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Newsletter
Volume 202
September 1, 2020

Remembering Pat Hodges of Squibb-Taylor

The Asmark Institute team was heartbroken to hear that Pat Hodges, of Squibb-Taylor, passed away suddenly on August 22nd.  Pat was considered one of the leading experts in the US and Canada when it came to anhydrous ammonia equipment and safety.  His career with Squibb-Taylor spanned 47 years, beginning in 1974.  Pat was a huge supporter of the Asmark Institute and was a tremendous resource in developing training scenarios for our ammonia related courses.  His huge Texas heart and giving spirit made him generous with both his time and talents.  If not for his significant contributions, Asmark's Ammonia Technician Course (ATC) would not exist today.  In addition to the ATC Course, his help with the development of the Nurse Tank Inspection Course, as well as the ammonia installations at the Ford B West Training Center for Responsible Agriculture, were invaluable.  Pat's contributions have been instrumental to our mission.  He was constantly looking for ways to improve equipment function and operations and always had innovative ideas on how to do so.

John Rebholz, Lead Instructor for both the Ammonia Technician and Nurse Tank Inspection Courses, said "Pat was always willing to give his time and expertise to help the industry.  At any time I had a question or needed a piece of equipment for the classroom, Pat was always willing to provide the equipment or technical support.  The Ag ammonia industry has lost a true friend."

The Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association recently featured Pat in a "Member Spotlight" and if you didn't get a chance to read about Pat's life, please read it here.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Teresa, his children and his grandchildren.  Pat had truly a wonderful life and so many things in our industry are better, and safer, because of him.  We will miss him dearly!

International Roadcheck Rescheduled for September 9-11th

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) International Roadcheck has been rescheduled for September 9-11, 2020. Over the 72-hour period, commercial motor vehicle inspectors throughout North America will conduct inspections on commercial motor vehicles and drivers.  This year’s focus is on the driver requirements component of a roadside inspection.

During International Roadcheck, CVSA-certified inspectors will primarily conduct the North American Standard Level I Inspection, a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness.  The vehicle inspection includes checking critical inspection items such as: brake systems; cargo securement; coupling devices; driveline/driveshaft; driver’s seat (missing); exhaust systems; frames; fuel systems; lighting devices (headlamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, turn signals and lamps/flags on projecting loads); steering mechanisms; suspensions; tires; van and open-top trailer bodies; wheels, rims and hubs; and/or windshield wipers.

For the driver portion of an inspection, the inspector will collect and verify the driver’s documents, identify the motor carrier, examine the driver’s license, check record of duty status and review periodic inspection reports.  If applicable, the inspector will check the Medical Examiner’s Certificate, Skill Performance Evaluation Certificate and the driver’s daily vehicle inspection report.  Inspectors also will check drivers for seat belt usage, illness, fatigue and apparent alcohol or drug possession or impairment.  If no critical inspection item violations are found during a Level I Inspection, a CVSA decal will be applied to the vehicle.  If an inspector does identify critical inspection item violations, they may place the driver or vehicle out of service.

2020 ERG Books Pushed Back Again

As previously announced, the updated DOT 2020 Emergency Response Guidebooks (ERGs) are being pushed back yet again due to the challenges encountered by COVID-19.  Originally expected in the Spring, they were pushed back to this Summer.  Now we've received word from the supplier that it will likely be late Fall before the updated version is released.

Until the updated version is made available, you will want to continue using the 2016 books.  DOT requires hazardous materials shipments to be accompanied by emergency response information (49 CFR 172.602), and the ERG book can help you meet this requirement.  A copy of the 2016 ERG should be placed in each vehicle that transports a DOT hazardous material until the new, updated version is released.

Clearinghouse Data for First 6 Months

As of June, over 130,000 employers have registered for the FMCSA's Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse.  There are now 971,914 driver accounts and over 1.1 million queries have been conducted.  So far only about 25,000 violations have been reported to the Clearinghouse.  Positive drug tests account for 80% of the total violations reported.  Marijuana was the substance identified the most in positive drug tests.  If a driver has a drug and alcohol program violation recorded against them in the Clearinghouse, that driver must be removed from safety-sensitive functions, including operating a commercial motor vehicle, until they have completed the return-to-duty process.  There are currently over 24,000 drivers in the return-to-duty process.

ResponsibleAg  - Committed. Compliant. Safe.

Over 2,570 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program.  More than 1,300 are currently certified, many of which are in their second cycle becoming re-certified.  We encourage you to visit responsibleag.org to learn more and see the list of participating members.  Click here to read why your peers are in the program.  If you aren't registered, don't delay  - register today!

ResponsibleAg is an industry-led initiative committed to helping agribusinesses properly store and handle farm input supplies.  The program helps members ensure they are compliant with environmental, health, safety and security regulations to keep employees, customers and our communities safe.

