  3. Increase flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time), and allowing the requirement to be satisfied by a non-duty break from driving, rather than requiring an off-duty break.
  4. Modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10-hours off duty into two periods: one period of at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than 2 consecutive hours, either off-duty or in the sleeper-berth.  Neither period would count against the driver's 14-hour driving window.
  5. Allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than 3 hours, that would pause a truck driver's 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.
Comments on the NPRM must be received on or before October 7, 2019.

New Law Removes Requirements for Illinois FT or FS License Plates 

Effective January 1, 2020, Illinois will no longer require registration and display of FT or FS license plates on any fertilizer trailers or self-propelled spreaders/sprayers.  This year the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) initiated legislation (HB 2669) to remove the registration requirement that has been in effect for decades.

KJ Johnson, IFCA’s Director of Government & Industry Relations, successfully managed the legislation through the process, securing unanimous support in both the House and Senate, and Governor Pritzker signed the bill.  It is now Public Act 101-0481.  There are some parameters that must be followed so click here for more information and to read IFCA's announcement.  Our thanks to IFCA for all their efforts!

EPA Rejects Cancer Warnings on Glyphosate Labels

The EPA has announced it will no longer approve product labels claiming that glyphosate is known to cause cancer.  The letter explains that EPA scientists have performed an independent evaluation of available data and concluded that glyphosate is "not likely to be carcinogenic to humans."  EPA's cancer classification is consistent with other international expert panels and regulatory authorities.

EPA considers the Proposition 65 warning language based on the chemical glyphosate to constitute a false and misleading statement.  The agency will no longer approve labeling that includes the Proposition 65 warning statement for glyphosate-containing products and the warning statement must also be removed from all product labels where the only basis for the warning is glyphosate.  For any pesticide that currently contains Proposition 65 warning language exclusively on the basis that it contains glyphosate, EPA requests the submission of draft amended labeling within 90 days.

2019 International Roadcheck Results Released

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) recently released the results of Roadcheck 2019, which was held June 4-6, 2019.  This year’s special emphasis was on steering and suspension systems.  CVSA inspectors carried out 67,072 truck and bus inspections across Canada and the United States in the 3-day inspection and enforcement event.  Of those inspections, 45,568 were North American Standard Level I Inspections.  Level I Inspections involve a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of both driver requirements and vehicle safety, making it the most thorough of the levels inspections performed by enforcement.  During the event, 21.5 percent of commercial motor vehicles that received Level I Inspections were placed out of service.

The top vehicle out-of-service conditions were for brake systems, tires and wheels, and brake adjustment.  If you combine brake adjustment and brake system violations, it accounts for 45.1 percent of all out-of-service vehicle violations.  The top driver out-of-service conditions were for hours of service, wrong class license and false record of duty status.  In addition, there were 748 safety belt violations.  Since its inception in 1988, more than 1.7 million roadside inspections have been conducted during International Roadcheck campaigns.

It's Time to Register With ResponsibleAg

More than 2,600 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, with over 1,325 facilities already receiving their certification. We encourage you to register your facilities today! For more information and to register, go to www.responsibleag.org

Check Your Self-Retracting Lifelines

3M Fall Protection has announced an immediate stop use and product recall on two of their products:
  • DBI-SALA Twin-Leg Nano-Lok edge
  • Twin-Leg Nano-Lok Wrap Back Self-Retracting Lifeline
This stop use recall affects all models of the Twin-Leg Nano-Lok edge and Twin-Leg Wrap Back SRLs since first introduced in 2013.  It does not affect the single-leg versions of these models. The Twin-Leg Nano-Loks are used as part of a personal fall protection system that connects two self-retracting lifelines/devices (SRLs/SRDs) directly under the dorsal D-ring of a worker’s harness.  The Twin-Leg Nano-Lok edge is intended to be anchored at foot-level, is designed for sharp and/or leading edge applications and incorporates an energy absorber.  The Twin-Leg Nano-Lok Wrap Back is intended for wrapping around an anchor and incorporates a similar energy absorber.

3M has determined that in a fall and under certain conditions, the energy absorber of these devices may not properly deploy which could expose the worker to serious injury or death.  There have been no reports of accidents or injuries associated with this issue. 3M is recalling all these devices to be repaired or replaced as soon as a solution is identified, tested and certified.  Alternatively, end-users may elect to receive cash for their returned devices.

