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Newsletter
Volume 98
January 3, 2012
Best Wishes for a Safe, Healthy & Prosperous New Year!
One of the real joys of ringing in a New Year is the opportunity to say "Thank You" and to wish you the very best for a safe, healthy and prosperous 2012! We appreciate our relationship and the opportunity to work with you in 2012!
Consolidation Chart Project Creates an Industry First
Engage in any conversation and sooner or later the subject of consolidation comes up. Spanning the years, many of the top retailers have consolidated with other companies to solidify their ongoing growth and influence within the ag industry.Industry First For as popular a subject as consolidation is, historical information is almost non-existent. Thanks to Joann McCarty and Donna Powell, both with the Asmark Institute, the industry now has a Consolidation Chart that visually portrays its heritage. Work began on this project by compiling CropLife™ magazine's list of Top 100 ag chemical and fertilizer dealers spanning the period from 1984 to 2011. In addition to the information provided by CropLife™, literally hundreds of hours of research and interviews with industry professionals were used to create the final Consolidation Chart. Click here to view this remarkable heritage of retail organizations.
While many of the companies shown on the chart have maintained their ranking over the last 28 years on the Top 100, others have appeared briefly. This Consolidation Chart represents only the beginning as we will continue to follow the companies and publish an annual update based on CropLife™ magazine's Top 100.
Clients in the News: Congratulations!
The ARA Distinguished Service Award honors an individual member of the association who has gone above and beyond the traditional responsibility to support the ag retail industry and the association, making the industry better for all. At their recent annual Conference, ARA presented this year's Distinguished Service Award to Dan Weber, Vice President of Agronomy with Ceres Solutions. Dan Weber is a past ARA Chairman and Board Member. Dan is known for his enthusiasm to help address legislative and regulatory challenges facing agricultural retailers, as was evident when he testified at multiple Congressional committee hearings on behalf of the industry in Washington. Weber and his co-workers at Ceres Solutions have also held educational tours for USDA and EPA officials to help them gain a better understanding of the agricultural retail industry.
ARA will begin 2012 with Billy Pirkle, Senior Director of Environmental, Health and Safety for Crop Production Services, as their new chairman. Billy is very active in the agricultural industry and currently serves on two Boards of Directors in addition to ARA. He is a Director on the Board for the National Agronomic Environmental, Health & Safety School, as well as the Asmark Institute.
Secret Decoder Ring Not RequiredQR code
If you've flipped through a magazine or opened your mail lately, you've probably seen a symbol that looks a bit like hieroglyphics. The funky little barcodes are called Quick Response codes, or QR codes for short, and provide a direct path to time-saving information that could prove beneficial. QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that, when scanned using a cellular phone, direct the user to a number of different destinations. Marketers use these QR codes to offer exclusive coupon deals, provide additional product information, show videos or enter a consumer into a promotion or contest.
To access a QR code, most users will need to download one of many free mobile QR reader applications for their Smartphone. When the application is launched, the screen on your phone will look much like a camera. Simply hover the phone over the code. You usually don't even need to press a button - it kind of latches on to it and then immediately takes your phone wherever that code has been programmed to take you. Asmark Institute will use this technology to help connect our client directly to the information they need. As an example, the QR code above will take the person trying to complete their DOT Vehicle Maintenance File directly to a set of detailed instructions. Try it for yourself!
Plans Announced for Bloomington, IL Training Complex
This week the Asmark Institute will publicly announce plans to construct a new training complex in Bloomington, IL to host the Ammonia Technician Course and a series of new courses designed for grain facilities. Bloomington, IL is centrally-located within the United States and offers several advantages, especially to the agricultural industry. The 26,000 square foot complex is expected to host a wide variety of meetings with its unique design and capability to accommodate equipment used for scenarios and specialized hands-on training. The Bloomington complex will also serve as the central dispatch point for the Professional Applicator Training course.
Asmark Institute is proud to partner with the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) and the Grain & Feed Association of Illinois (GFAI) on the Bloomington training complex. IFCA anticipates relocating its offices to the new complex and share the 7,200 square feet of general office space with 1-2 other agricultural-based organizations.
"The Grain and Feed Association of Illinois is excited to partner with the Asmark Institute in developing a facility with hands-on safety training for the grain handling industry," according to Jeffrey D. Adkisson, Executive Vice President of GFAI. "Having well-trained employees, especially in the area of safety, has been a focus of the Association as well as the Asmark Institute for years. We see this as the next step in training our grain handling workers to recognize hazards and learning how to prevent or eliminate them."
