The 2021 ResponsibleAg Audit Checklist, includes questions on two new topics: 1) the annual FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse query that businesses are required to run checking for unresolved drug and alcohol program violations for their CDL drivers; and 2) ensuring placement of posters describing the current rights of employees of California agribusinesses to see medical and exposure records.
The audit checklist is a comprehensive list of questions used by credentialed auditors to assess the level of compliance at each participating facility. It’s also a great tool that can help ensure your facility remains in compliance throughout the three-year audit cycle. Check it out today.Back to Top
It’s a new year ‒ a good time for all ResponsibleAg auditors to complete the annual online refresher training tutorial in order to remain credentialed and perform audits in 2021. If you haven’t completed the online tutorial, login today to your auditor account on ResponsibleAg.org. The training provides updates on changes and offers refreshers and friendly reminders on various topics.Back to Top
Jim Belke’s career has taken different turns throughout the years. A former U.S. Naval officer whose training qualified him as a chief nuclear engineer aboard nuclear submarines, he now serves as coordinator of the EPA Risk Management Program. No matter the job, however, he says all have had a common thread ‒ managing risks and preventing accidents.
Belke notes that at the EPA, safety Is the goal, and that’s why he is an ardent supporter of the ResponsibleAg program. As he puts it, “As a government regulator, I view ResponsibleAg as a great thing. We’d much rather have the industry taking ownership, finding safety issues and fixing them before we ever show up.” Read why in the latest Faces of ResponsibleAg.Back to Top
As retailers turn the calendar to 2021 and the Biden administration takes the lead in government agencies that regulate agriculture, the question looms: “What, if any, regulatory changes should be expected?”
Fortunately for the ag retail industry, the public policy team at the Agricultural Retailer’s Association (ARA) has great insights into the new administration’s priority issues. The team is prepared to engage with current contacts at regulatory agencies, as well as incumbent legislators, six new senators and the large class of 60 new incoming members of Congress.
Richard Gupton, Senior Vice President, Public Policy at ARA, notes a few of the key issues on the organization’s radar.
Presenting agriculture’s position using sound, science-based information is paramount in educating lawmakers and working toward proactive efforts. It’s also critical to find incentive-based solutions for agriculture rather than relying on heavy-handed regulatory enforcement. ARA also will highlight industry efforts to ensure compliance, such as the voluntary ResponsibleAg Certification Program.
Key efforts in this area begin early in 2021 with the ARA Virtual Fly In, Feb 11 - Mar 19, 2021. Members are encouraged to register and participate to help bring about necessary legislation and policies that benefit agricultural retailers, farmer customers and rural communities.Back to Top
In a statement late last year, President-elect Biden said his administration will ask OSHA to detemine whether to establish an emergency temporary standard to keep workers safe from COVID-19. OSHA could act immediately by ramping up inspections, filling vacancies and creating a workplace safety standard to be followed during the pandemic. OSHA reported collecting $3.85 million in fines during 2020 for violations arising from 295 inspections related to the coronavirus. Seventeen citations were issued in the week ending December 24.Back to Top
Number 12 on the ResponsibleAg list of Top 25 Audit Issues is the requirement to have a first aid kit with adequate supplies at the ready. Particularly if there is not a medical facility nearby for treatment of injured employees, ag facilities are required to have a well-equipped first aid kit as well as one or more persons adequately trained to render first aid.