Prevented Plant Acres Exceed 19 Million

As a follow-up to our May 29th article on the 2019 U.S. Spring Flood Outlook, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released a new report regarding the total number of prevented plant acres for 2019.  As severe weather pounded the Midwest this spring, agricultural producers reported that they were unable to plant crops on over 19 million acres.  This marks the most prevented plant acres reported since USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) began releasing the report in 2007 and 17.49 million acres more than reported at this time last year.

The data reported is an aggregate of crop acreage reports as of August 1, 2019, filed by producers with FSA.  The data outlines the number of acres planted, prevented from planting and failed by crop, county and state.  Of those prevented plant acres, more than 73 percent were in 12 Midwestern states, where heavy rainfall and flooding prevented many producers from planting mostly corn, soybeans and wheat.  A major source for this report is the benchmark survey of approximately 80,000 farmers from the USDA.

The 2019 planting season will be one that won't soon be forgotten.  Our nation's farmers faced many hardships this year, and did what they could while being put in a tough situation.  Now those efforts are showing, and it could be a glimpse of silver lining!  Over the past few months, the crops have shown improvement and are expected to continue to progress - and with a warm Fall now in the forecast, there might be the opportunity for the late-planted crops to continue to mature even more than expected.

OSHA Posts Enforcement Summary for FY 2018

OSHA posted its 2018 Enforcement Summary, which highlights the Agency's inspection statistics. The data shows that the number of programmed inspections continues to decline, while the percentage of unprogrammed inspections remains high.

In fiscal year (FY) 2018, OSHA conducted a total of 32,023 inspections. About 56 percent (18,067) were unprogrammed inspections, which include employee complaints, injuries/fatalities and referrals.  The high percentage of unprogrammed inspections indicates that OSHA continues to devote considerable resources responding to referrals and complaints.  About 44 percent (13,956) were programmed inspections, which focus OSHA’s enforcement resources towards the industries and operations where known hazards exist (e.g., combustible dusts, chemical processing).

OSHA Inspection Statistics FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018
Total Inspections 39,228 **36,163 35,820 31,948 32,408 32,023
Total Programmed Inspections 22,170 19,222 16,527 12,731 14,377 13,956
Total Unprogrammed Inspections 17,058 16,941 19,293 19,217 18,031 18,067
~ Fatality/Catastrophe Inspections 826 850 912 890 837 941
~ Complaints Inspection 9,505 9,570 9,037 8,870 8,249 7,489
~ Referrals* 4,024 3,829 6,569 6,691 6,286 6,463
~ Other Unprogrammed Inspections 2,703 2,525 3,686 2,766 2,659 3,174

*As of FY 2015 referral inspections encompass all sub-types of referrals such as those received from compliance safety and health officers, safety and health agencies, other city/county/state/ federal governments, media, and employer-reported.
** The October 2013 Government shutdown occurred during this time.

DOT Proposes Changes for CDL Applicants

U.S. DOT announced a proposed rule to reduce burdens and costs for commercial driver’s license (CDL) applicants by allowing applicants to take general and specialized knowledge tests in a state other than the applicant’s state of residence.  This proposal will increase flexibility for driver applicants by reducing time and travel expenditures, while having no detrimental impact on safety.

To promote further flexibility in the CDL issuance processes, DOT proposes to allow driver applicants to take the CDL knowledge tests in states as well.  Under this proposed rule, a state would not be required to offer the knowledge tests to out-of-state applicants. However, if the testing state elects to offer the knowledge tests to these applicants, it would transmit the results to the state of domicile, which would be required to accept the results. With the goal of reducing administrative costs and helping to alleviate testing delays, this proposal will eliminate needless inconvenience and expense to CDL applicants.  The proposed rule will have a 60-day public comment period which ends September 27, 2019.

CBD Oil - A Cautionary Tale

As the medical marijuana industry continues to leave its ever-growing footprint on the field of medicine, science and even the general population, cannabidiol (CBD) has recently stepped into the spotlight as a popular alternative medicine.  CBD based products are commonly being used to treat inflammation, arthritis, chronic pain, etc., and are growing in popularity as larger retailers like Walgreens and CVS are carrying them.  CBD products from hemp sold in retail stores and online aren’t supposed to contain more than 0.3 percent THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound in marijuana that can get you high. CBD products could have more THC than the label claims.  It’s also possible that over time, the small amounts of THC allowed in CBD products could build up in the body to detectable levels.  Many legitimate CBD products contain small amounts of THC, and when taken regularly over as little as four to six days it can accumulate in the body, according to several studies.

