While anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate are useful tools of the farming trade, did you know these substances and hundreds of others, including fumigants and even propane, can become tools of terror in the wrong hands? That’s why the U.S. Department of Homeland Security established the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program in 2006. Agricultural retailers, fertilizer manufacturers and distributors of these types of chemicals are among the communities within the CFATS program.
Dave Wulf, past associate director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which oversees the CFATS program, says the very real risk that certain hazardous chemicals could be weaponized by terrorists is one reason he supports the ResponsibleAg Certification Program. “I think programs like ResponsibleAg are really important in that they educate not only on safety protocols but also on the array of regulatory requirements that might apply in the security arena.”
To know more about how CISA works with ag retailers and others, read the latest Faces of ResponsibleAg.Back to Top
ResponsibleAg’s annual ranking of the Top 25 Audit Issues is now online at ResponsibleAg.org. The common issues related to Lockout/Tagout, Workplace Hazards and the DOT’s requirement for spare fuses are once again list toppers. Guarding and clearances for grinders and the inspection of fire extinguishers both moved up the list significantly. First aid training is now on the list at #25.
Wondering if your facilities meet the related regulations? Finding out is easy and affordable by participating in the ResponsibleAg Certification Program. You’ll receive access to the ResponsibleAg online Audit Checklist, Compliance Assistance Library, a list of ResponsibleAg credentialed facility auditors and many other online resources to ensure your business is compliant and your employees safe. Visit ResponsibleAg.org today for more information or simply register today.Back to Top
February 2021 marks the fourth annual National Pesticide Safety Education Month, and any group interested in the safe use of pesticides is encouraged to participate. Do you have plans to join in? Below are a few ideas you can use to promote safe pesticide use.
With approximately 1 million certified pesticide applicators in the U.S., both commercial and private (including farmers), National Pesticide Safety Education Month reinforces core principles of safe pesticide use. It also raises awareness of and support for land-grant university Pesticide Safety Education Programs.Back to Top
Mike Henry wears many hats in his role as Director of Environmental at Gavilon Fertilizer in Omaha, Nebraska. One of those is the hardhat he dons as an internal safety auditor for the company. He credits the ResponsibleAg Auditor Training Program with helping him do his job successfully.
One of the greatest benefits, he says, is the structure the program provides.
“It’s great using an audit developed and maintained by a third party,” he explains. “It helps reduce inherent bias and provides a level of independence between the auditor and facility that would be challenging to replicate using traditional internal auditing techniques.”
Henry adds that he frequently uses ResponsibleAg’s Compliance Assistance Library when working with facility managers, who appreciate the brief, no-nonsense summary of requirements related to a piece of equipment or activity that may have been noted as a corrective action on their audit.Back to Top
The 2021 Auditor Training Course is coming up June 22-25, 2021, at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, Kentucky. Only 14 seats remain for this comprehensive, hands-on four-day training course held in a former agrichemical facility retrofitted specifically for training. Sign up today while space is still available! Covid-19 precautions will be followed, and social distancing will be practiced.
To learn more about becoming an auditor, visit the “Become an Auditor” section at ResponsibleAg.org or call 270-683-6777. Don’t delay – register now.Back to Top
Whether at work or at home, it seems like a pretty simple task to climb a ladder to make a repair or move an item. Yet every year more than 100 people die in ladder-related accidents, and thousands suffer disabling injuries. Join the American Ladder Institute in celebrating the fifth annual National Ladder Safety Month from February 22 – March 31.
Goals of National Ladder Safety Month include:
Learn more about National Ladder Safety Month and find resources to help raise awareness.Back to Top
The March 1st deadline for completing Superfund Amendments & Reauthorization Act (SARA) Tier II forms is quickly approaching. Organizations with certain amounts of hazardous chemicals are required to fill out Tier II Reports each year and submit them to local fire departments, emergency planning committees and state emergency response commissions.
The Tier II form captures information vital to first responders about the types, quantities and locations of hazardous chemicals at a given facility. The form also lists contact information for the facility’s designated emergency point-of-contact. Penalties for violations of Section 312 of SARA Title III can reach up to $27,500 for each violation. Fines add up quickly since each day a violation continues to exist constitutes a separate violation.Back to Top
It's time to complete your 2020 injury and illness recordkeeping obligations by posting OSHA Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. Be sure to post the notice from February 1st to April 30th each year in a visible place with other employee notices. Even if your businesses had no injuries or illnesses for the year, the form has to be posted. A company official must certify that he or she examined the information in Form 300A was and believes it to be correct and complete. Find the forms and instructions here.
The rule requires all businesses with 250+ employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation to electronically submit Form 300A no later than March 2nd. Companies with 20-249 employees in certain industries, including "warehousing and storage," also must submit the form by March 2nd. OSHA began accepting electronic submissions on January 2nd.Back to Top
It has become a yearly event for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to increase civil fines for violations and this year's announcement adds in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Clearinghouse violations. The DOT has been enforcing carriers’ compliance with the FMCSA Clearinghouse for nearly a year. Civil penalties now being included for these violations is a sign the agency is becoming more serious about enforcing FMCSA Clearinghouse compliance in 2021. Other fine amounts have increased just over 1% to reflect inflation. The new civil penalties became effective January 11th. The penalty adjustments apply only to violations that take place after the effective date.
Be sure to request the appropriate Clearinghouse queries on your CDL drivers to avoid violations and the associated fines.Back to Top
The U.S. Department of Labor recently adopted a final rule simplifying the process for defining a worker as an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The rule includes an “economic realities” test that considers whether workers are in business for themselves (independent contractor) or are instead economically dependent on an employer for work (employee).
The new rule explains two “core factors” for the determination:
It also identifies three other factors for this analysis, particularly when the two core factors do not point to the same kind of classification:
The final rule is scheduled to become effective on March 8th unless overturned by Congress.Back to Top
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently reached a settlement agreement with a California ag retailer following inspections at four facilities in 2018 and 2019. The inspections found multiple violations, including failure to seal cracks in containment structures and loading pads, insufficient capacity of containment structures, failure to generate and maintain repackaging records, failure to attach and maintain complete product labels, and offering for sale misbranded products. The company agreed to pay a civil penalty of $88,000 and has certified it is now in compliance. Federal pesticide laws require proper pesticide handling, labeling, and packaging, as well as registration of pesticide products and pesticide production facilities.Back to Top
Earlier this year, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) submitted comments to the U.S. EPA regarding the proposed interim decision for paraquat. In comments, ARA opposes new use restrictions for this critically important pesticide product that has been historically safe when the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act-approved label is followed.
ARA supports EPA's proposal to allow truck drivers who are not certified applicators to transport paraquat when certain conditions are met because there are not enough certified applicators available to be solely responsible for the transportation of restricted-use pesticides. Read the full comments and learn why ARA is urging EPA to reconsider the proposed limitations.Back to Top
ResponsibleAg is excited to announce these individuals are now credentialed and available to audit ag retail facilities throughout the United States.
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.