This is just one example of the many regulations and documentation explained in detail within ResponsibleAg’s online Compliance Assistance Library. Program participants can quickly access all regulatory details by visiting this detailed online resource. If your organization isn’t participating in the ResponsibleAg program, register today for this and many other resources to ensure your business is compliant and your employees safe.Back to Top
Make sure you don’t miss any news from ResponsibleAg in 2021. It takes only a few quick steps to add ResponsibleAg.org to your “safe senders” list. Doing so ensures email messages from ResponsibleAg will never be moved to the Junk E-mail folder. For help, use your browser to search “safe senders list” and find the process right for your e-mail program.Back to Top
Managers at ResponsibleAg-registered facilities have one-stop access to a robust collection of tools to improve their level of compliance with federal regulations. Membership benefits and resources include:
See for yourself the powerful resources available from ResponsibleAg by visiting “Experience ResponsibleAg” at ResponsibleAg.org.Back to Top
If you’re thinking about becoming a credentialed auditor for ResponsibleAg, don’t miss your opportunity to sign up for the 2021 Auditor Training Course, June 22-25. This unique ‘hands-on’ course is held in Owensboro, KY, in a former agrichemical facility retrofitted specifically for training purposes. Course instructor, Brian Miller, takes a practical and comprehensive approach to preparing auditors. Space is limited, and there are only 15 seats left. Reserve your spot today!Back to Top
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has extended the waiver for expiring commercial driver's licenses (CDLs) and permits, as well as non-CDL licenses, for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers, until February 28, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, some CMV drivers have been unable to renew their licenses and are unable to provide medical certificates to their state driver licensing agencies, many of which are experiencing greater than normal employee absences, reduced hours of operation or closed offices. In addition, many medical providers have canceled regularly scheduled appointments, preventing drivers from making appointments for physical examinations with medical examiners who comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Drivers claiming relief under this waiver must continue to carry a paper copy of their expired medical certificate.Back to Top
Did your company remember to run its annual query with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse for all its CDL drivers? Employers who are registered in the Clearinghouse database run queries to determine whether current and prospective employees have unresolved DOT drug and alcohol violations that prohibit them from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as driving a CMV. An employer or designated consortia or third-party administrator (C/TPA), such as a drug testing provider, must run a query before hiring a CDL driver as part of the pre-employment investigation process. An annual query is also required for currently employed CDL drivers. If you haven’t worked with your C/TPA to run the required annual queries, do so today.Back to Top
In mid-December, five states ‒ California, Illinois, New York, Maryland and Minnesota ‒ sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over a pesticide safety rule that narrows the areas where farmers are required to limit human presence during the application of pesticides. The states argue that the rule will harm their agricultural workers. The finalized rule issued in October says that requirements governing areas near pesticide applications can be enforced only on a farmer’s property and not in surrounding “off-farm” areas. The EPA argued that it was hard for farmers to enforce rules in areas off their property, but opponents of the move say that the changes risk exposing more people to harmful chemicals that can drift into nearby areas.Back to Top
The latest COVID-19 relief legislation includes a number of provisions that may assist business during the pandemic. It extends the New Markets Tax Credit and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and includes a number of new and revised Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provisions:
EPA is taking the next step in its regulatory review of the pesticide Chlorpyrifos by proposing these measures to reduce risks:
A coalition of farm and business groups recently filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles challenging an emergency regulation approved by the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board. The complaint alleges, among other things, that the Board lacks statutory authority to impose many of the sweeping measures of the emergency temporary standards (ETS) on California employers. Additionally, the complaint contends that many of the regulations have nothing to do with workplace health or occupational safety but are designed to address non-work-related COVID-19 exposure risks.
The six plaintiff organizations are:
In response to the real-world challenges numerous industries, including agricultural retailers, face in identifying and managing combustible dust, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) recently released a Dust Hazard Learning Review. The CSB is an independent, non-regulatory federal agency that investigates the root causes of major chemical incidents. The organization’s mission is to drive chemical safety change through independent investigations to protect people and the environment. The agency was created under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
In response to a 2017 explosion incident at a milling facility, CSB surveyed individuals involved in the safe conduct of work at inherently dust-producing environments at risk for explosions. While there’s a shared understanding of the hazards of dust, including grain and fertilizer dust, CSB investigations found that efforts to manage those hazards often fail to prevent catastrophic explosions. The resulting review is based on multiple industry perspectives, specifically focusing on the following issues that make it difficult to manage combustible dust:
The report suggests some solutions, including the development of an online forum or Lessons Learned Center, where the community can explore combustible dust issues and learn from each other.Back to Top
ResponsibleAg is excited to announce three more ag professionals are now credentialed and available to audit ag retail facilities throughout the United States. Welcome to the team, Gentlemen!
Welcome to these facilities that are now Committed, Compliant, Safe, and Certified. We'd like to send a special shout out to the locations that have completed recertification, noted below with an asterisk*. The commitment to safety by all these facilities represents an incredibly positive and important effort for our industry. Congratulations to all!
ResponsibleAg is an industry-led initiative committed to helping agribusinesses properly store and handle farm input supplies. The program helps members ensure they are compliant with environmental, health, safety and security regulations to keep employees, customers and our communities safe.