Have you got what it takes to be a ResponsibleAg credentialed auditor? If so, you can be an important asset for the ag retail industry, helping facilities identify areas of noncompliance and improve safety practices. It’s time for the 2021 Auditor Training Course, and just eight seats remain available for the June 22-25 annual session. Industry expert Brian Miller, president of Miller Risk Management, leads the four-day day program at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, Kentucky. The training combines classroom lectures, computer lab tasks, role-play scenarios, problem-solving sessions, hands-on exercises and mock auditing.
Alicia Wagner Brown, an environmental compliance specialist for CHS, Inc., originally thought four days of classroom training would not hold her attention but found the combination of classroom training and hands-on training was excellent. “The hands-on training gave attendees the chance to discuss, share personal audit experiences and learn from each other,” she says.
Register today while seats are still available. Learn more about becoming an auditor by visiting the “Become an Auditor” section at ResponsibleAg.org or call 270-683-6777.Back to Top
In the second of a two-part series, Tim McArdle, retired COO of Brandt and Chairman of the Board of ResponsibleAg, shares his thoughts on how the organization serves as a resource for agribusinesses and one of his personal goals for the organization.
One of the most important, but also toughest, responsibilities ag retailers have is meeting safety, security and regulatory compliance regulations at their facilities. At ResponsibleAg, one goal is to provide online resources and tools that make it easier for agribusiness to successfully tackle this job. One such resource is the ResponsibleAg audit assessment checklist, which addresses more than 300 questions covering 17 areas commonly found at ag retail locations.
“Our very first goal is to ensure our audit checklist stays up to date and doesn’t get stale,” says McArdle. “It’s critical because any time there is a change in the administration in Washington, regardless of party, there is the potential for new leaders at the regulatory agencies and that often means possible new regulations.”
The ResponsibleAg technical committee, which is made up of industry regulatory professionals, closely monitors the checklist and updates it to reflect any recent regulatory changes. This ensures audits completed by ResponsibleAg credentialed auditors cover any recently implemented regulations. “It’s one of the reasons it is such a valuable tool for the industry and a cornerstone of the program,” says McArdle.
Facility managers can easily use the checklist to help them prepare for an audit by a credentialed ResponsibleAg auditor. The Compliance Library is another online resource that is continuously monitored by the ResponsibleAg Technical Committee and updated as needed.
One of McArdle’s personal goals is to explore adding emissions and climate standards to the assessment checklist. “It’s thinking outside the box regarding safety protocols, yet these are the types of potential regulations that may be coming down the road.” He says it could be 5 years or 10 years before the industry will see regulatory standards in these areas, but that’s a distinct possibility. McArdle continues, “If it does happen, ResponsibleAg wants to be prepared so we can continue to provide guidance and value by helping our members remain compliant with all regulations.”Back to Top
Many audits were postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but with cases declining and health protocols relaxing nationwide, there’s no better time than now to schedule your audit for your facility. Having a ResponsibleAg credentialed auditor complete an audit will help you identify safety risks and correct problems, ultimately preventing workplace injuries and fatalities. Take advantage of the summer months and get your audit completed before the busy fall season.
To help you prepare for an audit, take a few minutes and review the ResponsibleAg audit checklist. It’s just one of the helpful resources available from ResponsibleAg.Back to Top
Perhaps you've noticed more and more emails are ending up in your email spam and junk folders. If you're finding emails from ResponsibleAg there, please add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contacts or safe senders list. Safelisting (also called "whitelisting") an email address ensures that emails sent from that specific address reach the Inbox, instead of being marked as spam.Back to Top
Mark your calendars for OSHA’s Safe + Sound Week, August 9–15. Start planning your communications and activities now for this annual nationwide event recognizing the successes of workplace health and safety programs. Find ideas and resources here to help you plan your Safe + Sound activities. Last year, 3,400 businesses helped to raise awareness about workers’ health and safety. Join ResponsibleAg in supporting this important cause and be one of the companies to participate in this year’s event.Back to Top
After a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19 concerns, the annual National Agronomic, Environmental, Health & Safety School (NAEHSS) is back on for 2021. The one-day event will take place at the Asmark Institute Agricenter in Bloomington, IL, on August 24, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Registration opens on June 10 and is limited to 75 participants as the organization eases back into large in-person gatherings.
Registration is reduced to $125 and includes an on-site catered lunch. Several hotels are offering a reduced rate for safety school attendees. Find the list by visiting naehss.org and selecting the “hotels” button.
Although the full agenda is still being finalized, two scheduled presenters include Brian Bothast, safety and occupational health specialist for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and transportation industry expert Tom Bray from J.J. Keller & Associates, who will discuss the Department of Transportation’s new entry-level driver training. Jean Payne, recently retired IFCA President, is the keynote speaker.Back to Top
It’s the busy season. Sprayer booms get tweaked and bent. Welds break. Shanks are broken. The repair shop and welders are in use getting equipment back into the fields. This type of work often involves the use of oxygen and acetylene, which is number 11 on ResponsibleAg’s list of Top 25 audit issues. Employers are responsible for providing training for employees who handle compressed gases. The Compressed Gas Association and OSHA 29 CFR 1910.101 lay out requirements for ensuring evaluation of the hazards of compressed gases, implementing safety procedures and providing the proper hazard information to workers who use these gases. Training should address the safe handling of compressed gases, general safety rules for specific types of gases, visual inspection of compressed gas cylinders, general safety rules for use of compressed gas and compressed gas storage locations.
Ag retail facility managers who participate in the ResponsibleAg Certification Program have access to the online Compliance Assistance Library, where they’ll find complete details about regulations governing 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
Managing an ag retail facility can be a juggling act, keeping profitability, operations, safety, security and hundreds of other balls in the air. Ag retail facility managers from across the country are turning to ResponsibleAg to make safety, security, regulatory compliance and saving money easier. To learn more, invest a short hour of your time to watch this recent webinar hosted by the Agricultural Retailers Association and the Fertilizer Institute.Back to Top
We want to hear from you about your experience with ResponsibleAg and how the program has benefited your business. Submit your story at email@example.com.Back to Top
The EPA has extended the “annual fit test delay” to September 30, 2021, in response to continued pandemic-related challenges. The extension is part of previously issued guidance on respiratory protection requirements for agricultural pesticide handlers and aligns with OSHA memos on respirators and Worker Protection Standard (WPS) requirements. The extension applies to handlers whose annual fit test was delayed due to COVID-19, as long as they received an annual fit test in 2019 or 2020 on the specific make and model of respirator they will continue to use and haven’t experienced any physiological changes that affect the seal between the facepiece and the user’s face. Employers also must demonstrate that handlers have received respirator training.Back to Top
OSHA is proposing updates to the Walking-Working Surfaces (WWS) standards of 2016 to clarify which handrail and stair rail requirements apply to new stair rail systems. OSHA has previously clarified that a handrail is required on the open side of certain stairways. Another clarification eased a restriction related to previously installed stair rail systems, allowing the top rail to serve as a handrail when it is as low as 30 inches. The proposed rule seeks only to clarify requirements for handrails and stair rail systems finalized in 2016. Submit your comments on the proposal by July 19.Back to Top
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.