"The level of skill and training demonstrated by pesticide and nutrient applicators is often a determining factor in the overall prosperity of the ag retailer's business," said Jean Payne, President of IFCA. "A major element of IFCA's mission statement is to promote the sound stewardship and utilization of agricultural inputs. IFCA's partnership with the Asmark Institute to bring this technologically advanced, hands-on training center to Central Illinois is a major step forward for our industry, for farmers who rely on expert applicators, and for the safety of the public and communities that expect a high level of professionalism, safety and stewardship from our industry."
"The essential elements critical to the future success of our industry are collaboration, technology and training," said Allen Summers, President of the Asmark Institute. "This partnership with IFCA and GFAI encompasses the sharing of talent, time and resources and leverages the positive effects of all who share in the goal of protecting life, property and the environment," added Summers.
Plans are for the office space to be ready for occupancy in March 2012, with the training complex being finished in time for the National Environmental, Health & Safety School in August.
Options for Compensating for the Postal System
With the Postal system in a current state of flux, clients are left to make sure everything they trust the mail with such as payments, regulatory reports, training and driver file paperwork arrives prior to the deadline or due date. Accomplishing this has become trickier than ever before. Options and tips to make sure everything is received in good time include:
  • Drop it in the mail earlier - allow about 1/3 more time than before.
  • Take extra precautions to prepare the envelope properly - any issue with the envelope that prevents automated processing can delay delivery by weeks - not days.
  • Use BackTrack instead of the Postal service - Asmark Institute uses the late fees collected from monthly training to subsidize the BackTrack rates, plus it is backed by UPS's incredible tracking. BackTrack rates apply to certain time-sensitive documents being returned to Asmark Institute.
Check out the rates for BackTrack by clicking here.
OSHA Fines Grain Company $95,920
OSHA has issued a LaBolt, South Dakota grain company 13 citations for exposing workers to unsafe conditions at its grain handling facility, where a worker was caught in a moving bin sweep auger and suffered severe injuries to his leg and arm. Proposed penalties total $95,920. "Despite awareness of the hazardous nature of grain bin entries and of the means and methods to prevent such hazards, the employer failed to develop and enforce recognized safe work practices," said Tom Deutscher, OSHA's area director in Bismarck. OSHA issued LaBolt four willful, six repeat and three serious citations. The willful citations address the alleged failure of the employer to develop and implement a written confined space program, ensure all equipment that presents a danger is neutralized, complete confined space and grain bin entry permits, and provide a competent person as an entrance observer. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. The six repeat citations address the alleged failure to effectively guard floor openings, pulleys and vertical belts; control fugitive grain dust accumulations; develop a written housekeeping program; and utilize approved electrical equipment. A repeat violation is when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited in February 2008. The alleged serious violations address the failure to provide effective training for workers entering confined spaces and grain bins, provide training for employees assigned special tasks and perform atmospheric testing. A serious violation is when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. OSHA has fined grain operators in Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio and Nebraska following preventable fatalities and injuries.
American Welding & Tank Back in the News
Nurse tanks manufactured between June 2009 and September 2010 by American Welding & Tank, have reportedly experienced some pinhole weld defects. American Welding & Tank is currently working with DOT to address the issue and has asked the industry to distribute the attached information on inspection of these nurse tanks and the extended warranty being offered. Click here for the information and update on their inspections and warranty.
Handheld Mobile Phone Ban Starts January 3, 2012
If you operate a commercial vehicle that is 10,001 pounds GVWR or more in interstate commerce, you cannot use a handheld cellular telephone while driving, according to DOT. The regulation applies to commercial motor vehicle drivers, both CDL and non-CDL, who are engaged in interstate commerce as well as intrastate haulers of placarded hazardous materials such as anhydrous ammonia. The final rule becomes effective January 3, 2012. "Handheld" means any phone requiring at least one hand to hold to conduct a voice communication, having to press more than one button to complete a call, or that requires reaching beyond a seated position with seatbelt on to access the phone. Phones in a holder that require only one button to activate are Okay. Phones that are completely hands free are Okay. CB radios are Okay. Phones that are voice-activated (and not handheld) are Okay.
NDDA Assumes Anhydrous Ammonia Inspections
Responsibility for inspecting anhydrous ammonia tanks and facilities moves to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) in 2012. "Until now, the Agriculture Department has been responsible for enforcing state laws and regulations regarding anhydrous ammonia and licensing facilities, while the Insurance Department has conducted the inspections," said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. "The 2011 Legislature transferred the inspection duties to NDDA to improve government efficiency." Any dealer, applicator or user with storage for 6,000 gallons or more of anhydrous ammonia must obtain a license from NDDA. All licensed facilities are inspected every five years, and inspectors have the authority to inspect related equipment, such as nurse tanks, hoses and transport equipment. North Dakota currently has 337 licensed facilities.