Next Gen Fertilizer Challenges Announced

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have announced the Next Gen Fertilizer Challenges, a joint EPA-USDA partnership and competition to advance agricultural sustainability in the United States.  The competition includes two challenges that seek proposals for new and existing fertilizer technologies to maintain or improve crop yields while reducing the impacts of fertilizers on the environment.  "The shared goal here is to accelerate the development of next generation fertilizers for corn production that can either maintain or increase crop yields while reducing environmental impacts to our air, land and water," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.  Along with EPA and USDA, the competition is coordinated with The Fertilizer Institute, the International Fertilizer Development Center, the National Corn Growers Association and The Nature Conservancy.

The first challenge aims to identify existing Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers (EEFs) that meet or exceed certain environmental and agro-economic criteria.  EEF is a term for new formulations that control fertilizer release or alter reactions that reduce nutrient losses to the environment.  This challenge will not have a monetary prize, but winners will receive scientific evaluation of their product and recognition from EPA, USDA and other collaborators.  The second challenge aims to generate new concepts for novel technologies that can help address environmental concerns surrounding agriculture practices while maintaining or increasing crop yields.  A panel of expert judges will review the submissions.  Each winner will receive at least $10,000.  Registrants must submit their entries by October 30, 2020 for the first challenge, and by November 30, 2020 for the second challenge.  Winners will be announced in the winter of 2021.

FDA Outlines New Era of Smarter Food Safety

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched a web portal that lays out a plan for the full implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) over the next decade.  The world around us is changing rapidly and many believe we will see more changes in the food system over the next 10 years than we have in decades.  The plan, called the New Era for Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, is centered around four core elements:
  • Tech-enabled Traceability;
  • Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention and Outbreak Response;
  • New Business Models and Retail Modernization; and
  • Food Safety Culture.
Overall, the plan is to create a more digital, traceable and safer food system that advances food safety and better prepares us for unexpected events that could impact the food supply, such as the one we are experiencing now. Keep an eye out as the blueprint develops into a detailed action plan over the next decade.

Cal/OSHA Requires Lighting for Nighttime Agricultural Operations

Cal/OSHA has set lighting requirements for outdoor agricultural operations taking place between sunset and sunrise in California.  The requirements include safety meetings at the beginning of each shift to inform employees of the location of restrooms, drinking water, designated break areas, nearby bodies of water and high traffic areas.  Nighttime activities require employers to provide Class 2 high visibility garments as well.  Click here for more information.

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 Pat Hodges of Squibb-Taylor

The Asmark Institute team was heartbroken to hear that Pat Hodges, of Squibb-Taylor, passed away suddenly on August 22nd.  Pat was considered one of the leading experts in the US and Canada when it came to anhydrous ammonia equipment and safety.  His career with Squibb-Taylor spanned 47 years, beginning in 1974.  Pat was a huge supporter of the Asmark Institute and was a tremendous resource in developing training scenarios for our ammonia related courses.  His huge Texas heart and giving spirit made him generous with both his time and talents.  If not for his significant contributions, Asmark's Ammonia Technician Course (ATC) would not exist today.  In addition to the ATC Course, his help with the development of the Nurse Tank Inspection Course, as well as the ammonia installations at the Ford B West Training Center for Responsible Agriculture, were invaluable.  Pat's contributions have been instrumental to our mission.  He was constantly looking for ways to improve equipment function and operations and always had innovative ideas on how to do so.

John Rebholz, Lead Instructor for both the Ammonia Technician and Nurse Tank Inspection Courses, said "Pat was always willing to give his time and expertise to help the industry.  At any time I had a question or needed a piece of equipment for the classroom, Pat was always willing to provide the equipment or technical support.  The Ag ammonia industry has lost a true friend."

The Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association recently featured Pat in a "Member Spotlight" and if you didn't get a chance to read about Pat's life, please read it here.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Teresa, his children and his grandchildren.  Pat had truly a wonderful life and so many things in our industry are better, and safer, because of him.  We will miss him dearly!

International Roadcheck Rescheduled for September 9-11th

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) International Roadcheck has been rescheduled for September 9-11, 2020. Over the 72-hour period, commercial motor vehicle inspectors throughout North America will conduct inspections on commercial motor vehicles and drivers.  This year’s focus is on the driver requirements component of a roadside inspection.

During International Roadcheck, CVSA-certified inspectors will primarily conduct the North American Standard Level I Inspection, a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness.  The vehicle inspection includes checking critical inspection items such as: brake systems; cargo securement; coupling devices; driveline/driveshaft; driver’s seat (missing); exhaust systems; frames; fuel systems; lighting devices (headlamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, turn signals and lamps/flags on projecting loads); steering mechanisms; suspensions; tires; van and open-top trailer bodies; wheels, rims and hubs; and/or windshield wipers.

