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Newsletter
Volume 194
January 2, 2020

Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020!

As we bid farewell to 2019 and welcome in the new year and a new decade, we reflect on all the ways the Asmark Institute was utilized as an asset for our industry.  We are grateful first to our clients as none of it would have been possible without their support.  With the retirement of our organization’s founders, Allen and Susan Summers, at the end of 2018, the past year was filled with new experiences and opportunities for growth.

Our mission is to imagine, build, solve, collaborate and lead on behalf of ag retailers.  Reflecting on that mission, the Institute’s 2020 vision is clear.  Utilize technology to build upon existing services, while also creating new ones to maintain efficiency.  Keep costs low and provide options to our clients for how they want to communicate with us.  And remain relevant to current needs while always looking ahead for future needs.  Through all of these, the Asmark Institute will strive to provide the quality service we are known for, all while helping our clients stay in compliance and cultivate a safe work environment for their employees.

We are looking forward to all that the new year and new decade holds for our clients, our affiliates and our industry.  Thank you for giving us the opportunity to continue the relationships we’ve developed over all the years.  We wish you a safe, healthy and prosperous 2020!


Amber M. Duke
President & CEO

McArdle Honored with ARA Distinguished Service Award

Our sincerest congratulations to Tim McArdle, Executive Vice President at BRANDT, for being awarded the ARA Distinguished Service Award at the 2019 ARA Conference and Expo for his support of the association and the agricultural retail industry!  Tim has had a history of long-term participation with ARA, as well as serving in key leadership positions for other organizations.  

In his current role as Chairman for ResponsibleAg, Inc., Tim has been a strong advocate for the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, which recognizes a facility's commitment to the safety and security of their employees, customers and community.  "It is incumbent on all to ensure we are a safe, responsible and proactive industry," said Tim.  "Our hope is to engage our entire industry in this beneficial program over the next few years."  Congratulations to Tim for receiving this honor!

AGCO 2019 Operator of the Year Announced

Mose Middleton of Nutrien Ag Solutions in Rochester, Indiana, has been selected as the AGCO 2019 Operator of the Year.  The award recognizes the value of the Professional Applicators and the hard work they do caring for crops and customers across the country, along with their involvement and service to their local communities.

Mose is known as a perfectionist, who goes above and beyond.  For the past 28 years, he has made sure the customers get the best application.  "We have people call and request Mose," states Curt Klein of Nutrien Ag Solutions, "we have gained new business based on his reputation as an applicator."

As a sports enthusiast, Mose has coached many local school and Little League teams, as well as playing sports with patients at the State Hospital.  His willingness to volunteer and his passion for life has made Mose well-known in the community.

Mose was presented with the new title and the grand prize, a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle, on December 4th during the 2019 Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) Conference & Expo in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Congratulations to Mose Middleton for this well deserved honor!

The Fertilizer Institute Names New President

The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) has selected Corey Rosenbusch as its new President and CEO.  Rosenbusch currently serves as President and CEO of the Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA) and is slated to start work at TFI in early February. "Corey’s strategic and entrepreneurial mindset will be a tremendous asset to TFI as it advocates for the safe, secure, and sustainable production, distribution and use of all plant nutrition products,” said TFI Chairman Tony Will. “His excellent track record at GCCA is indicative of the talents he brings to TFI.”

Before joining GCCA, Rosenbusch lived in Indonesia implementing a USDA-funded development project for The Borlaug Institute.  Rosenbusch also served as the National FFA President. Rosenbusch succeeds Chris Jahn, who left TFI in October to lead the American Chemistry Council.

Clearinghouse Set to Open January 6 - Are You Ready?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is set to become operational on January 6, 2020.  Employers who use CDL drivers in safety-sensitive functions, such as operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), are required to register in the Clearinghouse for the purpose of conducting pre-employment queries and annual queries. Employers that use a consortia or third-party administrator (C/TPA) to manage their drug and alcohol testing program will need to designate them in their account.  Employers also need to purchase a query plan that will enable them to conduct queries to check if current and prospective employees are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions due to an unresolved drug and alcohol program violation.  Although C/TPAs cannot purchase query plans, once registered themselves, they can conduct queries on behalf of the employers. If you haven't already, please visit the Clearinghouse website to register, create an online user account and purchase a query plan to begin conducting queries on January 6, 2020.

While drivers are not required to register, a driver will need to be registered to provide electronic consent in the Clearinghouse if a prospective or current employer needs to conduct a full query of the driver’s Clearinghouse record.  A driver must also be registered to electronically view the information in his or her own Clearinghouse record.  We highly recommend drivers register and confirm that all the information in the database is accurate.