NDDA Moves to Automate Ammonia Inspections
Kelly Registration Systems (KRS) announced recently they received a contract with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) to automate the state's regulatory work in the inspection of anhydrous ammonia storage tanks and facilities. The Kelly State Inspection and Investigation System (KSIIS) will be modified to meet specific state requirements for investigation and enforcement. The application will include such features as identifying inspection reports for an unlimited number of tanks at a specific location or under a specific licensee, printing all licensees and past inspection dates, using UPCs and product names to conduct business inspections, printing stop-sales notices and producing administrative reports related to inspection activities and statistics, as required by the state. The KSIIS contract will add the anhydrous ammonia program of the NDDA to the growing list of state department programs and divisions that are looking to electronic solutions with increased automation to support their regulatory work.
IEMA Reminds Illinois Facilities of MSDS Requirement
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) continues to work towards the goal of providing up-to-date and complete electronic chemical emergency planning and response information to Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) and fire departments. Just under half of Illinois LEPCs, and many fire departments, have obtained access to IEMA's Tier 2 Manager On-Line Filing System. IEMA is reminding ALL active Tier 2 facilities of the new requirement to attach an electronic Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to each current (2011) Tier 2 chemical listed in Tier 2 Manager. If a MSDS was uploaded previously, then steps must be taken to ensure it is the most current, up-to-date version. MSDS information in Tier 2 Manager will allow LEPCs and fire departments to have instant access to pertinent chemical information. For Illinois Tier 2 reporting assistance, please contact IEMA Tier 2 Specialists at 217-558-0559 or by E-mail at ema.tier2mgr@illinois.gov.
Note: IEMA is requiring each person that submits a 2011 Tier 2 report to attach a copy of the most current copy of the MSDS for each product reported. While the Asmark Institute can't do this for you, we can make the task easier. Current MSDS in PDF format can be accessed via the Environmental, Health & Safety Info section of our website to help with your download and submittal to IEMA. Reminder: A current site plan for your facility can be accessed via the Snapshots Management section of our website.
New Hours of Service Rules Issued
DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a final rule on the new hours of service regulations for commercial drivers. Highlights of the new rule by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) include:
  • The current 11-hour daily driving limit has been retained.
  • A driver's work week is now limited to 70 hours.
  • Drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes.
  • Companies and drivers that commit egregious violations of the rule could face the maximum penalties for each offense. Trucking companies that allow drivers to exceed the 11-hour driving limit by three or more hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.
Click here to access a complete copy of the final rule.
NRCS Promises More Help, Flexibility With Nutrient-Management Programs
The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to put more technical staff in the field to help farmers implement voluntary conservation practices that reduce nutrient runoff and protect the environment. The agency also plans to be more flexible with states in providing site-specific nutrient-management planning and using local information when working with farmers. The changes came after the NRCS revised its national conservation practice standard on nutrient management for the first time since 2006. The process took about 18 months as the NRCS gathered input from federal agencies, land-grant universities, consultants, stakeholders in agriculture and other interest groups. NRCS Chief Dave White says farming technology has continued to evolve in the last several years, and the NRCS will be increasing its focus on encouraging farmers to adopt the "four Rs" concept pushed by The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), emphasizing proper timing, location, rate and source for fertilizer applications. The NRCS will also be expanding the use of technical service providers on the local level. Certified crop advisors "could be extremely engaged" in those efforts, White says, with webinars and training planned next year for outside consultants wanting to participate. The Fertilizer Institute, which provided input to the NRCS for the past year on the standard revisions, supports the changes. "Agriculture is being asked to maintain profitable farm economics, while meeting the increased product demands of a growing population and also responding to increased scrutiny of land and resource management, and the 4Rs are key to addressing challenge," TFI President Ford West said in a written statement.
Nelson, Moran Lead Efforts to Withdraw Rules on Young Farm Workers
Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson and Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas stood up for rural communities by asking the U.S. Department of Labor to withdraw a proposed rule that could change the structure of family farms and have a negative impact on the education of the next generation of farmers. On September 2nd, the agency announced proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which could, among other provisions, prohibit teens and children younger than 16 from working on a farm or ranch that is not directly owned by their parents.
Nelson and Moran sent a letter to Secretary Hilda Solis that read, "As a result of the many deficiencies of the proposed rule outlined in this letter, we request the Department withdraw the proposed rule immediately." The letter, which was signed by 30 U.S. Senators, raised a number of specific issues.
The letter is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council, the National FFA Organization, the American Horse Council, the National Milk Producers Federation, Dairy Farmers of America, the National Association of Agricultural Educators and the National Corn Growers Association.