For the driver portion of an inspection, the inspector will collect and verify the driver’s documents, identify the motor carrier, examine the driver’s license, check record of duty status and review periodic inspection reports.  If applicable, the inspector will check the Medical Examiner’s Certificate, Skill Performance Evaluation Certificate and the driver’s daily vehicle inspection report.  Inspectors also will check drivers for seat belt usage, illness, fatigue and apparent alcohol or drug possession or impairment.  If no critical inspection item violations are found during a Level I Inspection, a CVSA decal will be applied to the vehicle.  If an inspector does identify critical inspection item violations, they may place the driver or vehicle out of service.

2020 ERG Books Pushed Back Again

As previously announced, the updated DOT 2020 Emergency Response Guidebooks (ERGs) are being pushed back yet again due to the challenges encountered by COVID-19.  Originally expected in the Spring, they were pushed back to this Summer.  Now we've received word from the supplier that it will likely be late Fall before the updated version is released.

Until the updated version is made available, you will want to continue using the 2016 books.  DOT requires hazardous materials shipments to be accompanied by emergency response information (49 CFR 172.602), and the ERG book can help you meet this requirement.  A copy of the 2016 ERG should be placed in each vehicle that transports a DOT hazardous material until the new, updated version is released.

Clearinghouse Data for First 6 Months

As of June, over 130,000 employers have registered for the FMCSA's Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse.  There are now 971,914 driver accounts and over 1.1 million queries have been conducted.  So far only about 25,000 violations have been reported to the Clearinghouse.  Positive drug tests account for 80% of the total violations reported.  Marijuana was the substance identified the most in positive drug tests.  If a driver has a drug and alcohol program violation recorded against them in the Clearinghouse, that driver must be removed from safety-sensitive functions, including operating a commercial motor vehicle, until they have completed the return-to-duty process.  There are currently over 24,000 drivers in the return-to-duty process.

ResponsibleAg  - Committed. Compliant. Safe.

Over 2,570 facilities have registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program.  More than 1,300 are currently certified, many of which are in their second cycle becoming re-certified.  We encourage you to visit responsibleag.org to learn more and see the list of participating members.  Click here to read why your peers are in the program.  If you aren't registered, don't delay  - register today!

ResponsibleAg is an industry-led initiative committed to helping agribusinesses properly store and handle farm input supplies.  The program helps members ensure they are compliant with environmental, health, safety and security regulations to keep employees, customers and our communities safe.

Next Gen Fertilizer Challenges Announced

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have announced the Next Gen Fertilizer Challenges, a joint EPA-USDA partnership and competition to advance agricultural sustainability in the United States.  The competition includes two challenges that seek proposals for new and existing fertilizer technologies to maintain or improve crop yields while reducing the impacts of fertilizers on the environment.  "The shared goal here is to accelerate the development of next generation fertilizers for corn production that can either maintain or increase crop yields while reducing environmental impacts to our air, land and water," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.  Along with EPA and USDA, the competition is coordinated with The Fertilizer Institute, the International Fertilizer Development Center, the National Corn Growers Association and The Nature Conservancy.

The first challenge aims to identify existing Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers (EEFs) that meet or exceed certain environmental and agro-economic criteria.  EEF is a term for new formulations that control fertilizer release or alter reactions that reduce nutrient losses to the environment.  This challenge will not have a monetary prize, but winners will receive scientific evaluation of their product and recognition from EPA, USDA and other collaborators.  The second challenge aims to generate new concepts for novel technologies that can help address environmental concerns surrounding agriculture practices while maintaining or increasing crop yields.  A panel of expert judges will review the submissions.  Each winner will receive at least $10,000.  Registrants must submit their entries by October 30, 2020 for the first challenge, and by November 30, 2020 for the second challenge.  Winners will be announced in the winter of 2021.

FDA Outlines New Era of Smarter Food Safety

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched a web portal that lays out a plan for the full implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) over the next decade.  The world around us is changing rapidly and many believe we will see more changes in the food system over the next 10 years than we have in decades.  The plan, called the New Era for Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, is centered around four core elements:
  • Tech-enabled Traceability;
  • Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention and Outbreak Response;
  • New Business Models and Retail Modernization; and
  • Food Safety Culture.
Overall, the plan is to create a more digital, traceable and safer food system that advances food safety and better prepares us for unexpected events that could impact the food supply, such as the one we are experiencing now. Keep an eye out as the blueprint develops into a detailed action plan over the next decade.

Cal/OSHA Requires Lighting for Nighttime Agricultural Operations

Cal/OSHA has set lighting requirements for outdoor agricultural operations taking place between sunset and sunrise in California.  The requirements include safety meetings at the beginning of each shift to inform employees of the location of restrooms, drinking water, designated break areas, nearby bodies of water and high traffic areas.  Nighttime activities require employers to provide Class 2 high visibility garments as well.  Click here for more information.

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.