For more detailed information about the CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, check out the new Compliance Assistance Document posted in the Compliance Assistance Library on Snapshots under the Compliance Guidelines button.

USMCA is Finally a Go

After months of negotiations, it appears the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will likely pass through Congress.  Most parts of the agriculture industry are celebrating a deal which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  "USMCA is a big win for American workers and the economy, especially for our farmers and ranchers.  The agreement improves virtually every component of the old NAFTA, and the agriculture industry stands to gain significantly," said US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

"President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer are laying the foundation for a stronger farm economy through USMCA and I thank them for all their hard work and perseverance to get the agreement across the finish line.  While I am very encouraged by today's breakthrough, we must not lose sight - the House and Senate need to work diligently to pass USMCA by Christmas."  To read the full USDA statement, click here.

Update:  Since this article was first posted, the deal has passed the US House but the Senate is expected to vote sometime in early 2020.

DOT Doubles Random Drug Test Rate for 2020

DOT announced that it is increasing the minimum annual percentage rate for random controlled substances testing for drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) requiring a commercial driver's license (CDL) from the current rate of 25 percent of the average number of drivers to 50 percent of the average number of drivers, effective January 1, 2020. DOT must increase the minimum annual random testing percentage rate when the data received under the reporting requirements for any calendar year indicates that the reported positive rate is equal to or greater than 1.0 percent.

Based on the results of the 2018 FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey, the positive rate for controlled substances random testing increased to 1.0 percent.  Therefore, DOT will increase the controlled substances minimum annual percentage rate for random controlled substances testing to 50 percent of the average number of drivers.  The minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing will remain at 10 percent. Click here to read the federal register notice. 

Spring Training Dates Announced for NTIP "CT" Course

Registration for the 2020 Spring NTIP "CT" Courses is now open.  This one day course, led by John Rebholz, is designed to help train Cargo Tank Inspectors to understand their duties associated with the proper pressure, thickness and visual test/inspections for nurse tanks used for anhydrous ammonia, and will serve to provide the initial and three year refresher training.  Participants will receive a certificate valid for three years, which fulfills the training requirements for DOT's function-specific training for hazardous materials.

Many individuals who register for the "CT" Course are also interested in participating in the Ammonia Technician Course. We have scheduled one NTIP "CT" Course to coincide with the  Ammonia Technician Course, March 24 - 26, to help reduce time and costs for those who need to attend both. CT inspectors who are eligible to renew their Asmark Institute "CT" Training - watch your mail for your personalized invitation.

Classes are limited to 22 participants, so register today to ensure you get the class date most convenient for you. Have questions or need more information? Please contact Patricia at patricia@asmark.org or 270-926-4600 Ext 234.

It's Time to Register With ResponsibleAg

Nearly 2,600 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, with 1,315 facilities already receiving their certification. We encourage you to register your facilities today! For more information and to register, go to www.responsibleag.org.

IRS Decreases Standard Mileage Rates for 2020

The IRS has issued the 2020 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.  Beginning on January 1, 2020, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:
  • 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, down from 58 cents for 2019
  • 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down from 20 cents for 2019
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (No Change)
The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile.  The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs. Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

OSHA's Top 3 Unchanged for 2019

Preliminary data for OSHA’s Top 10 most cited violations for fiscal year 2019 was announced at the National Safety Council Congress and Expo in San Diego, California.  The top three violations were again in the same order: fall protection, hazard communication and scaffolding.  Others switched spots but remained on the list from 2018.

OSHA noted that not all violations had been added to its reporting system but the order of the list below is not expected to change.  The list is always a good place to start to identify hazards in the workplace.

1. Fall Protection (29 CFR 1926.501) Total of 6,010 violations. Frequently violated requirements under the fall protection standard include failure to provide fall protection for unprotected edges and open sides in residential construction and failure to provide fall protection on low-slope roofs.

2. Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200) Total of 3,671 violations. Common violated requirements include failure to have a written hazard communication program and failure to provide employee access to safety data sheets.

3. Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451) Total of 2,813 violations with the most frequent violations including improper access to surfaces and lack of guardrails.

4. Lockout/Tagout (29 CFR 1910.147) Total of 2,606 violations. Frequent violations include those regarding failure to provide employee training and failure to conduct periodic inspections.

5. Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134) Total of 2,450 violations. Typically, respiratory protection violations involve those for the failure to establish a written respiratory protection program and failure to provide medical evaluations.

6. Ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053) Total of 2,345 violations with frequent violations including improper use of ladders, damaged ladders and using the top step.

7. Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178) Total of 2,093 violations. Typical violations include failure to provide employee training and refresher training.

8. Fall Protection—Training (29 CFR 1926.503) Total of 1,773 violations. Frequently cited requirements include failure to train employees in identifying fall hazards and proper use of fall protection equipment.

9. Machine Guarding (29 CFR 1910.212) Total of 1,743 violations with the most frequent for failure to guard points of operation.

10. Eye and Face Protection (29 CFR 1926.102) Total of 1,411 violations with frequent violations for failing to ensure employees use appropriate eye or face protection.

FMCSA Website Undergoes Security Audit

At the end of October, U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General announced in a memorandum that an audit is being initiated on the security of FMCSA's information technology infrastructure.  The goal of the audit will be to "determine whether security weaknesses exist in the FMCSA's IT infrastructure that could lead to the compromise of FMCSA's systems and data."

This comes after the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners website was taken down for months due to a security breach back in December of 2017.  Although there was no personal information exposed through the breach, DOT is still wanting to take a closer look, stating in the memo the reason for the audit was "Due to the importance of FMCSA’s programs to the Nation’s transportation system and the sensitivity of some of the Agency’s information."  Click here to read DOT's memo.

Final Rule: Overtime Update

The Department of Labor announced a final rule to make 1.3 million American workers newly eligible for overtime pay.  The final rule updates the earnings thresholds necessary to exempt executive, administrative and professional employees from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.  The new thresholds account for growth in employee earnings since the thresholds were last updated in 2004.

The final rule raises the “standard salary level” from the currently enforced level of $455 per week to $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year for a full-year worker), raises the total annual compensation requirement for “highly compensated employees” from the currently enforced level of $100,000 per year to $107,432 per year and allows employers to use non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary level.  These changes went into effect on January 1, 2020.

Helping You Get a Leg Up on Regulatory Requirements

Compliance with the various regulatory requirements is an essential part of business. The crop inputs industry is subject to numerous rules, regulations and laws based on the products handled and the heavy dependence on personnel and transportation.  One great tool available to you on the Asmark Institute website is the Compliance Assistance Library.  Here complex regulatory requirements are put into layman's terms for easier understanding.  Compliance Assistance documents are listed alphabetically by title and any documents revised in the last 6 months are denoted with a red date.  Each topic features accompanying visuals and links to get more in depth information.  Many locations even report using the concise summaries as handouts.

You can access the documents by logging into Snapshots and clicking on the Compliance Guidelines in the blue navigation buttons area. If you haven't already, check out this feature today.  Dustin Warder, Manager of Regulatory Affairs, keeps the documents updated. If you have any questions or need help,  Dustin can be reached at 270-926-4600 Ext 202 or dustin@asmark.org

DOT Codifies "Rule on Rules"

DOT has announced a final rule codifying a series of important reforms to the Department’s rulemaking, guidance and enforcement practices.  The rule enhances transparency in how the Department issues rules and guidance documents, as well as strengthens due process in DOT enforcement actions.  “When rules are outdated, duplicative, overly complex and contradictory, they harm the cause of safety and effectiveness.  This effort enhances the department’s regulatory process by providing greater transparency and strengthening due process in enforcement actions,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

The rule’s major components include permanently incorporating the Trump Administration’s regulatory reform policies on regulatory budgeting, the “2-for-1” plan and the Regulatory Reform Task Force.  The Rule will codify additional procedures for the issuance of the Department’s most costly rules, including enhanced opportunities for public participation.  The rule clarifies that the Department’s guidance documents do not impose legal obligations and must not be used as a basis for enforcement. It also ensures due process protections for potential subjects of enforcement actions, including open and fair investigations and proceedings.  Click here for more information.

OSHA Issues Citations Following Confined Space Fatality

A Delaware based company is facing over $550,000 in proposed penalties after a worker asphyxiated in a confined space.  In May 2019, a 29-year-old was servicing a rail car when he lost consciousness during the task and was later pronounced dead.  The company received four willful and three serious violations for failing to protect employees from the hazards of entering permit-required confined spaces, failure to retain the canceled entry permit and inadequate respiratory protection procedures.  The agency also placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  This serves as a reminder to follow proper safety procedures for confined space entry and to test and monitor confined spaces for oxygen content before and during entry.