"We would like to emphasize the Department was under no obligation to propose new regulations. Congress has not amended the Fair Labor Standards Act in regard to the agricultural standards referenced in the proposed rule since 1977. It is puzzling why the Department would suddenly propose changes to existing regulations, particularly considering the advancements in farm equipment and adoption of technologies that have improved operator safety in the last 35 years," according to the letter.
New OSHA Tire Charts Required
If your employees service single-piece and multi-piece rim wheels, then your tire charts need to be updated. OSHA has revised its tire servicing materials to address current hazards in the industry and help workers safely perform maintenance on large vehicle tires. The materials address OSHA's Materials Handling and Storage standard that protects workers who service single-piece and multi-piece rim wheels. Following recent talks with representatives from tire, rubber and wheel manufacturers, OSHA determined a need for new materials with updates from sources such as the Tire Industry Association. The updated information, available in a portable manual or as three poster-sized charts, is easier to access and use. OSHA's revised "Multi-piece Rim Matching Chart" provides an updated list of current and obsolete components and the old "Demounting and Mounting Procedures for Truck/Bus Tires" chart is now expanded into two charts that deal individually with tubeless and tube-type tires. The revised materials (posters: OSHA 3401, 3402, 3403 and manual: OSHA 3421) can be downloaded from OSHA by clicking here.
OSHA Updates Enforcement Guidance on PPE
OSHA recently released an updated compliance directive, CPL 02-01-050 Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry, which instructs enforcement personnel on both the agency's interpretations of PPE standards and the procedures for enforcing them. Prompted by numerous revisions to the PPE standards, including a final rule for employer payment for personal protective equipment and a final rule to revise the PPE standards based on National Consensus standards, this updated instruction makes the following changes effective February 10, 2012:
  • Clarification on what type of PPE employers must provide at no cost, when employers must pay for PPE, or for replacement PPE, and when employers are not required to pay for PPE.
  • Clarification of the PPE payment requirements for PPE worn off the jobsite, for PPE that must remain at the jobsite, and for employee-owned PPE.
  • Enforcement policies that reflect court and review commission decisions concerning PPE.
  • Guidance that allows employers to use PPE constructed in accordance with the most recent national consensus standards.
J.J. Keller & Associates Advice to Motor Carriers: Monitoring Medical Card Expiration Dates is More Important Than Ever!
This article is made possible by J.J. Keller & Associates, a valued partner of the Asmark Institute for over 23 years. Our thanks to J.J. Keller for their support over the years and for the use of this article.
With the recent delay of portions of the Commercial Driver's License (CDL)/Medical Card Merger Rule, some may have mistakenly believed the motor carrier's role was just made easier over the next couple of years. This is not the case.
The recent rulemaking pushed back the date when motor carriers must request their CDL holders' driving records showing their medical status, instead of collecting a copy of the medical examiner's certificates (aka medical card or physical card). This has been delayed two years.
But the role of the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has not been delayed. Many are starting to collect information on existing and new CDL holders and entering their medical status and medical expiration dates into the CDL database. This process is called "self-certifying."
All new CDL holders in the state must self-certify upon application beginning January 30, 2012. All other CDL holders' medical statuses will be in the system, including existing CDL drivers, no later than January 30, 2014.
Why should this matter?
Until recently, operating a commercial motor vehicle with an expired medical card resulted in a violation of your Driver's Qualification (DQ) file recordkeeping in the event of an audit. This same violation if discovered during a roadside inspection, would place the driver out-of-service, and the event would be scored in the Driver Fitness BASIC using the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Methodology.
Under the new rule, an interstate driver who has not self-certified, will lose CDL driving privileges. And, going forward, using a CDL holder who has not self-certified will result in both a CDL licensing and driver qualification violation during audits and roadside inspections. Both violations appear in the Driver Fitness BASIC.
What can you do now?
Motor carriers must actively monitor when the states represented in their organization are sending out letters to existing CDL holders. They will need to know if their CDL drivers have self-certified with the state initially and every time his or her card expires. To do otherwise, might result in using a driver with an inactive CDL.
States are not required to contact employers when a driver loses his or her CDL privileges, so the motor carrier must put in place a system of checks and balances to ensure the driver has submitted his or her medical card. A tickler file could be assembled or you could create an in-house spreadsheet or simply create a list of driver names and medical card expiration dates. Drivers should be reminded well in advance of the expiration date to allow for the scheduling of medical exams and the state DMV's processing time, when they receive the self-certification.
If your CDL driver does any of the following, he or she may have a "not certified" medical qualification status:
  • Neglects to initially self-certify when the state begins the process.
  • Fails to renew his or her medical card.
  • Does not turn in his or her medical card or turns it in late.
This "not certified" status, if not corrected within 10 days of the expiration date, results in the loss of his or her CDL privilege in interstate commerce. This would appear on the motor vehicle report within 60 days.
