International Clients
Australia
Canada
South America
×
 
Main Menu
Select A Category
About Us
Hot Topics
International Clients
Resources
Training Centers
 
Back to Main Menu
Hot Topics
Consolidation Chart
Helping Your CDL Drivers...
How To Comply (CFATS)
Prepare for a DOT Audit
PSM for Ag Retailers
Restricted CDL Report
 
Back to Main Menu
International Clients
Australia
Canada
South America
 
<
 
List
 
>
Newsletter
Volume 85
December 1, 2010
Seasons Greetings!
As we enter into the holiday season, all of us at the Asmark Institute would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year. We appreciate your business and look forward to working with you as we enter the new year!
Spotlight: Miles Farm Supply
Miles Farm Supply and the Miles family have been leaders in Kentucky agriculture since the early 1900s, and it's with respect and great admiration that we pay tribute to them as the era comes to an end. The Miles name is synonymous with hard work, honesty, vision and innovation. They have had a profound impact on the communities they serve. It has been an honor to work on behalf of the Miles organizations for more than twenty years to help them with their compliance needs. While we are saddened as the Miles era comes to an end, we congratulate Crop Production Services on their acquisition. You may not be aware, but CPS's parent company, Agrium, operated in the 60's under the name of Cominco and it was this company who first helped Miles into the fertilizer business many years ago.
Selection of Test Strips Now Available Online
Two types of test strips have been added to the Online Catalog section of our website. Test strips for Phosphorous should be used in conjunction with products like 10-34-0 and 11-37-0. Test strips for Ammonia can be used in conjunction with products like Ammonium Thiosulfate and Ammonium Sulfate. Test strips for Nitrate/Nitrite should be used for 28% and 32%. To use, dip the test strip in your water sample and compare the color reaction to the chart provided. To check out the new items, click here.
https://www.asmark.org/Products/
It's That Time Again.....Tis the Compliance Visit Season!
Mid-November traditionally kicks off the beginning of the annual compliance visit season. If you haven't already, you will soon be contacted by your Asmark Institute, EHS or State Association representative to schedule an appointment to complete these important year-end reports. Several tasks will be accomplished during the annual compliance visit, including 2010 SARA Tier II Reports, Pesticide- Production Reports, updating Emergency Plans and approximately 15 other requirements. A representative must be with you on the phone or in person while you complete these requirements. The deadline to have these completed is January 20, 2011.
RMP Audits Planned for Kentucky
Several facilities have received notice from U.S. EPA that they will be conducting Risk Management Program (RMP) Compliance Inspections in Kentucky. While there have not been any reports of these inspections being conducted yet, this serves as a good reminder to make sure you have your paperwork organized for an inspection. Documentation should be readily available onsite, including your Risk Management Plan document, Written Operating Procedures, Maintenance Manual, two most recent Hazard Review documents, two most recent Compliance Audit documents, DEGADIS Model documentation and the Program Guidance for Retail Agricultural Facilities document. If you have followed our guidance as these documents were completed, they should be found in your Compliance Manual Filing System binder under the RMP section.
CLA and RISE More Than Skeptical About EPA Cost Estimates for NPDES
EPA released a proposed information collection request (ICR) recently estimating the upcoming NPDES pesticide permit program will take over a million hours and cost more than $50 million a year to collect, report and evaluate information. While these numbers in EPA's estimate look large in aggregate and on the surface, CropLife and RISE think EPA has low-balled the real cost of NPDES permitting. The proposal serves as notice that EPA plans to submit the ICR to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval and is seeking public input. It suggests that, annually, it will take the estimated 365,000 permittees and 45 permitting authorities about 987,904 hours and 45,809 hours, and cost $50,109,969 and $1,740,754, respectively, to implement and comply with the permit. The agency is "requesting comments from very small businesses (those that employ less than 25) on examples of specific additional efforts that EPA could make to reduce the paperwork burden for very small businesses affected by this collection." Based on the comments received, EPA says it will revise the ICR as appropriate and re-submit to OMB for approval; stakeholders will also be able to submit additional comments to OMB. These estimates will be revised based on the final permit, which EPA expects to release in early 2011. The pesticide industry and user community strongly believe that the proposed ICR significantly underestimates the time and cost of implementation and compliance with the permit, and will be submitting comments to EPA suggesting a more realistic view of the actual regulatory burden. Public comments on the proposed ICR are due January 3, 2011 and details are in the November 3, 2010 Federal Register Notice.