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.

Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020!

As we bid farewell to 2019 and welcome in the new year and a new decade, we reflect on all the ways the Asmark Institute was utilized as an asset for our industry.  We are grateful first to our clients as none of it would have been possible without their support.  With the retirement of our organization’s founders, Allen and Susan Summers, at the end of 2018, the past year was filled with new experiences and opportunities for growth.

Our mission is to imagine, build, solve, collaborate and lead on behalf of ag retailers.  Reflecting on that mission, the Institute’s 2020 vision is clear.  Utilize technology to build upon existing services, while also creating new ones to maintain efficiency.  Keep costs low and provide options to our clients for how they want to communicate with us.  And remain relevant to current needs while always looking ahead for future needs.  Through all of these, the Asmark Institute will strive to provide the quality service we are known for, all while helping our clients stay in compliance and cultivate a safe work environment for their employees.

We are looking forward to all that the new year and new decade holds for our clients, our affiliates and our industry.  Thank you for giving us the opportunity to continue the relationships we’ve developed over all the years.  We wish you a safe, healthy and prosperous 2020!


Amber M. Duke
President & CEO

McArdle Honored with ARA Distinguished Service Award

Our sincerest congratulations to Tim McArdle, Executive Vice President at BRANDT, for being awarded the ARA Distinguished Service Award at the 2019 ARA Conference and Expo for his support of the association and the agricultural retail industry!  Tim has had a history of long-term participation with ARA, as well as serving in key leadership positions for other organizations.  

In his current role as Chairman for ResponsibleAg, Inc., Tim has been a strong advocate for the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, which recognizes a facility's commitment to the safety and security of their employees, customers and community.  "It is incumbent on all to ensure we are a safe, responsible and proactive industry," said Tim.  "Our hope is to engage our entire industry in this beneficial program over the next few years."  Congratulations to Tim for receiving this honor!

AGCO 2019 Operator of the Year Announced

Mose Middleton of Nutrien Ag Solutions in Rochester, Indiana, has been selected as the AGCO 2019 Operator of the Year.  The award recognizes the value of the Professional Applicators and the hard work they do caring for crops and customers across the country, along with their involvement and service to their local communities.

Mose is known as a perfectionist, who goes above and beyond.  For the past 28 years, he has made sure the customers get the best application.  "We have people call and request Mose," states Curt Klein of Nutrien Ag Solutions, "we have gained new business based on his reputation as an applicator."

As a sports enthusiast, Mose has coached many local school and Little League teams, as well as playing sports with patients at the State Hospital.  His willingness to volunteer and his passion for life has made Mose well-known in the community.

Mose was presented with the new title and the grand prize, a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle, on December 4th during the 2019 Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) Conference & Expo in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Congratulations to Mose Middleton for this well deserved honor!

The Fertilizer Institute Names New President

The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) has selected Corey Rosenbusch as its new President and CEO.  Rosenbusch currently serves as President and CEO of the Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA) and is slated to start work at TFI in early February. "Corey’s strategic and entrepreneurial mindset will be a tremendous asset to TFI as it advocates for the safe, secure, and sustainable production, distribution and use of all plant nutrition products,” said TFI Chairman Tony Will. “His excellent track record at GCCA is indicative of the talents he brings to TFI.”

Before joining GCCA, Rosenbusch lived in Indonesia implementing a USDA-funded development project for The Borlaug Institute.  Rosenbusch also served as the National FFA President. Rosenbusch succeeds Chris Jahn, who left TFI in October to lead the American Chemistry Council.

Clearinghouse Set to Open January 6 - Are You Ready?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is set to become operational on January 6, 2020.  Employers who use CDL drivers in safety-sensitive functions, such as operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), are required to register in the Clearinghouse for the purpose of conducting pre-employment queries and annual queries. Employers that use a consortia or third-party administrator (C/TPA) to manage their drug and alcohol testing program will need to designate them in their account.  Employers also need to purchase a query plan that will enable them to conduct queries to check if current and prospective employees are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions due to an unresolved drug and alcohol program violation.  Although C/TPAs cannot purchase query plans, once registered themselves, they can conduct queries on behalf of the employers. If you haven't already, please visit the Clearinghouse website to register, create an online user account and purchase a query plan to begin conducting queries on January 6, 2020.

While drivers are not required to register, a driver will need to be registered to provide electronic consent in the Clearinghouse if a prospective or current employer needs to conduct a full query of the driver’s Clearinghouse record.  A driver must also be registered to electronically view the information in his or her own Clearinghouse record.  We highly recommend drivers register and confirm that all the information in the database is accurate.