2012 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.
Best Wishes for a Safe, Healthy & Prosperous New Year!
One of the real joys of ringing in a New Year is the opportunity to say "Thank You" and to wish you the very best for a safe, healthy and prosperous 2012! We appreciate our relationship and the opportunity to work with you in 2012!
Consolidation Chart Project Creates an Industry First
Engage in any conversation and sooner or later the subject of consolidation comes up. Spanning the years, many of the top retailers have consolidated with other companies to solidify their ongoing growth and influence within the ag industry.Industry First For as popular a subject as consolidation is, historical information is almost non-existent. Thanks to Joann McCarty and Donna Powell, both with the Asmark Institute, the industry now has a Consolidation Chart that visually portrays its heritage. Work began on this project by compiling CropLife™ magazine's list of Top 100 ag chemical and fertilizer dealers spanning the period from 1984 to 2011. In addition to the information provided by CropLife™, literally hundreds of hours of research and interviews with industry professionals were used to create the final Consolidation Chart. Click here to view this remarkable heritage of retail organizations.
While many of the companies shown on the chart have maintained their ranking over the last 28 years on the Top 100, others have appeared briefly. This Consolidation Chart represents only the beginning as we will continue to follow the companies and publish an annual update based on CropLife™ magazine's Top 100.
Clients in the News: Congratulations!
The ARA Distinguished Service Award honors an individual member of the association who has gone above and beyond the traditional responsibility to support the ag retail industry and the association, making the industry better for all. At their recent annual Conference, ARA presented this year's Distinguished Service Award to Dan Weber, Vice President of Agronomy with Ceres Solutions. Dan Weber is a past ARA Chairman and Board Member. Dan is known for his enthusiasm to help address legislative and regulatory challenges facing agricultural retailers, as was evident when he testified at multiple Congressional committee hearings on behalf of the industry in Washington. Weber and his co-workers at Ceres Solutions have also held educational tours for USDA and EPA officials to help them gain a better understanding of the agricultural retail industry.
ARA will begin 2012 with Billy Pirkle, Senior Director of Environmental, Health and Safety for Crop Production Services, as their new chairman. Billy is very active in the agricultural industry and currently serves on two Boards of Directors in addition to ARA. He is a Director on the Board for the National Agronomic Environmental, Health & Safety School, as well as the Asmark Institute.
Secret Decoder Ring Not RequiredQR code
If you've flipped through a magazine or opened your mail lately, you've probably seen a symbol that looks a bit like hieroglyphics. The funky little barcodes are called Quick Response codes, or QR codes for short, and provide a direct path to time-saving information that could prove beneficial. QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that, when scanned using a cellular phone, direct the user to a number of different destinations. Marketers use these QR codes to offer exclusive coupon deals, provide additional product information, show videos or enter a consumer into a promotion or contest.
To access a QR code, most users will need to download one of many free mobile QR reader applications for their Smartphone. When the application is launched, the screen on your phone will look much like a camera. Simply hover the phone over the code. You usually don't even need to press a button - it kind of latches on to it and then immediately takes your phone wherever that code has been programmed to take you. Asmark Institute will use this technology to help connect our client directly to the information they need. As an example, the QR code above will take the person trying to complete their DOT Vehicle Maintenance File directly to a set of detailed instructions. Try it for yourself!
Plans Announced for Bloomington, IL Training Complex
This week the Asmark Institute will publicly announce plans to construct a new training complex in Bloomington, IL to host the Ammonia Technician Course and a series of new courses designed for grain facilities. Bloomington, IL is centrally-located within the United States and offers several advantages, especially to the agricultural industry. The 26,000 square foot complex is expected to host a wide variety of meetings with its unique design and capability to accommodate equipment used for scenarios and specialized hands-on training. The Bloomington complex will also serve as the central dispatch point for the Professional Applicator Training course.
Asmark Institute is proud to partner with the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) and the Grain & Feed Association of Illinois (GFAI) on the Bloomington training complex. IFCA anticipates relocating its offices to the new complex and share the 7,200 square feet of general office space with 1-2 other agricultural-based organizations.
"The Grain and Feed Association of Illinois is excited to partner with the Asmark Institute in developing a facility with hands-on safety training for the grain handling industry," according to Jeffrey D. Adkisson, Executive Vice President of GFAI. "Having well-trained employees, especially in the area of safety, has been a focus of the Association as well as the Asmark Institute for years. We see this as the next step in training our grain handling workers to recognize hazards and learning how to prevent or eliminate them."
