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Newsletter
Volume 77
April 2, 2010
2010 Environmental Respect Awards...Enter today!
It started in 1990, when more than 400 dealers from 30 states shared their stories of environmental respect -- having a clean, safe facility, having emergency response plans in place and having spent the time needed to effectively train their people. The Environmental Respect Awards - a program to recognize and promote environmental stewardship in farm supply retailers across the U.S. - was born.
For twenty years, the Environmental Respect Awards program has strived to encourage and honor excellence in stewardship, educate retailers and distributors around the world on safe business practices, and promote environmentalism in agriculture to the industry and the general public. The dealers and distributors that are honored with Environmental Respect Awards have displayed outstanding initiative and are shining examples of what it takes to make the world a safer, cleaner place to live. We encourage our clients to enter. Click here for more information.
2010 Emergency Response Training Continues
The first set of five Emergency Response to Agricultural Incidents courses is wrapping up in LaVergne, Tennessee this week. Invitations for the next set of eight classes in June, July and August have been mailed. Classes are beginning to fill up, so register today to ensure space is available for the class of your choice. Register online by clicking here.
Plans are being made to announce the 8-hour Refresher Course training schedule in June. This year there are almost 1,000 people eligible for training in 40 different states. We are busy mapping out where everyone is located and scheduling where the remote locations for training will be this year.
EPA Has a New Inspection Policy
EPA recently announced a new national policy at the American Association of Pesticide Control Officials meeting. The new policy allows for EPA inspections to start routinely at a facility until a violation is discovered; when that happens, the agency personnel are now directed to inspect all locations of that company. The following list outlines the top inspection areas:
  1. Areas near and around water for possible pesticide contamination.
  2. Compliance enforcement - Inspections will be made at facilities with past violations first.
    1. This area also includes inspections for misbranded and/or adulterated pesticides, mainly imports from countries like China.
    2. If a company is not in compliance upon re-inspection, the agency will seek recovery of all economic benefit for non-compliance, plus regulatory fines.
  3. Fumigants and fumigation practices to ensure worker protection standards are met.
Federal inspections have remained fairly constant at approximately 1,000 annually, but state inspections have risen to 88,000 with 17,600 enforcement actions. This is a significant amount of inspections considering there are only about 9,000 U.S. facilities that sell pesticides.
Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) Being Launched
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) pre-employment screening program (PSP) will be designed to help motor carriers make more informed hiring decisions by providing electronic access to a driver's crash and inspection history from the FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). The system is expected to launch in early 2010, and enrollment for PSP is available now. PSP will assist the motor carrier industry in assessing individual operators' crash and serious safety violation history as a pre-employment condition. There is a $10 fee for each driver's history a carrier requests. An annual subscription fee of $100 will also apply. Carriers with fewer than 100 power units will qualify for a discounted annual fee of $25 per year. Individuals will be able to request a personal driving history for a fee of $10. No subscription is necessary for individual drivers. Click here to access PSP.
CFATS Update
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced to date, there are a total of 6,023 CFATS facilities, with 230 labeled as Tier 1, 563 as Tier 2, 1,231 as Tier 3, and 3,999 as Tier 4. DHS has issued final tiering notification letters to 3,507 facilities so far.
90 Day Hours of Service Waiver Granted for Ammonia
On March 8, 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a limited 90 day waiver from the hours of service requirements for the delivery of anhydrous ammonia between terminals and retail sites for the 2010 spring planting season. This waiver only applies to the transportation of anhydrous ammonia from the wholesale distribution point (the terminal) to the retail site. The transportation of all other ag inputs, including ammonia, from retail to farm, farm to farm, and farm back to retail site, within a 100 mile radius, has not changed and these movements remain exempt from the hours of service regulations for the entire calendar year. Carriers must maintain a satisfactory safety rating to use this waiver. If you have a conditional or unsatisfactory rating, use of the waiver is prohibited. If you are "unrated" as a carrier, you can also utilize the exception since you have not yet received a compliance review to determine your safety status. If you have any accidents or discharges with ammonia, you must also report them as described in the Summary of Hours of Service Limited 90-Day Waiver. Click here to view the summary. This waiver was made possible by the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, The Fertilizer Institute, the Agricultural Retailers Association and FMCSA.