This is proving to be more and more tricky when it comes to drug testing.  Most people are under the impression that CBD products do not contain enough THC to show up on drug tests.  However, in talking with drug testing companies, they say otherwise.  In one recent case, a 64-year-old gentleman began using a topical CBD Oil product at the recommendation of his doctor for relief of arthritis-related pain.  He used the cream on his joints for several weeks before being selected for a random drug test by his employer.  He was shocked to learn his results came back positive for THC and was then required to enter into a Substance Abuse Program (SAP) in order to remain employed per company policy.  Sadly, others have lost their jobs in similar situations.

The bottom line is CBD Oil products are an unregulated market, which means the low levels of THC advertised for a product are not actually accurate when tested, and you could be taking a higher dose than you think.  Something to keep in mind is state-level regulations are now different than the Federal regulations - but the Federal regulations have not changed.

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.

Remembering Industry's Harry Melton

We were saddened to hear that Harry "Corky" Melton passed away on August 8th at the age of 87.  Harry founded Tri County Chemical in Eldorado, IL in 1956, which continues today as a family owned business providing agricultural inputs and services in Southern Illinois.  He graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Agronomy, as well as served in the Army as an artillery instructor.  After the service, Harry worked for Allied Chemical and was one of the pioneers in helping bring liquid nitrogen fertilizers to the forefront to improve crop production.  He served as the President of the National Fertilizer Solutions Organization and later founded the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation to continue research and education in the fluid fertilizer industry.

Tri County Chemical has been a client of the Asmark Institute since 2006 and our thoughts and prayers go to the employees and his family.  Harry lived a life truly dedicated to the industry and will be remembered for his contributions made to the growth of the fertilizer industry.

Some Things Never Change...But Then Again, Some Things Do

There is an old saying that nothing remains constant except change itself, and the Training Department here at the Asmark Institute is no exception.  While there have been numerous changes that have occurred over the last 30 years, some things have never changed.  One of them is Sherri Brant, who is celebrating her 20th year here at Asmark.  She has worked in the Training Department from day one and has witnessed many changes throughout the years as they have grown from handling around 2,000 certificates each month to over 60,000 a month today.

In the beginning, Sherri used to hand count every certificate that came into the building, manually wrote every process, hand graded and manually entered each employee's training for credit.  She has watched the advancement of technologies continually improve as most of the everyday processes have become automated.  When asked what she remembers about the good ol' days, Sherri said "there was a large cart with milk crates on it that was full of laminated paper.  When monthly training came around, I would manually copy the facility information on to the certificates and type in the quantity needed for that location for the month.  The certificates were not personalized at that time."  Today, the Smart Certificates™ apply the latest technology used to track, score and authenticate each employee's training. "Whereas I used to have to print, stuff and mail, today with the press of a button, we can create and print traditional certificates that are mailed and post certificates directly to the website for ESP facilities," she said.

One year for an assignment, Sherri attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and was given the task to find one thing that would improve her job and make it more efficient.  This is where she found the Scantron machine that would automate grading and databasing of the certificates.  This was just the beginning for the training department...although the processes have evolved over time, another thing that has never changed, aside from Sherri, is the cost charged to each facility for used training certificates.  Thirty years ago, a facility was charged $1.00 per used certificate for each employee.  Today, the charge remains the same - $1.00.

Sherri has been married to her husband Jimmy for 22 years, has two daughters, Bailey and Riley and her dog, Lil' Bandit.  We appreciate all of the years of service she has given to the Asmark Institute and we look forward to what is next as she leads the training department into the next 20 years!

In Case You Missed the National Safety School

The National Agronomic Environmental Health and Safety School was held August 20-21 in Bloomington, IL at the Asmark Institute Agricenter.  Over 140 folks attended and heard from a great variety of national, industry and agency speakers on timely topics.  The Safety School is the premier meeting where EHS&S professionals from coast to coast gather to network and learn about important and relevant issues affecting ag retailers. John Buckley, President and CEO of Wilbur-Ellis Company, was the keynote and started the school off well with a discussion on 5 keys of safety culture.  An update from DC was given by Andy O'Hare, Director of Government Affairs at The Fertilizer Institute.