"The level of skill and training demonstrated by pesticide and nutrient applicators is often a determining factor in the overall prosperity of the ag retailer's business," said Jean Payne, President of IFCA. "A major element of IFCA's mission statement is to promote the sound stewardship and utilization of agricultural inputs. IFCA's partnership with the Asmark Institute to bring this technologically advanced, hands-on training center to Central Illinois is a major step forward for our industry, for farmers who rely on expert applicators, and for the safety of the public and communities that expect a high level of professionalism, safety and stewardship from our industry."
"The essential elements critical to the future success of our industry are collaboration, technology and training," said Allen Summers, President of the Asmark Institute. "This partnership with IFCA and GFAI encompasses the sharing of talent, time and resources and leverages the positive effects of all who share in the goal of protecting life, property and the environment," added Summers.
Plans are for the office space to be ready for occupancy in March 2012, with the training complex being finished in time for the National Environmental, Health & Safety School in August.
Options for Compensating for the Postal System
With the Postal system in a current state of flux, clients are left to make sure everything they trust the mail with such as payments, regulatory reports, training and driver file paperwork arrives prior to the deadline or due date. Accomplishing this has become trickier than ever before. Options and tips to make sure everything is received in good time include:
  • Drop it in the mail earlier - allow about 1/3 more time than before.
  • Take extra precautions to prepare the envelope properly - any issue with the envelope that prevents automated processing can delay delivery by weeks - not days.
  • Use BackTrack instead of the Postal service - Asmark Institute uses the late fees collected from monthly training to subsidize the BackTrack rates, plus it is backed by UPS's incredible tracking. BackTrack rates apply to certain time-sensitive documents being returned to Asmark Institute.
Check out the rates for BackTrack by clicking here.
OSHA Fines Grain Company $95,920
OSHA has issued a LaBolt, South Dakota grain company 13 citations for exposing workers to unsafe conditions at its grain handling facility, where a worker was caught in a moving bin sweep auger and suffered severe injuries to his leg and arm. Proposed penalties total $95,920. "Despite awareness of the hazardous nature of grain bin entries and of the means and methods to prevent such hazards, the employer failed to develop and enforce recognized safe work practices," said Tom Deutscher, OSHA's area director in Bismarck. OSHA issued LaBolt four willful, six repeat and three serious citations. The willful citations address the alleged failure of the employer to develop and implement a written confined space program, ensure all equipment that presents a danger is neutralized, complete confined space and grain bin entry permits, and provide a competent person as an entrance observer. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. The six repeat citations address the alleged failure to effectively guard floor openings, pulleys and vertical belts; control fugitive grain dust accumulations; develop a written housekeeping program; and utilize approved electrical equipment. A repeat violation is when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited in February 2008. The alleged serious violations address the failure to provide effective training for workers entering confined spaces and grain bins, provide training for employees assigned special tasks and perform atmospheric testing. A serious violation is when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. OSHA has fined grain operators in Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio and Nebraska following preventable fatalities and injuries.
American Welding & Tank Back in the News
Nurse tanks manufactured between June 2009 and September 2010 by American Welding & Tank, have reportedly experienced some pinhole weld defects. American Welding & Tank is currently working with DOT to address the issue and has asked the industry to distribute the attached information on inspection of these nurse tanks and the extended warranty being offered. Click here for the information and update on their inspections and warranty.
Handheld Mobile Phone Ban Starts January 3, 2012
If you operate a commercial vehicle that is 10,001 pounds GVWR or more in interstate commerce, you cannot use a handheld cellular telephone while driving, according to DOT. The regulation applies to commercial motor vehicle drivers, both CDL and non-CDL, who are engaged in interstate commerce as well as intrastate haulers of placarded hazardous materials such as anhydrous ammonia. The final rule becomes effective January 3, 2012. "Handheld" means any phone requiring at least one hand to hold to conduct a voice communication, having to press more than one button to complete a call, or that requires reaching beyond a seated position with seatbelt on to access the phone. Phones in a holder that require only one button to activate are Okay. Phones that are completely hands free are Okay. CB radios are Okay. Phones that are voice-activated (and not handheld) are Okay.
NDDA Assumes Anhydrous Ammonia Inspections
Responsibility for inspecting anhydrous ammonia tanks and facilities moves to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) in 2012. "Until now, the Agriculture Department has been responsible for enforcing state laws and regulations regarding anhydrous ammonia and licensing facilities, while the Insurance Department has conducted the inspections," said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. "The 2011 Legislature transferred the inspection duties to NDDA to improve government efficiency." Any dealer, applicator or user with storage for 6,000 gallons or more of anhydrous ammonia must obtain a license from NDDA. All licensed facilities are inspected every five years, and inspectors have the authority to inspect related equipment, such as nurse tanks, hoses and transport equipment. North Dakota currently has 337 licensed facilities.