Federal & State Labor Law Poster Update
We all seem to be bombarded weekly by some "official" looking letter telling us we need to update our labor law posters. It's sometimes difficult to know if you should act or ignore this aggressive form of correspondence. To try and help, we will from time to time provide you a list of the required Federal and State updates that have occurred. One recent change is the new Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) which became effective November 21, 2009 and will require updates to the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) posting. This change was effective on November 21, 2009, but was not available on posters until sometime in December, 2009. Posters purchased in the last three months contain the new wording. Updated posters can be purchased on our website under Online Services - National Labor Law Poster Program.
NGFA Engages OSHA on New Policy on Sweep Augers
The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) issued a letter to OSHA urging the agency to immediately withdraw and reconsider its interpretation letter that created a new policy for operating sweep augers inside grain bins. OSHA issued the letter in response to an inquiry from an insurance company representative who had asked: 1) if a sweep auger can be operated in a bin with an employee present; and 2) if not, what method or procedure OSHA would find acceptable for removing grain from flat-bottom grain bins. Other than a provision in the OSHA grain handling safety standard that addresses whether an employee may enter a bin when machines are operating, the agency does not have a formal policy addressing the operation of sweep augers. But in the letter of interpretation, OSHA flatly stated that an employee cannot work inside a bin while an unguarded sweep auger is in operation.
In NGFA's letter to OSHA Director of Enforcement Programs Richard Fairfax, the NGFA said it was "dismayed" at OSHA's letter of interpretation given that the agency previously had met with representatives of NGFA and the Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS). The NGFA faulted the agency for not offering in its letter of interpretation, any type of procedure to remove grain from a bin if an unguarded sweep auger cannot be used. Nor did it define what is meant by guarded or unguarded. NGFA also cited several adverse impacts OSHA's letter of interpretation would have if it is not withdrawn and is in the process of trying to arrange a meeting with the agency.
Efforts to Revise the National Nutrient 590 Standard Underway
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) have been engaged in efforts to assist USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in its efforts to revise the national 590 nutrient management standard. The 590 serves as a template for implementation of nutrient management plans and state 590 standards. A small subcommittee of phosphorus experts, which includes an IPNI representative, has been formed to advise NRCS regarding revisions to the 590 standard, including the potential development of a phosphorus index.
This issue is important to TFI members because although the draft standard currently seeks to limit manure application on phosphorus saturated soils, it could cross over and limit phosphorus fertilizer application in situations where the fertilizer still elicits a growth and yield response. NRCS states that it has become difficult to manage 50 different indices as part of a national standard, necessitating the development of a Phosphorus Risk Assessment Tool (PRAT). There is also pressure from environmental groups for an index to limit the application of phosphorus to soils that are at risk to excessive loss and for one that facilitates a decrease in high soil test phosphorus levels. However, TFI questions the scientific validity of a single standard for every state and every crop and soil type. TFI has learned that the committee has received feedback from NRCS that includes a charge regarding how the committee should approach developing a phosphorus index. The full response from NRCS is available here.
Stiffer Penalties Set for HazMat Violations
To account for the effects of inflation, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has increased its civil penalties 10 percent for hazardous materials transportation violations. The new penalties are:
  • Minimum - $275, except that the minimum for a violation related to training is $495.
  • Maximum - $55,000, except that amount may be raised to $110,000 for a violation resulting in death, serious illness, or severe injury to a person or substantial destruction of property.
DOT to Revise Drug Testing Procedures
DOT issued a proposed rule to offer changes to the drug testing rules at 49 CFR 40 to create consistency with this latest set of requirements established by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These changes may result in a 10 percent increase in positive drug tests for commercial drivers, according to HHS estimates. DOT is proposing to allow the use of urine testing facilities other than government-approved laboratories. These so-called facilities would be authorized to perform screening tests on urine, but would have to forward all positives to a certified laboratory for further testing.
