Few people have had a more positive influence on the fertilizer and agricultural industries or left a greater legacy of leadership than Ford B. West. He worked tirelessly to promote industry safety and regulatory compliance. In this month’s Faces of ResponsibleAg, we honor West’s legacy, remember his distinguished career, and pay tribute to his role as one of the fertilizer industry’s greatest and most respected leaders.Back to Top
As an environmental compliance specialist for CHS Inc., Alicia Wagner Brown helps numerous facilities meet the expectations of the company’s internal Environmental Health and Safety program. She says having her credentials as a ResponsibleAg auditor brings additional value.
“The ResponsibleAg program aligns well with CHS’s compliance program,” says Brown, who received her ResponsibleAg credentials in 2017. “It’s a good check and balance to make sure we’re covering all the bases we should.”
Brown says she typically shares the audit checklist with facility management before completing onsite audits.
“Our locations focus on agronomy and providing services to our members, but they really do want to be in compliance,” Brown adds. “When conducting audits, I point out that if corrective action is needed, it’s better that we work together to identify it, versus the EPA or OSHA finding an issue.”
Brown adds she frequently uses ResponsibleAg’s Compliance Assistance Library when working with facility managers. “If I mark an item on the audit checklist that needs corrective action, I often hear ‘What does that mean and why didn’t it pass?’” Brown says. “It’s easy to go to the ResponsibleAg website and search the library by topic to find the rules and regulations on why corrective action is needed for a specific item. It’s not just me saying it needs fixing.”
While CHS has its own EHS compliance program, many locations seek to also achieve ResponsibleAg certification. Brown says the reasons vary, but all reflect a commitment to workplace and community safety.
“Some site managers like displaying the plaque so their customers can see the safety steps they’re taking,” she says. “Others have competitors who participate in the program, so it helps level the playing field. Others just see it as doing the right thing.”Back to Top
In the first of several articles, Tim McArdle, recently retired COO of Brandt and Chairman of the Board of ResponsibleAg, shares his thoughts on the organization’s accomplishments since its inception in 2014 and its future goals.
Tim McArdle was a proponent of the ResponsibleAg initiative from the start, saying the program’s third-party verified audit and certification programs are key in showing regulators two things: 1) the ag retail industry places high importance on compliance, and 2) the industry is capable of self-regulating.
The accomplishment McArdle says he’s most proud of is the number of registered and certified facilities in the program. Currently, 2,500+ facilities are registered and 1,275 are certified. “It’s really impressive how many companies ‒ mostly ag retailers ‒ have registered and continue to register year in and year out. Once in, most companies stay in the program, too, and their membership remains consistent.” The goal of ResponsibleAg is for all registered facilities to be audited by a ResponsibleAg-credentialed auditor and to resolve all identified audit issues, with the ultimate goal of compliance with all federal regulations. McArdle credits the audit checklist as one of the most important compliance tools in the program. In the June newsletter, he discusses how the ResponsibleAg technical committee keeps the Audit Checklist relevant for the industry year after year.
Since the first ResponsibleAg audits were conducted in 2015, more than 121,000 compliance issues have been identified at participating facilities. While not all were considered major infractions, and some were only paperwork issues, McArdle says a regulatory agency conducting an audit could cite a facility for any of them. “Today, more than 90,000 of the issues have been resolved,” says McArdle. “While I think that’s a good track record for ResponsibleAg, our goal is to continue to improve those numbers.”
Even though increased awareness of the need for compliance is one of the program’s less tangible accomplishments, in McArdle’s opinion it is a critical outcome. “ResponsibleAg is really all about compliance. Everyone in our industry knows we’re a fairly highly regulated industry, so compliance is critical. Participation in ResponsibleAg is an inexpensive way for a company to address compliance issues head on and make sure its Environmental, Health and Safety program is working.” To learn more about ResponsibleAg and the wide array of tools that help members stay abreast of federal regulations and keep their facilities in compliance, visit ResponsibleAg.org.Back to Top
Understanding regulations and knowing required safety practices are key to improving safety and security for employees, customers and communities. That’s where ResponsibleAg can help. Managers at facilities registered with the ResponsibleAg Certification Program have access to a robust collection of valuable tools to help facility personnel learn what is required to improve their level of compliance with regulations. The Compliance Assistance Library is one of the most frequently used tools from ResponsibleAg. Following a third-party verified audit, anyone responsible for implementing corrective actions will find easy-to-understand explanations of even the most complex regulation as well as who it applies to and the date it became effective.