NDDA Moves to Automate Ammonia Inspections
Kelly Registration Systems (KRS) announced recently they received a contract with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) to automate the state's regulatory work in the inspection of anhydrous ammonia storage tanks and facilities. The Kelly State Inspection and Investigation System (KSIIS) will be modified to meet specific state requirements for investigation and enforcement. The application will include such features as identifying inspection reports for an unlimited number of tanks at a specific location or under a specific licensee, printing all licensees and past inspection dates, using UPCs and product names to conduct business inspections, printing stop-sales notices and producing administrative reports related to inspection activities and statistics, as required by the state. The KSIIS contract will add the anhydrous ammonia program of the NDDA to the growing list of state department programs and divisions that are looking to electronic solutions with increased automation to support their regulatory work.
IEMA Reminds Illinois Facilities of MSDS Requirement
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) continues to work towards the goal of providing up-to-date and complete electronic chemical emergency planning and response information to Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) and fire departments. Just under half of Illinois LEPCs, and many fire departments, have obtained access to IEMA's Tier 2 Manager On-Line Filing System. IEMA is reminding ALL active Tier 2 facilities of the new requirement to attach an electronic Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to each current (2011) Tier 2 chemical listed in Tier 2 Manager. If a MSDS was uploaded previously, then steps must be taken to ensure it is the most current, up-to-date version. MSDS information in Tier 2 Manager will allow LEPCs and fire departments to have instant access to pertinent chemical information. For Illinois Tier 2 reporting assistance, please contact IEMA Tier 2 Specialists at 217-558-0559 or by E-mail at ema.tier2mgr@illinois.gov.
Note: IEMA is requiring each person that submits a 2011 Tier 2 report to attach a copy of the most current copy of the MSDS for each product reported. While the Asmark Institute can't do this for you, we can make the task easier. Current MSDS in PDF format can be accessed via the Environmental, Health & Safety Info section of our website to help with your download and submittal to IEMA. Reminder: A current site plan for your facility can be accessed via the Snapshots Management section of our website.
New Hours of Service Rules Issued
DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a final rule on the new hours of service regulations for commercial drivers. Highlights of the new rule by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) include:
  • The current 11-hour daily driving limit has been retained.
  • A driver's work week is now limited to 70 hours.
  • Drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes.
  • Companies and drivers that commit egregious violations of the rule could face the maximum penalties for each offense. Trucking companies that allow drivers to exceed the 11-hour driving limit by three or more hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.
Click here to access a complete copy of the final rule.
NRCS Promises More Help, Flexibility With Nutrient-Management Programs
The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to put more technical staff in the field to help farmers implement voluntary conservation practices that reduce nutrient runoff and protect the environment. The agency also plans to be more flexible with states in providing site-specific nutrient-management planning and using local information when working with farmers. The changes came after the NRCS revised its national conservation practice standard on nutrient management for the first time since 2006. The process took about 18 months as the NRCS gathered input from federal agencies, land-grant universities, consultants, stakeholders in agriculture and other interest groups. NRCS Chief Dave White says farming technology has continued to evolve in the last several years, and the NRCS will be increasing its focus on encouraging farmers to adopt the "four Rs" concept pushed by The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), emphasizing proper timing, location, rate and source for fertilizer applications. The NRCS will also be expanding the use of technical service providers on the local level. Certified crop advisors "could be extremely engaged" in those efforts, White says, with webinars and training planned next year for outside consultants wanting to participate. The Fertilizer Institute, which provided input to the NRCS for the past year on the standard revisions, supports the changes. "Agriculture is being asked to maintain profitable farm economics, while meeting the increased product demands of a growing population and also responding to increased scrutiny of land and resource management, and the 4Rs are key to addressing challenge," TFI President Ford West said in a written statement.
Nelson, Moran Lead Efforts to Withdraw Rules on Young Farm Workers
Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson and Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas stood up for rural communities by asking the U.S. Department of Labor to withdraw a proposed rule that could change the structure of family farms and have a negative impact on the education of the next generation of farmers. On September 2nd, the agency announced proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which could, among other provisions, prohibit teens and children younger than 16 from working on a farm or ranch that is not directly owned by their parents.
Nelson and Moran sent a letter to Secretary Hilda Solis that read, "As a result of the many deficiencies of the proposed rule outlined in this letter, we request the Department withdraw the proposed rule immediately." The letter, which was signed by 30 U.S. Senators, raised a number of specific issues.
The letter is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council, the National FFA Organization, the American Horse Council, the National Milk Producers Federation, Dairy Farmers of America, the National Association of Agricultural Educators and the National Corn Growers Association.