Some of the proposed changes will also affect the roles and standards applying to labs, collection facilities, and medical personnel who are involved in testing drivers and other transportation professionals. The amended rules would also mean that drivers will be tested for several new types of amphetamines, including Ecstasy, and would face lower cutoff levels on the use of amphetamines and cocaine.
Teen Worker Safety Information
Do you have teen employees at your workplace? Do you know where you can find safety and health information for these young workers? Check these out:
EPA Urged to Target Facilities for RMP Inspection
EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) published a report concluding that EPA should improve its program management and oversight to better assure that facilities covered by the Risk Management Program submit or re-submit a risk management plan (RMP). OIG urged EPA to develop inspection requirements to target higher-priority facilities for inspection and track its progress in completing inspections of those facilities. The Inspector General also recommends that EPA implement additional management controls to better identify facilities with regulated chemicals that have not filed RMPs.
OIG found that EPA had not inspected or audited over half (296 of 493) of the high-risk facilities identified by EPA's Office of Emergency Management (OEM). Since most states have not accepted delegation of the program, EPA is responsible for ensuring compliance for over 84 percent of facilities nationwide. Of the 296 uninspected high-risk facilities managed by EPA, 151 could each impact 100,000 people or more in a worst-case accident. Accident data suggests uninspected high-risk facilities are more than five times as likely to have an accident as uninspected lower-risk facilities.
OIG also found that EPA had not established national procedures for identifying covered facilities that had not submitted RMPs. For the five states reviewed by the OIG, the Inspector General identified 48 facilities in three states that reported large amounts of covered chemicals stored onsite that had not filed RMPs. These facilities are potential RMP non-filers. For example, 10 such facilities already reported having over 100,000 pounds of ammonia onsite at one time, which is 10 times greater than the regulatory threshold. Additionally, the status of nearly one-third (452 of 1,516) of the facilities EPA identified in 2005 as being past their due date for re-submitting an RMP, had not been resolved and updated in the RMP National Database as of March 2008.
EPA Corrects Error in Tier II Reporting Final Rule
EPA issued a final rule on November 3, 2008 affecting the regulation covering Tier II chemical inventory reporting. EPA issued another final rule to correct a technical error to the regulatory text in the original rulemaking. Prior to the November final rule, the instructions to the Tier II inventory form in 40 CFR 370 allowed facilities to include optional attachments with their inventory form. These optional items include:
  • Site plan with site coordinates.
  • List of site coordinate abbreviations corresponding to buildings, lots, etc.
  • Description of dikes and other safeguard measures for storage locations throughout the facility.
Although EPA did not propose any revisions to these specific instructions in its June 1998 proposed rule, the agency made an error in the November 2008 final rule, while reorganizing the instructions to the Tier II inventory form. EPA inadvertently listed one of the optional items, description of dikes and other safeguard measures, as a required item in §370.42(i)(9). The latest final rule corrects this error by deleting the phrase, "a description of dikes and other safeguard measures for each location listed" from §370.42(i)(9), and re-inserting this phrase into §370.42(i)(8), which has also been re-formatted to provide greater clarity.
Ten Trends in Taxes for the Coming Year
The IRS is in the process of hiring 6,000 to 9,000 new auditors, collectors and investigators to close what the government sees as a gap between what it collects and what is due. Other trends on the horizon include new international accounting standards, higher federal taxes stemming from health care reform and climate change, and more local and state taxes to cover funding shortfalls.
OSHA Lists Top 10 Workplace Safety Violations
Scaffolding violations topped the list of the OSHA's preliminary list of the top 10 most frequent safety violations for 2009. Fall protection violations and hazard communication violations came in second and third place, respectively. OSHA noted that the number of most common violations rose 30% in 2009 from year-ago levels. The workplace violations are:
1. Scaffolding - 9,093 violations
Scaffold accidents most often result from the planking or support giving way, or from the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.
2. Fall Protection - 6,771 violations
Any time a worker is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime, and six feet in construction.