FMSCA Makes Changes in CSA 2010
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is making some changes in the CSA 2010 program it will roll out this month. The agency announced mid-November that based on feedback from the industry and the enforcement community, it is going to address concerns about how the system evaluates carriers in the Cargo-Related safety category, which measures compliance with load securement procedures and hazardous materials requirements. It also said it will change the severity weighting in the Cargo-Related category.
FMCSA acknowledged concerns that the Cargo-Related category over-represents certain industry segments and creates a potentially misleading safety alert warning. It said it will fix the problem by adjusting the severity weights. The agency also is looking into the impact on different industry segments of a carrier's exposure in this category. Pending completion of that study, the agency will withhold carriers' performance percentiles and intervention status from the public. The data still will be available to the carrier and enforcement personnel. Another change concerns the way the agency displays data in the CSA Safety Management System. The agency will no longer use the term "deficient" to identify a score that triggers an intervention. Instead, it will say "alert." The intent is to clarify that percentiles above the intervention threshold indicate that the carrier is in line for intervention, and do not imply that safety fitness has been determined already. We strongly encourage motor carriers that have not done so already to visit the CSA 2010 website to review their safety data.
Michigan's Sen. Stabenow named Chair of US Ag Committee
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has been selected as next Chair of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee. As chair, Stabenow will be a leader in developing policies that will affect the $1.5-trillion-a-year U.S. agriculture industry, including the 2012 Farm Bill. Stabenow has served on agriculture committees in the state House, the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. She understands specialty crops, and general commodities such as corn and soybeans, and has a strong grasp on the importance of nutrition programs within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She understands the process, the players and the dynamic interests surrounding farm legislation and the importance of agriculture to our nation's economy.
The Fertilizer Institute: EPA's Florida Nutrient Rule is All Cost No Benefit
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) expressed its intense opposition to EPA's rule to establish numeric nutrient criteria for nitrogen and phosphorus for waters in the state of Florida. It's estimated the rule, which was issued by EPA's Office of Water in Washington, D.C., will cost U.S. farmers between $272 million and $1.1 billion by 2040. "This rule has an enormous cost and little benefit and we are urging EPA to reconsider this action," said TFI President Ford West. "We advocate smart and targeted policies that address water quality without placing an undue economic burden on farmers and the industries that support them. Such policies can achieve both environmental and food security goals." The federally directed nutrient rule would replace nutrient criteria already under development by Florida's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with arbitrary standards that have not been subjected to a thorough scientific peer review.
The rule is precedent setting and of national significance, as it marks the first time that EPA has attempted to displace a state's efforts to manage nutrients by establishing federal criteria. EPA has already stated that it intends to adopt a similar approach in the Gulf of Mexico drainage basin watershed. "EPA has issued a landmark water rule without establishing a science-based threshold for water quality impairment," said West. "In many cases, EPA fails to demonstrate that its nutrient standards will have a beneficial effect. Unlike standards for toxic chemicals, increasingly stringent water quality standards for nutrients may not lead to improved water quality. In fact, there is a point at which such standards could actually harm water quality because nutrients occur naturally at various levels in the environment and are essential to healthy ecosystems. By subjecting previously-approved TMDL standards to another review, EPA is fostering an environment where uncertainty may inhibit ecologically and economically beneficial projects." The EPA nutrient rule becomes effective 15 months after publication in the Federal Register. However, the expensive and time consuming site-specific alternative criteria process will take effect in 60 days.