Sessions continued on electrical issues, working around underground utilities and railroad safety.  JJ Keller’s, Tom Bray, covered the national drug and alcohol clearinghouse and entry level driver training changes.  Billy Pirkle, President of Pirkle Solutions, Inc. talked about how standards are developed and encouraged industry to be a part of the process.  Representatives from OSHA also participated and Ann Grevenkamp gave an update on OSHA's Safe + Sound Campaign.  Closing out the meeting was Purdue Pesticide Program Coordinator, Dr. Fred Whitford, who talked about hitch pins and selecting the right grade, diameter and length of pin.

The 2020 Safety School dates will be August 25-26, 2020Registration for 2020 is open now so make plans to attend.

Getting Our Feet Wet

You may have already noticed, but if you haven’t, the Asmark Institute website is now mobile friendly…partially.  Our public facing pages, those that don’t require a username and password to access, have been designed to work on smartphones and tablets while maintaining the same familiar look our clients are accustomed to.  At its simplest, this allows the pages to respond to the screen size the user is on and images, text, videos and links are easily read and displayed.

This was the first step in exploring ways to make other pages, such as the Snapshots Management Dashboard, mobile friendly in the future.  Although not all web pages, tools and/or features on our website lend themselves to being made mobile friendly, we believe there are several that would make viewing information and data convenient on something as small as an iPhone/Android screen. Keep in mind that the nature of our business requires data integrity with the collection of information needed to populate government regulatory reports, so features such as SARA Tier II or Pesticide Production Reporting aren’t candidates for being made mobile friendly. Stay tuned as we continue to focus on ways to make accessing our website the best (and reasonable) user experience possible!

Start Spreadin' the News...

Like the old Frank Sinatra song goes, start spreadin' the news, I'm leavin' today - I want to be a part of it, New York, New York... The Asmark Institute is proud to spread the news that we are affiliated with the New York State Agri-Business Association (NYSABA), who plays a key role in promoting scientifically sound agronomic practices for the success of the New York agribusiness industry.  Their members work closely with New York's farmers to overcome the state's unique growing challenges including weather, invasives, variable soils, increasing urban sprawl and to meet the requirements of state and federal regulations.

Jeanette Marvin, Program Administrator for the NYSABA organization since 2004, has been instrumental in launching the 4R NY Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program, which took place a little more than a year ago on August 8th.  This program is a voluntary certification effort for the state's agribusiness industry aimed at improving the water quality of New York's waterways.  The roots for the 4R program lay in the Western Lake Erie Basin of Ohio, a source of drinking water for millions and home to more than half of all the fish in the Great Lakes.  When the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program was created in 2014, Jeanette was paying close attention.  She helped to form the committee that would ultimately create a board of directors for the proposed program.  This program encourages ag retailers, service providers and other certified professionals to adopt proven best practices through the 4Rs, which refers to using the Right Source of Nutrients at the Right Rate and Right Time in the Right Place.  She is owner of a crop farm in Western New York and mother of four children - Lindzianna (11), Kiki (9), Wyatt (8) and Augustine (6).  In her free time she coaches her children's basketball and softball teams.

The Asmark Institute works to support the retail agricultural industry through a very special partnership with NYSABA and we believe membership and participation in your state association is more important now than ever before.  We are proud to be affiliated with Jeanette and NYSABA and we look forward to continuing this great partnership.

Proposed Changes to Hours of Service Rules Published

DOT has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to modify the hours of service (HOS) regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.  The proposed rule offers five key revisions:
  1. Change the short haul exception to the record of duty status (RODS) requirement available to certain CMV drivers by lengthening the drivers' maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.
  2. Modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by 2 hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
  3. Increase flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time), and allowing the requirement to be satisfied by a non-duty break from driving, rather than requiring an off-duty break.
  4. Modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10-hours off duty into two periods: one period of at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than 2 consecutive hours, either off-duty or in the sleeper-berth.  Neither period would count against the driver's 14-hour driving window.
  5. Allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than 3 hours, that would pause a truck driver's 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.
Comments on the NPRM must be received on or before October 7, 2019.

New Law Removes Requirements for Illinois FT or FS License Plates 

Effective January 1, 2020, Illinois will no longer require registration and display of FT or FS license plates on any fertilizer trailers or self-propelled spreaders/sprayers.  This year the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) initiated legislation (HB 2669) to remove the registration requirement that has been in effect for decades.

KJ Johnson, IFCA’s Director of Government & Industry Relations, successfully managed the legislation through the process, securing unanimous support in both the House and Senate, and Governor Pritzker signed the bill.  It is now Public Act 101-0481.  There are some parameters that must be followed so click here for more information and to read IFCA's announcement.  Our thanks to IFCA for all their efforts!