3. Hazard Communication - 6,378 violations
Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers, who in turn have responsibilities to train and provide MSDS to their employees.
4. Respiratory Protection - 3,803 violations
Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors, and sprays. Training, fit tests and medical evaluations are required.
5. Lockout-Tagout - 3,321 violations
"Lockout-Tagout" refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected start up of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.
6. Electrical (Wiring) - 3,079 violations
Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and sales people, work with electricity indirectly and may also be exposed to electrical hazards.
7. Ladders - 3,072 violations
Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for 8% of all occupational fatalities from trauma.
8. Powered Industrial Trucks - 2,993 violations
Each year, tens of thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (PIT), or forklifts, occur in U.S. workplaces. Many employees are injured when lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks, lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer, they are struck by a lift truck, or when they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.
9. Electrical (General) - 2,556 violations
Working with electricity can be dangerous. Personnel, such as office workers and sales people, work with electricity indirectly and may be exposed to electrical hazards.
10. Machine Guarding - 2,364 violations
Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injures the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.
ASABE to Revise Standards on Ag Equipment Lighting & Marking
The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has initiated projects to revise two of its most frequently cited engineering standards, ANSI/ASAE S276.6, Slow Moving Vehicle Identification Emblem (SMV Emblem) and ANSI/ASAE S279.14, Lighting and Marking of Agricultural Equipment on Highways. A possible addition to the standard is the incorporation of rotary beacons or strobe lights, and of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) on agricultural equipment. S276.6 is being revised to update the testing requirements for the backing materials of the SMV Emblem.
New Passenger Vehicle Rules
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) amended the regulations to require that motor carriers operating commercial motor vehicles designed or used to transport between nine and fifteen passengers (including the driver) in interstate commerce for direct compensation, comply with 49 CFR 390 to 393, 395, and 396, regardless of the distance traveled. This final rule makes certain safety regulations applicable to the operation of such vehicles when they are operated not only beyond, but also within, a 75 air-mile radius from the driver's normal work-reporting location.
2010 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.
2010 Environmental Respect Awards...Enter today!
It started in 1990, when more than 400 dealers from 30 states shared their stories of environmental respect -- having a clean, safe facility, having emergency response plans in place and having spent the time needed to effectively train their people. The Environmental Respect Awards - a program to recognize and promote environmental stewardship in farm supply retailers across the U.S. - was born.
For twenty years, the Environmental Respect Awards program has strived to encourage and honor excellence in stewardship, educate retailers and distributors around the world on safe business practices, and promote environmentalism in agriculture to the industry and the general public. The dealers and distributors that are honored with Environmental Respect Awards have displayed outstanding initiative and are shining examples of what it takes to make the world a safer, cleaner place to live. We encourage our clients to enter. Click here for more information.
2010 Emergency Response Training Continues
The first set of five Emergency Response to Agricultural Incidents courses is wrapping up in LaVergne, Tennessee this week. Invitations for the next set of eight classes in June, July and August have been mailed. Classes are beginning to fill up, so register today to ensure space is available for the class of your choice. Register online by clicking here.
Plans are being made to announce the 8-hour Refresher Course training schedule in June. This year there are almost 1,000 people eligible for training in 40 different states. We are busy mapping out where everyone is located and scheduling where the remote locations for training will be this year.
EPA Has a New Inspection Policy
EPA recently announced a new national policy at the American Association of Pesticide Control Officials meeting. The new policy allows for EPA inspections to start routinely at a facility until a violation is discovered; when that happens, the agency personnel are now directed to inspect all locations of that company. The following list outlines the top inspection areas:
  1. Areas near and around water for possible pesticide contamination.
  2. Compliance enforcement - Inspections will be made at facilities with past violations first.
    1. This area also includes inspections for misbranded and/or adulterated pesticides, mainly imports from countries like China.
    2. If a company is not in compliance upon re-inspection, the agency will seek recovery of all economic benefit for non-compliance, plus regulatory fines.