Key Organizations Recommend EPA Suspend Web-Distributed Labeling
Thirteen organizations that have participated in the discussions and debate over the Web-Distributed Labeling (WDL) concept issued a strongly-worded letter to Bill Jordan, Senior Policy Adviser for U.S. EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, stating they "do not support EPA pursuing either voluntary or mandatory WDL, and strongly recommend that the Agency discontinue work on the user acceptance pilot project. Pesticide registrants, distributors, applicators and customers are not asking us for this information option and, in fact, many customers have told us they do not want to move to WDL."
WDL was introduced several years ago as an initiative that would require a retailer to access a government website just prior to making a commercial application, to print off the product use labels for each of the products in the tank mix. The hope was WDL would provide the end user with the most current information. EPA had previously stated their goal in WDL was the timely dissemination of information and improved reading and understanding of pesticide labels by applicators and users. The alliance of organizations that included the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and CropLife America (CLA) concluded "we do not believe that WDL will significantly enhance access to label information or demonstrably enhance the understanding of labels by the users. Moreover, there exists today several ways that stakeholders can obtain an electronic label. We do not see a need at this time for another mechanism to retrieve an electronic version of a label."
The letter included some advice indicative of recent current events, "At a time when all of us, including the Federal Government, face limits on our resources, we do not think WDL is a priority for industry, its customers and other users, and therefore should not be a priority for EPA. It is our recommendation that EPA suspend work on WDL at this time, including the recently proposed user acceptance pilot."
Nurse Tanks With Missing or Illegible ASME Data Plates: Update
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) has put industry on notice that effective immediately, no new companies can register for Special Permit (SP) 13554 through TFI's online registration process through the Nurse Tank Inspection Program (NTIP) available from their website. Due to policy procedure changes at DOT, companies wishing to participate in SP-13554, which authorizes the continued use in transportation of nurse tanks with missing or illegible ASME data plates so long as they successfully pass an external visual test, a pressure test and a thickness test, must notify DOT directly. Those who wish to participate can e-mail the request to specialpermits@dot.gov. The company name, complete mailing address, telephone, e-mail address and company contact must be provided. DOT is in the process of developing a final regulation which will incorporate the features of SP-13554 into the performance-oriented DOT regulations. Final action is expected this month.
Public Hearings on Proposed Fall Protection Revisions
OSHA will hold informal public hearings starting January 18, 2011, on the proposed rule revising the Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards to improve worker protection from slip, trip and fall hazards. "These public hearings will provide an important opportunity for stakeholders who will be impacted by the rule to share their concerns and provide input on the proposal," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. The proposed rule, described in the May 24, 2010 Federal Register, will prevent annually about 20 workplace fatalities and more than 3,700 injuries that are serious enough to result in lost work days. "Injuries and fatalities from fall hazards are a leading cause of work-related injuries and we need to have the best rule possible to ensure that we effectively address this serious hazard," said Michaels. Proposed revisions will include specific criteria for personal fall protection equipment that are consistent with industry voluntary consensus standards. Revisions will also better align OSHA's general industry walking-working surfaces standards with the Agency's construction and shipyard industry standards. Click here for a copy of the May 24th Federal Register.
Coming to a Bank Near You: Interest Bearing Checking Accounts
A little publicized provision of the financial-reform law repeals a decades-old mandate that prohibited banks from paying interest on business checking accounts. While banks won't be required to offer interest on the accounts, it could offer a competitive advantage to some, especially once rates increase again, say experts.
U.S. DOT Launches "Faces of Distracted Driving" Campaign
An online video series exploring the tragic consequences of texting and cell phone use while driving was launched by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Faces of Distracted Driving" features people from across the country who have been injured or lost loved ones in distracted driving crashes. In 2009, nearly 5,500 people died and half-a-million were injured in accidents involving a distracted driver. Click here to check it out.
U.S. House Transportation Committee Chair Changes
House Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Representative Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) were defeated in their re-election bids. Oberstar was defeated after 36 years in Congress. The new chair is expected to be Representative John Mica (R-FL). This committee will have to look at the Highway Authorization Bill and revenue funds to determine whether it should be set up as a new-miles-traveled tax or as some type of a gas tax hike. Both Oberstar and Feingold sponsored legislation over the years that would expand jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.