EPA Rejects Cancer Warnings on Glyphosate Labels

The EPA has announced it will no longer approve product labels claiming that glyphosate is known to cause cancer.  The letter explains that EPA scientists have performed an independent evaluation of available data and concluded that glyphosate is "not likely to be carcinogenic to humans."  EPA's cancer classification is consistent with other international expert panels and regulatory authorities.

EPA considers the Proposition 65 warning language based on the chemical glyphosate to constitute a false and misleading statement.  The agency will no longer approve labeling that includes the Proposition 65 warning statement for glyphosate-containing products and the warning statement must also be removed from all product labels where the only basis for the warning is glyphosate.  For any pesticide that currently contains Proposition 65 warning language exclusively on the basis that it contains glyphosate, EPA requests the submission of draft amended labeling within 90 days.

2019 International Roadcheck Results Released

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) recently released the results of Roadcheck 2019, which was held June 4-6, 2019.  This year’s special emphasis was on steering and suspension systems.  CVSA inspectors carried out 67,072 truck and bus inspections across Canada and the United States in the 3-day inspection and enforcement event.  Of those inspections, 45,568 were North American Standard Level I Inspections.  Level I Inspections involve a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of both driver requirements and vehicle safety, making it the most thorough of the levels inspections performed by enforcement.  During the event, 21.5 percent of commercial motor vehicles that received Level I Inspections were placed out of service.

The top vehicle out-of-service conditions were for brake systems, tires and wheels, and brake adjustment.  If you combine brake adjustment and brake system violations, it accounts for 45.1 percent of all out-of-service vehicle violations.  The top driver out-of-service conditions were for hours of service, wrong class license and false record of duty status.  In addition, there were 748 safety belt violations.  Since its inception in 1988, more than 1.7 million roadside inspections have been conducted during International Roadcheck campaigns.

It's Time to Register With ResponsibleAg

More than 2,600 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, with over 1,325 facilities already receiving their certification. We encourage you to register your facilities today! For more information and to register, go to www.responsibleag.org

Check Your Self-Retracting Lifelines

3M Fall Protection has announced an immediate stop use and product recall on two of their products:
  • DBI-SALA Twin-Leg Nano-Lok edge
  • Twin-Leg Nano-Lok Wrap Back Self-Retracting Lifeline
This stop use recall affects all models of the Twin-Leg Nano-Lok edge and Twin-Leg Wrap Back SRLs since first introduced in 2013.  It does not affect the single-leg versions of these models. The Twin-Leg Nano-Loks are used as part of a personal fall protection system that connects two self-retracting lifelines/devices (SRLs/SRDs) directly under the dorsal D-ring of a worker’s harness.  The Twin-Leg Nano-Lok edge is intended to be anchored at foot-level, is designed for sharp and/or leading edge applications and incorporates an energy absorber.  The Twin-Leg Nano-Lok Wrap Back is intended for wrapping around an anchor and incorporates a similar energy absorber.

3M has determined that in a fall and under certain conditions, the energy absorber of these devices may not properly deploy which could expose the worker to serious injury or death.  There have been no reports of accidents or injuries associated with this issue. 3M is recalling all these devices to be repaired or replaced as soon as a solution is identified, tested and certified.  Alternatively, end-users may elect to receive cash for their returned devices.

Prevented Plant Acres Exceed 19 Million

As a follow-up to our May 29th article on the 2019 U.S. Spring Flood Outlook, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released a new report regarding the total number of prevented plant acres for 2019.  As severe weather pounded the Midwest this spring, agricultural producers reported that they were unable to plant crops on over 19 million acres.  This marks the most prevented plant acres reported since USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) began releasing the report in 2007 and 17.49 million acres more than reported at this time last year.

The data reported is an aggregate of crop acreage reports as of August 1, 2019, filed by producers with FSA.  The data outlines the number of acres planted, prevented from planting and failed by crop, county and state.  Of those prevented plant acres, more than 73 percent were in 12 Midwestern states, where heavy rainfall and flooding prevented many producers from planting mostly corn, soybeans and wheat.  A major source for this report is the benchmark survey of approximately 80,000 farmers from the USDA.