During the past 12 months, people viewed 143 regulations in the online library a total of more than 52,370 times. The top regulations viewed online for more information include:
“The library is focused on the agricultural retail industry. Everything I need is there. I can do my research on Google, but if I do, I go down rabbit holes on things that aren’t relevant. With ResponsibleAg, I know the information directly applies to what we are doing at Valley Ag.” Ryan Lloyd, Former Safety Supervisor, Valley Ag, Pocatello, Idaho “ResponsibleAg is a fabulous tool for our busy managers when they need information for a Toolbox Talk. The Compliance Assistance Library is easy to use and has concise summaries of regulatory standards that can be printed as a handout. Anything updated recently is in red, and the summaries have hyperlinks that take you to the standards, so you’re not spending days trying to find the source of the information to get a full understanding of what is required.” Brian Crets, Regional Health, Environment and Safety Manager, Yara North America, Tampa, Florida “I frequently use 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.” Mike Henry, Director of Environmental, Gavilon Fertilizer, Omaha, NebraskaBack to Top
The COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing may have delayed ResponsibleAg audits, but as vaccinations increase, now is a good time for participating facilities to schedule an audit for this summer. If your organization doesn’t have a ResponsibleAg-credentialed internal auditor, simply visit the participant login, click Select Auditor and choose the auditor near you that best fits your facility’s needs. There are more than 100 contract and internal auditors throughout the United States. You’re sure to find an auditor near you. Credentialed auditors are at the heart of the ResponsibleAg Certification Program and deliver accurate and credible audits consistently across the entire organization.Back to Top
The maintenance shop at your facility likely has at least one grinder, so it’s important to know that issues with safety guards or clearances on grinders have been noted in many ResponsibleAg audits. In fact, this is number eight on ResponsibleAg’s list of Top 25 audit issues. Employers are required to make sure employees are protected from the dangers involved in operating grinders. A safety guard must cover the spindle end, nut and flange. The guard must be mounted so it stays properly aligned with the wheel, and the fasteners must be stronger than the strength of the guard. The clearance for the tool rest can’t be more than 1/8" from the wheel. No more than 90 degrees of the wheel edge can be exposed, and the distance between the wheel edge and the adjustable tongue can’t be more than 1/4".
By participating in the ResponsibleAg Certification Program, ag retail facility managers have access to the online Compliance Assistance Library, where they’ll find complete details about regulations governing grinders ‒ as well as other critical equipment and processes ‒ and specific ways to ensure compliance. To ensure your facility gets access to the Compliance Assistance Library and other helpful tools, register for ResponsibleAg today!Back to Top
Do you work in ag and have an interest in promoting safety in the workplace and teaching others? Then consider attending the 2021 Auditor Training Course. This comprehensive, four-day training course combines in-class and hands-on training, June 22-25 at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, Kentucky. Sign up today while seats are still available. Limited space remains. To learn more about becoming an auditor, visit the “Become an Auditor” section at ResponsibleAg.org or call 270-683-6777. Register now.Back to Top
Ag Day is the perfect opportunity for everyone involved in feeding and clothing the world, directly or indirectly, to bring attention to agriculture. Participating is easy. Find materials that will help you tell the story of how food and fiber are produced and the role agriculture plays in providing, safe, abundant and affordable products. This year’s theme is Food Brings Everyone to the Table.Back to Top
It only takes one second of distracted driving – whether handling a forklift, operating a semi-truck or just heading home after work -- to change a life forever. Attentive driving is always important. Join the National Safety Council and ResponsibleAg during Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April to help make roadways, workplaces and people safer.
Create a distracted driving program and engage your workforce with ready-made communications and resources throughout April. Find Everything You Need for Distracted Driving Awareness Month online, including educational materials to help eliminate fatalities caused by distracted driving.Back to Top
ResponsibleAg wants everyone to be safe during the busy planting season. Make sure to check your inbox in June for the next issue of the ResponsibleAg newsletter.Back to Top
The Department of Transportation 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 May 31, 2021. The extension is in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Drivers claiming relief under this waiver must continue to carry a paper copy of their expired medical certificate. If a driver’s physician is accepting appointments, schedule one as soon as possible.
Based on roadside inspections in 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued its list of top violations for the year. The following table identifies the top five violations in the driver, vehicle and hazardous materials categories. All team members should be reminded about the importance of always following safe driving and operating measures.Back to Top
Between May 4-6, inspectors across North America will examine braking systems, lights, tires and other components on commercial trucks and buses during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s 34th annual International Roadcheck.
This year’s 72-hour enforcement and safety outreach event will place special emphasis on lighting and hours of service. The inspections during this three-day period are no different from inspections routinely conducted throughout the year, except data is collected.
The 2020 event resulted in 50,151 inspections, with 20.9% of vehicles and 5.1% of drivers placed out of service. Make sure your drivers are prepared.
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.