FedEx and UPS Announce Annual Rate Hikes
Federal Express and United Parcel Service (UPS) will increase small package and envelope shipping rates for 2011. The new rates will go into effect January 3, 2011. Both organizations announced an average rate increase of 5.9%, which will be partially offset by reducing the fuel surcharge by 1-2%. Traditionally, both organizations have adjusted their shipping rates annually at the beginning of each year, with any incremental pricing changes being applied in the form of special fuel or other type of surcharges.
EPA Expands List of Chemicals to be Screened for Endocrine Disruptors
EPA announced it will expand the number of chemicals for which it will require screening to discover whether they disrupt human and animal endocrine systems to 134. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals which interfere with the way in which humans and animals secrete hormones regulating growth, metabolism and reproduction. The new list of chemicals includes several used in pesticides, pharmaceuticals, solvents, gasoline, plastics and personal care products, EPA said. The agency approved draft policy and procedures to order testing, minimize duplicative testing, promote "equitable cost-sharing," and address issues more unique to chemicals regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the agency said. EPA is currently testing 67 pesticide chemicals based on an October 2009 order to companies to begin testing. The second group of chemicals will begin testing in 2011. Click here for more information.
Supreme Court Won't Hear Challenge to Health Care Law
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a chance to review the health care reform law before lower courts have had a chance to rule on the issue. Neither Justice Elena Kagan nor Justice Clarence Thomas recused themselves from the decision as had been expected. In her work at the Justice Department, Kagan was involved in strategy sessions about defending the health care plan, which some experts have said might disqualify her from hearing cases concerning the law. Thomas' wife, a conservative activist, has argued for repealing the law.
GOP House Could Spell the End of the 1099 Rule
President Barack Obama acknowledged the forthcoming rule requiring businesses to file 1099 forms for expenses of more than $600 could be detrimental to small businesses. The admission came after November's elections, in which Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. The requirement, which is part of the health care bill, has been heavily criticized by Republican lawmakers as well as business groups. "If it ends up just being so much trouble that small businesses find it difficult to manage, that's something that we should take a look at," Obama said.
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.
Seasons Greetings!
As we enter into the holiday season, all of us at the Asmark Institute would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year. We appreciate your business and look forward to working with you as we enter the new year!
Spotlight: Miles Farm Supply
Miles Farm Supply and the Miles family have been leaders in Kentucky agriculture since the early 1900s, and it's with respect and great admiration that we pay tribute to them as the era comes to an end. The Miles name is synonymous with hard work, honesty, vision and innovation. They have had a profound impact on the communities they serve. It has been an honor to work on behalf of the Miles organizations for more than twenty years to help them with their compliance needs. While we are saddened as the Miles era comes to an end, we congratulate Crop Production Services on their acquisition. You may not be aware, but CPS's parent company, Agrium, operated in the 60's under the name of Cominco and it was this company who first helped Miles into the fertilizer business many years ago.
Selection of Test Strips Now Available Online
Two types of test strips have been added to the Online Catalog section of our website. Test strips for Phosphorous should be used in conjunction with products like 10-34-0 and 11-37-0. Test strips for Ammonia can be used in conjunction with products like Ammonium Thiosulfate and Ammonium Sulfate. Test strips for Nitrate/Nitrite should be used for 28% and 32%. To use, dip the test strip in your water sample and compare the color reaction to the chart provided. To check out the new items, click here.
https://www.asmark.org/Products/
It's That Time Again.....Tis the Compliance Visit Season!
Mid-November traditionally kicks off the beginning of the annual compliance visit season. If you haven't already, you will soon be contacted by your Asmark Institute, EHS or State Association representative to schedule an appointment to complete these important year-end reports. Several tasks will be accomplished during the annual compliance visit, including 2010 SARA Tier II Reports, Pesticide- Production Reports, updating Emergency Plans and approximately 15 other requirements. A representative must be with you on the phone or in person while you complete these requirements. The deadline to have these completed is January 20, 2011.