For more detailed information about the CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, check out the new Compliance Assistance Document posted in the Compliance Assistance Library on Snapshots under the Compliance Guidelines button.

USMCA is Finally a Go

After months of negotiations, it appears the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will likely pass through Congress.  Most parts of the agriculture industry are celebrating a deal which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  "USMCA is a big win for American workers and the economy, especially for our farmers and ranchers.  The agreement improves virtually every component of the old NAFTA, and the agriculture industry stands to gain significantly," said US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

"President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer are laying the foundation for a stronger farm economy through USMCA and I thank them for all their hard work and perseverance to get the agreement across the finish line.  While I am very encouraged by today's breakthrough, we must not lose sight - the House and Senate need to work diligently to pass USMCA by Christmas."  To read the full USDA statement, click here.

Update:  Since this article was first posted, the deal has passed the US House but the Senate is expected to vote sometime in early 2020.

DOT Doubles Random Drug Test Rate for 2020

DOT announced that it is increasing the minimum annual percentage rate for random controlled substances testing for drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) requiring a commercial driver's license (CDL) from the current rate of 25 percent of the average number of drivers to 50 percent of the average number of drivers, effective January 1, 2020. DOT must increase the minimum annual random testing percentage rate when the data received under the reporting requirements for any calendar year indicates that the reported positive rate is equal to or greater than 1.0 percent.

Based on the results of the 2018 FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey, the positive rate for controlled substances random testing increased to 1.0 percent.  Therefore, DOT will increase the controlled substances minimum annual percentage rate for random controlled substances testing to 50 percent of the average number of drivers.  The minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing will remain at 10 percent. Click here to read the federal register notice. 

Spring Training Dates Announced for NTIP "CT" Course

Registration for the 2020 Spring NTIP "CT" Courses is now open.  This one day course, led by John Rebholz, is designed to help train Cargo Tank Inspectors to understand their duties associated with the proper pressure, thickness and visual test/inspections for nurse tanks used for anhydrous ammonia, and will serve to provide the initial and three year refresher training.  Participants will receive a certificate valid for three years, which fulfills the training requirements for DOT's function-specific training for hazardous materials.

Many individuals who register for the "CT" Course are also interested in participating in the Ammonia Technician Course. We have scheduled one NTIP "CT" Course to coincide with the  Ammonia Technician Course, March 24 - 26, to help reduce time and costs for those who need to attend both. CT inspectors who are eligible to renew their Asmark Institute "CT" Training - watch your mail for your personalized invitation.

Classes are limited to 22 participants, so register today to ensure you get the class date most convenient for you. Have questions or need more information? Please contact Patricia at patricia@asmark.org or 270-926-4600 Ext 234.

It's Time to Register With ResponsibleAg

Nearly 2,600 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, with 1,315 facilities already receiving their certification. We encourage you to register your facilities today! For more information and to register, go to www.responsibleag.org.

IRS Decreases Standard Mileage Rates for 2020

The IRS has issued the 2020 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.  Beginning on January 1, 2020, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:
  • 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, down from 58 cents for 2019
  • 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down from 20 cents for 2019
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (No Change)
The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile.  The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs. Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

OSHA's Top 3 Unchanged for 2019

Preliminary data for OSHA’s Top 10 most cited violations for fiscal year 2019 was announced at the National Safety Council Congress and Expo in San Diego, California.  The top three violations were again in the same order: fall protection, hazard communication and scaffolding.  Others switched spots but remained on the list from 2018.

OSHA noted that not all violations had been added to its reporting system but the order of the list below is not expected to change.  The list is always a good place to start to identify hazards in the workplace.

1. Fall Protection (29 CFR 1926.501) Total of 6,010 violations. Frequently violated requirements under the fall protection standard include failure to provide fall protection for unprotected edges and open sides in residential construction and failure to provide fall protection on low-slope roofs.

2. Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200) Total of 3,671 violations. Common violated requirements include failure to have a written hazard communication program and failure to provide employee access to safety data sheets.

3. Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451) Total of 2,813 violations with the most frequent violations including improper access to surfaces and lack of guardrails.

4. Lockout/Tagout (29 CFR 1910.147) Total of 2,606 violations. Frequent violations include those regarding failure to provide employee training and failure to conduct periodic inspections.

5. Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134) Total of 2,450 violations. Typically, respiratory protection violations involve those for the failure to establish a written respiratory protection program and failure to provide medical evaluations.

6. Ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053) Total of 2,345 violations with frequent violations including improper use of ladders, damaged ladders and using the top step.

7. Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178) Total of 2,093 violations. Typical violations include failure to provide employee training and refresher training.

8. Fall Protection—Training (29 CFR 1926.503) Total of 1,773 violations. Frequently cited requirements include failure to train employees in identifying fall hazards and proper use of fall protection equipment.

9. Machine Guarding (29 CFR 1910.212) Total of 1,743 violations with the most frequent for failure to guard points of operation.

10. Eye and Face Protection (29 CFR 1926.102) Total of 1,411 violations with frequent violations for failing to ensure employees use appropriate eye or face protection.

FMCSA Website Undergoes Security Audit

At the end of October, U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General announced in a memorandum that an audit is being initiated on the security of FMCSA's information technology infrastructure.  The goal of the audit will be to "determine whether security weaknesses exist in the FMCSA's IT infrastructure that could lead to the compromise of FMCSA's systems and data."

This comes after the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners website was taken down for months due to a security breach back in December of 2017.  Although there was no personal information exposed through the breach, DOT is still wanting to take a closer look, stating in the memo the reason for the audit was "Due to the importance of FMCSA’s programs to the Nation’s transportation system and the sensitivity of some of the Agency’s information."  Click here to read DOT's memo.

Final Rule: Overtime Update

The Department of Labor announced a final rule to make 1.3 million American workers newly eligible for overtime pay.  The final rule updates the earnings thresholds necessary to exempt executive, administrative and professional employees from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.  The new thresholds account for growth in employee earnings since the thresholds were last updated in 2004.

The final rule raises the “standard salary level” from the currently enforced level of $455 per week to $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year for a full-year worker), raises the total annual compensation requirement for “highly compensated employees” from the currently enforced level of $100,000 per year to $107,432 per year and allows employers to use non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary level.  These changes went into effect on January 1, 2020.

Helping You Get a Leg Up on Regulatory Requirements

Compliance with the various regulatory requirements is an essential part of business. The crop inputs industry is subject to numerous rules, regulations and laws based on the products handled and the heavy dependence on personnel and transportation.  One great tool available to you on the Asmark Institute website is the Compliance Assistance Library.  Here complex regulatory requirements are put into layman's terms for easier understanding.  Compliance Assistance documents are listed alphabetically by title and any documents revised in the last 6 months are denoted with a red date.  Each topic features accompanying visuals and links to get more in depth information.  Many locations even report using the concise summaries as handouts.

You can access the documents by logging into Snapshots and clicking on the Compliance Guidelines in the blue navigation buttons area. If you haven't already, check out this feature today.  Dustin Warder, Manager of Regulatory Affairs, keeps the documents updated. If you have any questions or need help,  Dustin can be reached at 270-926-4600 Ext 202 or dustin@asmark.org

DOT Codifies "Rule on Rules"

DOT has announced a final rule codifying a series of important reforms to the Department’s rulemaking, guidance and enforcement practices.  The rule enhances transparency in how the Department issues rules and guidance documents, as well as strengthens due process in DOT enforcement actions.  “When rules are outdated, duplicative, overly complex and contradictory, they harm the cause of safety and effectiveness.  This effort enhances the department’s regulatory process by providing greater transparency and strengthening due process in enforcement actions,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

The rule’s major components include permanently incorporating the Trump Administration’s regulatory reform policies on regulatory budgeting, the “2-for-1” plan and the Regulatory Reform Task Force.  The Rule will codify additional procedures for the issuance of the Department’s most costly rules, including enhanced opportunities for public participation.  The rule clarifies that the Department’s guidance documents do not impose legal obligations and must not be used as a basis for enforcement. It also ensures due process protections for potential subjects of enforcement actions, including open and fair investigations and proceedings.  Click here for more information.

OSHA Issues Citations Following Confined Space Fatality

A Delaware based company is facing over $550,000 in proposed penalties after a worker asphyxiated in a confined space.  In May 2019, a 29-year-old was servicing a rail car when he lost consciousness during the task and was later pronounced dead.  The company received four willful and three serious violations for failing to protect employees from the hazards of entering permit-required confined spaces, failure to retain the canceled entry permit and inadequate respiratory protection procedures.  The agency also placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  This serves as a reminder to follow proper safety procedures for confined space entry and to test and monitor confined spaces for oxygen content before and during entry.

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.