  3. Fumigants and fumigation practices to ensure worker protection standards are met.
Federal inspections have remained fairly constant at approximately 1,000 annually, but state inspections have risen to 88,000 with 17,600 enforcement actions. This is a significant amount of inspections considering there are only about 9,000 U.S. facilities that sell pesticides.
Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) Being Launched
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) pre-employment screening program (PSP) will be designed to help motor carriers make more informed hiring decisions by providing electronic access to a driver's crash and inspection history from the FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). The system is expected to launch in early 2010, and enrollment for PSP is available now. PSP will assist the motor carrier industry in assessing individual operators' crash and serious safety violation history as a pre-employment condition. There is a $10 fee for each driver's history a carrier requests. An annual subscription fee of $100 will also apply. Carriers with fewer than 100 power units will qualify for a discounted annual fee of $25 per year. Individuals will be able to request a personal driving history for a fee of $10. No subscription is necessary for individual drivers. Click here to access PSP.
CFATS Update
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced to date, there are a total of 6,023 CFATS facilities, with 230 labeled as Tier 1, 563 as Tier 2, 1,231 as Tier 3, and 3,999 as Tier 4. DHS has issued final tiering notification letters to 3,507 facilities so far.
90 Day Hours of Service Waiver Granted for Ammonia
On March 8, 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a limited 90 day waiver from the hours of service requirements for the delivery of anhydrous ammonia between terminals and retail sites for the 2010 spring planting season. This waiver only applies to the transportation of anhydrous ammonia from the wholesale distribution point (the terminal) to the retail site. The transportation of all other ag inputs, including ammonia, from retail to farm, farm to farm, and farm back to retail site, within a 100 mile radius, has not changed and these movements remain exempt from the hours of service regulations for the entire calendar year. Carriers must maintain a satisfactory safety rating to use this waiver. If you have a conditional or unsatisfactory rating, use of the waiver is prohibited. If you are "unrated" as a carrier, you can also utilize the exception since you have not yet received a compliance review to determine your safety status. If you have any accidents or discharges with ammonia, you must also report them as described in the Summary of Hours of Service Limited 90-Day Waiver. Click here to view the summary. This waiver was made possible by the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, The Fertilizer Institute, the Agricultural Retailers Association and FMCSA.
Federal & State Labor Law Poster Update
We all seem to be bombarded weekly by some "official" looking letter telling us we need to update our labor law posters. It's sometimes difficult to know if you should act or ignore this aggressive form of correspondence. To try and help, we will from time to time provide you a list of the required Federal and State updates that have occurred. One recent change is the new Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) which became effective November 21, 2009 and will require updates to the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) posting. This change was effective on November 21, 2009, but was not available on posters until sometime in December, 2009. Posters purchased in the last three months contain the new wording. Updated posters can be purchased on our website under Online Services - National Labor Law Poster Program.
NGFA Engages OSHA on New Policy on Sweep Augers
The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) issued a letter to OSHA urging the agency to immediately withdraw and reconsider its interpretation letter that created a new policy for operating sweep augers inside grain bins. OSHA issued the letter in response to an inquiry from an insurance company representative who had asked: 1) if a sweep auger can be operated in a bin with an employee present; and 2) if not, what method or procedure OSHA would find acceptable for removing grain from flat-bottom grain bins. Other than a provision in the OSHA grain handling safety standard that addresses whether an employee may enter a bin when machines are operating, the agency does not have a formal policy addressing the operation of sweep augers. But in the letter of interpretation, OSHA flatly stated that an employee cannot work inside a bin while an unguarded sweep auger is in operation.
In NGFA's letter to OSHA Director of Enforcement Programs Richard Fairfax, the NGFA said it was "dismayed" at OSHA's letter of interpretation given that the agency previously had met with representatives of NGFA and the Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS). The NGFA faulted the agency for not offering in its letter of interpretation, any type of procedure to remove grain from a bin if an unguarded sweep auger cannot be used. Nor did it define what is meant by guarded or unguarded. NGFA also cited several adverse impacts OSHA's letter of interpretation would have if it is not withdrawn and is in the process of trying to arrange a meeting with the agency.