RMP Audits Planned for Kentucky
Several facilities have received notice from U.S. EPA that they will be conducting Risk Management Program (RMP) Compliance Inspections in Kentucky. While there have not been any reports of these inspections being conducted yet, this serves as a good reminder to make sure you have your paperwork organized for an inspection. Documentation should be readily available onsite, including your Risk Management Plan document, Written Operating Procedures, Maintenance Manual, two most recent Hazard Review documents, two most recent Compliance Audit documents, DEGADIS Model documentation and the Program Guidance for Retail Agricultural Facilities document. If you have followed our guidance as these documents were completed, they should be found in your Compliance Manual Filing System binder under the RMP section.
CLA and RISE More Than Skeptical About EPA Cost Estimates for NPDES
EPA released a proposed information collection request (ICR) recently estimating the upcoming NPDES pesticide permit program will take over a million hours and cost more than $50 million a year to collect, report and evaluate information. While these numbers in EPA's estimate look large in aggregate and on the surface, CropLife and RISE think EPA has low-balled the real cost of NPDES permitting. The proposal serves as notice that EPA plans to submit the ICR to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval and is seeking public input. It suggests that, annually, it will take the estimated 365,000 permittees and 45 permitting authorities about 987,904 hours and 45,809 hours, and cost $50,109,969 and $1,740,754, respectively, to implement and comply with the permit. The agency is "requesting comments from very small businesses (those that employ less than 25) on examples of specific additional efforts that EPA could make to reduce the paperwork burden for very small businesses affected by this collection." Based on the comments received, EPA says it will revise the ICR as appropriate and re-submit to OMB for approval; stakeholders will also be able to submit additional comments to OMB. These estimates will be revised based on the final permit, which EPA expects to release in early 2011. The pesticide industry and user community strongly believe that the proposed ICR significantly underestimates the time and cost of implementation and compliance with the permit, and will be submitting comments to EPA suggesting a more realistic view of the actual regulatory burden. Public comments on the proposed ICR are due January 3, 2011 and details are in the November 3, 2010 Federal Register Notice.
FMSCA Makes Changes in CSA 2010
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is making some changes in the CSA 2010 program it will roll out this month. The agency announced mid-November that based on feedback from the industry and the enforcement community, it is going to address concerns about how the system evaluates carriers in the Cargo-Related safety category, which measures compliance with load securement procedures and hazardous materials requirements. It also said it will change the severity weighting in the Cargo-Related category.
FMCSA acknowledged concerns that the Cargo-Related category over-represents certain industry segments and creates a potentially misleading safety alert warning. It said it will fix the problem by adjusting the severity weights. The agency also is looking into the impact on different industry segments of a carrier's exposure in this category. Pending completion of that study, the agency will withhold carriers' performance percentiles and intervention status from the public. The data still will be available to the carrier and enforcement personnel. Another change concerns the way the agency displays data in the CSA Safety Management System. The agency will no longer use the term "deficient" to identify a score that triggers an intervention. Instead, it will say "alert." The intent is to clarify that percentiles above the intervention threshold indicate that the carrier is in line for intervention, and do not imply that safety fitness has been determined already. We strongly encourage motor carriers that have not done so already to visit the CSA 2010 website to review their safety data.
Michigan's Sen. Stabenow named Chair of US Ag Committee
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has been selected as next Chair of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee. As chair, Stabenow will be a leader in developing policies that will affect the $1.5-trillion-a-year U.S. agriculture industry, including the 2012 Farm Bill. Stabenow has served on agriculture committees in the state House, the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. She understands specialty crops, and general commodities such as corn and soybeans, and has a strong grasp on the importance of nutrition programs within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She understands the process, the players and the dynamic interests surrounding farm legislation and the importance of agriculture to our nation's economy.