The 2019 planting season will be one that won't soon be forgotten.  Our nation's farmers faced many hardships this year, and did what they could while being put in a tough situation.  Now those efforts are showing, and it could be a glimpse of silver lining!  Over the past few months, the crops have shown improvement and are expected to continue to progress - and with a warm Fall now in the forecast, there might be the opportunity for the late-planted crops to continue to mature even more than expected.

OSHA Posts Enforcement Summary for FY 2018

OSHA posted its 2018 Enforcement Summary, which highlights the Agency's inspection statistics. The data shows that the number of programmed inspections continues to decline, while the percentage of unprogrammed inspections remains high.

In fiscal year (FY) 2018, OSHA conducted a total of 32,023 inspections. About 56 percent (18,067) were unprogrammed inspections, which include employee complaints, injuries/fatalities and referrals.  The high percentage of unprogrammed inspections indicates that OSHA continues to devote considerable resources responding to referrals and complaints.  About 44 percent (13,956) were programmed inspections, which focus OSHA’s enforcement resources towards the industries and operations where known hazards exist (e.g., combustible dusts, chemical processing).

OSHA Inspection Statistics FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018
Total Inspections 39,228 **36,163 35,820 31,948 32,408 32,023
Total Programmed Inspections 22,170 19,222 16,527 12,731 14,377 13,956
Total Unprogrammed Inspections 17,058 16,941 19,293 19,217 18,031 18,067
~ Fatality/Catastrophe Inspections 826 850 912 890 837 941
~ Complaints Inspection 9,505 9,570 9,037 8,870 8,249 7,489
~ Referrals* 4,024 3,829 6,569 6,691 6,286 6,463
~ Other Unprogrammed Inspections 2,703 2,525 3,686 2,766 2,659 3,174

*As of FY 2015 referral inspections encompass all sub-types of referrals such as those received from compliance safety and health officers, safety and health agencies, other city/county/state/ federal governments, media, and employer-reported.
** The October 2013 Government shutdown occurred during this time.

DOT Proposes Changes for CDL Applicants

U.S. DOT announced a proposed rule to reduce burdens and costs for commercial driver’s license (CDL) applicants by allowing applicants to take general and specialized knowledge tests in a state other than the applicant’s state of residence.  This proposal will increase flexibility for driver applicants by reducing time and travel expenditures, while having no detrimental impact on safety.

To promote further flexibility in the CDL issuance processes, DOT proposes to allow driver applicants to take the CDL knowledge tests in states as well.  Under this proposed rule, a state would not be required to offer the knowledge tests to out-of-state applicants. However, if the testing state elects to offer the knowledge tests to these applicants, it would transmit the results to the state of domicile, which would be required to accept the results. With the goal of reducing administrative costs and helping to alleviate testing delays, this proposal will eliminate needless inconvenience and expense to CDL applicants.  The proposed rule will have a 60-day public comment period which ends September 27, 2019.

CBD Oil - A Cautionary Tale

As the medical marijuana industry continues to leave its ever-growing footprint on the field of medicine, science and even the general population, cannabidiol (CBD) has recently stepped into the spotlight as a popular alternative medicine.  CBD based products are commonly being used to treat inflammation, arthritis, chronic pain, etc., and are growing in popularity as larger retailers like Walgreens and CVS are carrying them.  CBD products from hemp sold in retail stores and online aren’t supposed to contain more than 0.3 percent THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound in marijuana that can get you high. CBD products could have more THC than the label claims.  It’s also possible that over time, the small amounts of THC allowed in CBD products could build up in the body to detectable levels.  Many legitimate CBD products contain small amounts of THC, and when taken regularly over as little as four to six days it can accumulate in the body, according to several studies.

This is proving to be more and more tricky when it comes to drug testing.  Most people are under the impression that CBD products do not contain enough THC to show up on drug tests.  However, in talking with drug testing companies, they say otherwise.  In one recent case, a 64-year-old gentleman began using a topical CBD Oil product at the recommendation of his doctor for relief of arthritis-related pain.  He used the cream on his joints for several weeks before being selected for a random drug test by his employer.  He was shocked to learn his results came back positive for THC and was then required to enter into a Substance Abuse Program (SAP) in order to remain employed per company policy.  Sadly, others have lost their jobs in similar situations.

The bottom line is CBD Oil products are an unregulated market, which means the low levels of THC advertised for a product are not actually accurate when tested, and you could be taking a higher dose than you think.  Something to keep in mind is state-level regulations are now different than the Federal regulations - but the Federal regulations have not changed.

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.