Efforts to Revise the National Nutrient 590 Standard Underway
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) have been engaged in efforts to assist USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in its efforts to revise the national 590 nutrient management standard. The 590 serves as a template for implementation of nutrient management plans and state 590 standards. A small subcommittee of phosphorus experts, which includes an IPNI representative, has been formed to advise NRCS regarding revisions to the 590 standard, including the potential development of a phosphorus index.
This issue is important to TFI members because although the draft standard currently seeks to limit manure application on phosphorus saturated soils, it could cross over and limit phosphorus fertilizer application in situations where the fertilizer still elicits a growth and yield response. NRCS states that it has become difficult to manage 50 different indices as part of a national standard, necessitating the development of a Phosphorus Risk Assessment Tool (PRAT). There is also pressure from environmental groups for an index to limit the application of phosphorus to soils that are at risk to excessive loss and for one that facilitates a decrease in high soil test phosphorus levels. However, TFI questions the scientific validity of a single standard for every state and every crop and soil type. TFI has learned that the committee has received feedback from NRCS that includes a charge regarding how the committee should approach developing a phosphorus index. The full response from NRCS is available here.
Stiffer Penalties Set for HazMat Violations
To account for the effects of inflation, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has increased its civil penalties 10 percent for hazardous materials transportation violations. The new penalties are:
  • Minimum - $275, except that the minimum for a violation related to training is $495.
  • Maximum - $55,000, except that amount may be raised to $110,000 for a violation resulting in death, serious illness, or severe injury to a person or substantial destruction of property.
DOT to Revise Drug Testing Procedures
DOT issued a proposed rule to offer changes to the drug testing rules at 49 CFR 40 to create consistency with this latest set of requirements established by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These changes may result in a 10 percent increase in positive drug tests for commercial drivers, according to HHS estimates. DOT is proposing to allow the use of urine testing facilities other than government-approved laboratories. These so-called facilities would be authorized to perform screening tests on urine, but would have to forward all positives to a certified laboratory for further testing.
Some of the proposed changes will also affect the roles and standards applying to labs, collection facilities, and medical personnel who are involved in testing drivers and other transportation professionals. The amended rules would also mean that drivers will be tested for several new types of amphetamines, including Ecstasy, and would face lower cutoff levels on the use of amphetamines and cocaine.
Teen Worker Safety Information
Do you have teen employees at your workplace? Do you know where you can find safety and health information for these young workers? Check these out:
EPA Urged to Target Facilities for RMP Inspection
EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) published a report concluding that EPA should improve its program management and oversight to better assure that facilities covered by the Risk Management Program submit or re-submit a risk management plan (RMP). OIG urged EPA to develop inspection requirements to target higher-priority facilities for inspection and track its progress in completing inspections of those facilities. The Inspector General also recommends that EPA implement additional management controls to better identify facilities with regulated chemicals that have not filed RMPs.
OIG found that EPA had not inspected or audited over half (296 of 493) of the high-risk facilities identified by EPA's Office of Emergency Management (OEM). Since most states have not accepted delegation of the program, EPA is responsible for ensuring compliance for over 84 percent of facilities nationwide. Of the 296 uninspected high-risk facilities managed by EPA, 151 could each impact 100,000 people or more in a worst-case accident. Accident data suggests uninspected high-risk facilities are more than five times as likely to have an accident as uninspected lower-risk facilities.
OIG also found that EPA had not established national procedures for identifying covered facilities that had not submitted RMPs. For the five states reviewed by the OIG, the Inspector General identified 48 facilities in three states that reported large amounts of covered chemicals stored onsite that had not filed RMPs. These facilities are potential RMP non-filers. For example, 10 such facilities already reported having over 100,000 pounds of ammonia onsite at one time, which is 10 times greater than the regulatory threshold. Additionally, the status of nearly one-third (452 of 1,516) of the facilities EPA identified in 2005 as being past their due date for re-submitting an RMP, had not been resolved and updated in the RMP National Database as of March 2008.