The Fertilizer Institute: EPA's Florida Nutrient Rule is All Cost No Benefit
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) expressed its intense opposition to EPA's rule to establish numeric nutrient criteria for nitrogen and phosphorus for waters in the state of Florida. It's estimated the rule, which was issued by EPA's Office of Water in Washington, D.C., will cost U.S. farmers between $272 million and $1.1 billion by 2040. "This rule has an enormous cost and little benefit and we are urging EPA to reconsider this action," said TFI President Ford West. "We advocate smart and targeted policies that address water quality without placing an undue economic burden on farmers and the industries that support them. Such policies can achieve both environmental and food security goals." The federally directed nutrient rule would replace nutrient criteria already under development by Florida's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with arbitrary standards that have not been subjected to a thorough scientific peer review.
The rule is precedent setting and of national significance, as it marks the first time that EPA has attempted to displace a state's efforts to manage nutrients by establishing federal criteria. EPA has already stated that it intends to adopt a similar approach in the Gulf of Mexico drainage basin watershed. "EPA has issued a landmark water rule without establishing a science-based threshold for water quality impairment," said West. "In many cases, EPA fails to demonstrate that its nutrient standards will have a beneficial effect. Unlike standards for toxic chemicals, increasingly stringent water quality standards for nutrients may not lead to improved water quality. In fact, there is a point at which such standards could actually harm water quality because nutrients occur naturally at various levels in the environment and are essential to healthy ecosystems. By subjecting previously-approved TMDL standards to another review, EPA is fostering an environment where uncertainty may inhibit ecologically and economically beneficial projects." The EPA nutrient rule becomes effective 15 months after publication in the Federal Register. However, the expensive and time consuming site-specific alternative criteria process will take effect in 60 days.
Key Organizations Recommend EPA Suspend Web-Distributed Labeling
Thirteen organizations that have participated in the discussions and debate over the Web-Distributed Labeling (WDL) concept issued a strongly-worded letter to Bill Jordan, Senior Policy Adviser for U.S. EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, stating they "do not support EPA pursuing either voluntary or mandatory WDL, and strongly recommend that the Agency discontinue work on the user acceptance pilot project. Pesticide registrants, distributors, applicators and customers are not asking us for this information option and, in fact, many customers have told us they do not want to move to WDL."
WDL was introduced several years ago as an initiative that would require a retailer to access a government website just prior to making a commercial application, to print off the product use labels for each of the products in the tank mix. The hope was WDL would provide the end user with the most current information. EPA had previously stated their goal in WDL was the timely dissemination of information and improved reading and understanding of pesticide labels by applicators and users. The alliance of organizations that included the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and CropLife America (CLA) concluded "we do not believe that WDL will significantly enhance access to label information or demonstrably enhance the understanding of labels by the users. Moreover, there exists today several ways that stakeholders can obtain an electronic label. We do not see a need at this time for another mechanism to retrieve an electronic version of a label."
The letter included some advice indicative of recent current events, "At a time when all of us, including the Federal Government, face limits on our resources, we do not think WDL is a priority for industry, its customers and other users, and therefore should not be a priority for EPA. It is our recommendation that EPA suspend work on WDL at this time, including the recently proposed user acceptance pilot."
Nurse Tanks With Missing or Illegible ASME Data Plates: Update
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) has put industry on notice that effective immediately, no new companies can register for Special Permit (SP) 13554 through TFI's online registration process through the Nurse Tank Inspection Program (NTIP) available from their website. Due to policy procedure changes at DOT, companies wishing to participate in SP-13554, which authorizes the continued use in transportation of nurse tanks with missing or illegible ASME data plates so long as they successfully pass an external visual test, a pressure test and a thickness test, must notify DOT directly. Those who wish to participate can e-mail the request to specialpermits@dot.gov. The company name, complete mailing address, telephone, e-mail address and company contact must be provided. DOT is in the process of developing a final regulation which will incorporate the features of SP-13554 into the performance-oriented DOT regulations. Final action is expected this month.