"We would like to emphasize the Department was under no obligation to propose new regulations. Congress has not amended the Fair Labor Standards Act in regard to the agricultural standards referenced in the proposed rule since 1977. It is puzzling why the Department would suddenly propose changes to existing regulations, particularly considering the advancements in farm equipment and adoption of technologies that have improved operator safety in the last 35 years," according to the letter.
New OSHA Tire Charts Required
If your employees service single-piece and multi-piece rim wheels, then your tire charts need to be updated. OSHA has revised its tire servicing materials to address current hazards in the industry and help workers safely perform maintenance on large vehicle tires. The materials address OSHA's Materials Handling and Storage standard that protects workers who service single-piece and multi-piece rim wheels. Following recent talks with representatives from tire, rubber and wheel manufacturers, OSHA determined a need for new materials with updates from sources such as the Tire Industry Association. The updated information, available in a portable manual or as three poster-sized charts, is easier to access and use. OSHA's revised "Multi-piece Rim Matching Chart" provides an updated list of current and obsolete components and the old "Demounting and Mounting Procedures for Truck/Bus Tires" chart is now expanded into two charts that deal individually with tubeless and tube-type tires. The revised materials (posters: OSHA 3401, 3402, 3403 and manual: OSHA 3421) can be downloaded from OSHA by clicking here.
OSHA Updates Enforcement Guidance on PPE
OSHA recently released an updated compliance directive, CPL 02-01-050 Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry, which instructs enforcement personnel on both the agency's interpretations of PPE standards and the procedures for enforcing them. Prompted by numerous revisions to the PPE standards, including a final rule for employer payment for personal protective equipment and a final rule to revise the PPE standards based on National Consensus standards, this updated instruction makes the following changes effective February 10, 2012:
  • Clarification on what type of PPE employers must provide at no cost, when employers must pay for PPE, or for replacement PPE, and when employers are not required to pay for PPE.
  • Clarification of the PPE payment requirements for PPE worn off the jobsite, for PPE that must remain at the jobsite, and for employee-owned PPE.
  • Enforcement policies that reflect court and review commission decisions concerning PPE.
  • Guidance that allows employers to use PPE constructed in accordance with the most recent national consensus standards.
J.J. Keller & Associates Advice to Motor Carriers: Monitoring Medical Card Expiration Dates is More Important Than Ever!
This article is made possible by J.J. Keller & Associates, a valued partner of the Asmark Institute for over 23 years. Our thanks to J.J. Keller for their support over the years and for the use of this article.
With the recent delay of portions of the Commercial Driver's License (CDL)/Medical Card Merger Rule, some may have mistakenly believed the motor carrier's role was just made easier over the next couple of years. This is not the case.
The recent rulemaking pushed back the date when motor carriers must request their CDL holders' driving records showing their medical status, instead of collecting a copy of the medical examiner's certificates (aka medical card or physical card). This has been delayed two years.
But the role of the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has not been delayed. Many are starting to collect information on existing and new CDL holders and entering their medical status and medical expiration dates into the CDL database. This process is called "self-certifying."
All new CDL holders in the state must self-certify upon application beginning January 30, 2012. All other CDL holders' medical statuses will be in the system, including existing CDL drivers, no later than January 30, 2014.
Why should this matter?
Until recently, operating a commercial motor vehicle with an expired medical card resulted in a violation of your Driver's Qualification (DQ) file recordkeeping in the event of an audit. This same violation if discovered during a roadside inspection, would place the driver out-of-service, and the event would be scored in the Driver Fitness BASIC using the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Methodology.
Under the new rule, an interstate driver who has not self-certified, will lose CDL driving privileges. And, going forward, using a CDL holder who has not self-certified will result in both a CDL licensing and driver qualification violation during audits and roadside inspections. Both violations appear in the Driver Fitness BASIC.
What can you do now?
Motor carriers must actively monitor when the states represented in their organization are sending out letters to existing CDL holders. They will need to know if their CDL drivers have self-certified with the state initially and every time his or her card expires. To do otherwise, might result in using a driver with an inactive CDL.
States are not required to contact employers when a driver loses his or her CDL privileges, so the motor carrier must put in place a system of checks and balances to ensure the driver has submitted his or her medical card. A tickler file could be assembled or you could create an in-house spreadsheet or simply create a list of driver names and medical card expiration dates. Drivers should be reminded well in advance of the expiration date to allow for the scheduling of medical exams and the state DMV's processing time, when they receive the self-certification.
If your CDL driver does any of the following, he or she may have a "not certified" medical qualification status:
  • Neglects to initially self-certify when the state begins the process.
  • Fails to renew his or her medical card.
  • Does not turn in his or her medical card or turns it in late.
This "not certified" status, if not corrected within 10 days of the expiration date, results in the loss of his or her CDL privilege in interstate commerce. This would appear on the motor vehicle report within 60 days.
2012 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.