EPA Corrects Error in Tier II Reporting Final Rule
EPA issued a final rule on November 3, 2008 affecting the regulation covering Tier II chemical inventory reporting. EPA issued another final rule to correct a technical error to the regulatory text in the original rulemaking. Prior to the November final rule, the instructions to the Tier II inventory form in 40 CFR 370 allowed facilities to include optional attachments with their inventory form. These optional items include:
  • Site plan with site coordinates.
  • List of site coordinate abbreviations corresponding to buildings, lots, etc.
  • Description of dikes and other safeguard measures for storage locations throughout the facility.
Although EPA did not propose any revisions to these specific instructions in its June 1998 proposed rule, the agency made an error in the November 2008 final rule, while reorganizing the instructions to the Tier II inventory form. EPA inadvertently listed one of the optional items, description of dikes and other safeguard measures, as a required item in §370.42(i)(9). The latest final rule corrects this error by deleting the phrase, "a description of dikes and other safeguard measures for each location listed" from §370.42(i)(9), and re-inserting this phrase into §370.42(i)(8), which has also been re-formatted to provide greater clarity.
Ten Trends in Taxes for the Coming Year
The IRS is in the process of hiring 6,000 to 9,000 new auditors, collectors and investigators to close what the government sees as a gap between what it collects and what is due. Other trends on the horizon include new international accounting standards, higher federal taxes stemming from health care reform and climate change, and more local and state taxes to cover funding shortfalls.
OSHA Lists Top 10 Workplace Safety Violations
Scaffolding violations topped the list of the OSHA's preliminary list of the top 10 most frequent safety violations for 2009. Fall protection violations and hazard communication violations came in second and third place, respectively. OSHA noted that the number of most common violations rose 30% in 2009 from year-ago levels. The workplace violations are:
1. Scaffolding - 9,093 violations
Scaffold accidents most often result from the planking or support giving way, or from the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.
2. Fall Protection - 6,771 violations
Any time a worker is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime, and six feet in construction.
3. Hazard Communication - 6,378 violations
Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers, who in turn have responsibilities to train and provide MSDS to their employees.
4. Respiratory Protection - 3,803 violations
Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors, and sprays. Training, fit tests and medical evaluations are required.
5. Lockout-Tagout - 3,321 violations
"Lockout-Tagout" refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected start up of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.
6. Electrical (Wiring) - 3,079 violations
Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and sales people, work with electricity indirectly and may also be exposed to electrical hazards.
7. Ladders - 3,072 violations
Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for 8% of all occupational fatalities from trauma.
8. Powered Industrial Trucks - 2,993 violations
Each year, tens of thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (PIT), or forklifts, occur in U.S. workplaces. Many employees are injured when lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks, lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer, they are struck by a lift truck, or when they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.
9. Electrical (General) - 2,556 violations
Working with electricity can be dangerous. Personnel, such as office workers and sales people, work with electricity indirectly and may be exposed to electrical hazards.
10. Machine Guarding - 2,364 violations
Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injures the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.
ASABE to Revise Standards on Ag Equipment Lighting & Marking
The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has initiated projects to revise two of its most frequently cited engineering standards, ANSI/ASAE S276.6, Slow Moving Vehicle Identification Emblem (SMV Emblem) and ANSI/ASAE S279.14, Lighting and Marking of Agricultural Equipment on Highways. A possible addition to the standard is the incorporation of rotary beacons or strobe lights, and of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) on agricultural equipment. S276.6 is being revised to update the testing requirements for the backing materials of the SMV Emblem.
New Passenger Vehicle Rules
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) amended the regulations to require that motor carriers operating commercial motor vehicles designed or used to transport between nine and fifteen passengers (including the driver) in interstate commerce for direct compensation, comply with 49 CFR 390 to 393, 395, and 396, regardless of the distance traveled. This final rule makes certain safety regulations applicable to the operation of such vehicles when they are operated not only beyond, but also within, a 75 air-mile radius from the driver's normal work-reporting location.
2010 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.