Public Hearings on Proposed Fall Protection Revisions
OSHA will hold informal public hearings starting January 18, 2011, on the proposed rule revising the Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards to improve worker protection from slip, trip and fall hazards. "These public hearings will provide an important opportunity for stakeholders who will be impacted by the rule to share their concerns and provide input on the proposal," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. The proposed rule, described in the May 24, 2010 Federal Register, will prevent annually about 20 workplace fatalities and more than 3,700 injuries that are serious enough to result in lost work days. "Injuries and fatalities from fall hazards are a leading cause of work-related injuries and we need to have the best rule possible to ensure that we effectively address this serious hazard," said Michaels. Proposed revisions will include specific criteria for personal fall protection equipment that are consistent with industry voluntary consensus standards. Revisions will also better align OSHA's general industry walking-working surfaces standards with the Agency's construction and shipyard industry standards. Click here for a copy of the May 24th Federal Register.
Coming to a Bank Near You: Interest Bearing Checking Accounts
A little publicized provision of the financial-reform law repeals a decades-old mandate that prohibited banks from paying interest on business checking accounts. While banks won't be required to offer interest on the accounts, it could offer a competitive advantage to some, especially once rates increase again, say experts.
U.S. DOT Launches "Faces of Distracted Driving" Campaign
An online video series exploring the tragic consequences of texting and cell phone use while driving was launched by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Faces of Distracted Driving" features people from across the country who have been injured or lost loved ones in distracted driving crashes. In 2009, nearly 5,500 people died and half-a-million were injured in accidents involving a distracted driver. Click here to check it out.
U.S. House Transportation Committee Chair Changes
House Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Representative Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) were defeated in their re-election bids. Oberstar was defeated after 36 years in Congress. The new chair is expected to be Representative John Mica (R-FL). This committee will have to look at the Highway Authorization Bill and revenue funds to determine whether it should be set up as a new-miles-traveled tax or as some type of a gas tax hike. Both Oberstar and Feingold sponsored legislation over the years that would expand jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.
FedEx and UPS Announce Annual Rate Hikes
Federal Express and United Parcel Service (UPS) will increase small package and envelope shipping rates for 2011. The new rates will go into effect January 3, 2011. Both organizations announced an average rate increase of 5.9%, which will be partially offset by reducing the fuel surcharge by 1-2%. Traditionally, both organizations have adjusted their shipping rates annually at the beginning of each year, with any incremental pricing changes being applied in the form of special fuel or other type of surcharges.
EPA Expands List of Chemicals to be Screened for Endocrine Disruptors
EPA announced it will expand the number of chemicals for which it will require screening to discover whether they disrupt human and animal endocrine systems to 134. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals which interfere with the way in which humans and animals secrete hormones regulating growth, metabolism and reproduction. The new list of chemicals includes several used in pesticides, pharmaceuticals, solvents, gasoline, plastics and personal care products, EPA said. The agency approved draft policy and procedures to order testing, minimize duplicative testing, promote "equitable cost-sharing," and address issues more unique to chemicals regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the agency said. EPA is currently testing 67 pesticide chemicals based on an October 2009 order to companies to begin testing. The second group of chemicals will begin testing in 2011. Click here for more information.
Supreme Court Won't Hear Challenge to Health Care Law
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a chance to review the health care reform law before lower courts have had a chance to rule on the issue. Neither Justice Elena Kagan nor Justice Clarence Thomas recused themselves from the decision as had been expected. In her work at the Justice Department, Kagan was involved in strategy sessions about defending the health care plan, which some experts have said might disqualify her from hearing cases concerning the law. Thomas' wife, a conservative activist, has argued for repealing the law.
GOP House Could Spell the End of the 1099 Rule
President Barack Obama acknowledged the forthcoming rule requiring businesses to file 1099 forms for expenses of more than $600 could be detrimental to small businesses. The admission came after November's elections, in which Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. The requirement, which is part of the health care bill, has been heavily criticized by Republican lawmakers as well as business groups. "If it ends up just being so much trouble that small businesses find it difficult to manage, that's something that we should take a look at," Obama said.
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.