Like other ag retail locations, White River Cooperative in Loogootee, Indiana, is increasing its attention on safety and compliance. Although a relative newcomer to the program, the coop is now ResponsibleAg certified. Brian Scheid, risk coordinator for White River Cooperative, says employees have always been committed to safety, but ResponsibleAg has helped take them to even higher standards.
Scheid became interested in ResponsibleAg in late 2018 after learning more about the program while attending training offered by the Asmark Institute. He notes that even though 2020 was lost to COVID-19, the company was able to get the Loogootee location certified earlier this summer. Scheid is working to have two more White River facilities certified by the end of 2021. White River Cooperative and Premier Companies, both with facilities in southern Indiana, will merge on Sept. 1, 2021.
“Over the last five years, we’ve had tremendous buy in and engagement from employees in the safety program,” says Scheid. “But the ResponsibleAg audit process helped jump that to another level. The audit process and its transparency in matching compliance regulations to the specific federal standards is a big help. It’s not just the safety guy saying these things need to be done ‒ ResponsibleAg promotes ongoing engagement from employees.”
Scheid says the program delivers value and savings to the company in several ways. “The audit process identifies potential compliance issues, small or large,” he says. “Sometimes employees overlook little things, like missing or faded signs or documentation of monthly fire extinguisher inspections, but these are finable OSHA offenses.” He adds, “In my opinion, we’re just beginning to see the program’s benefits. Sharing the news that our facilities are certified through ResponsibleAg helps show our local communities, employees, suppliers and insurance companies that we prioritize safety and protecting the environment.”Back to Top
Congratulations! Your facility is ResponsibleAg certified! Now it’s time to promote this accomplishment to customers, employees and your community. Hang your ResponsibleAg certification plaque in a prominent place and visit the ResponsibleAg Store for brochures, window clings and facility signage. You can also find materials to help build awareness of your program participation in the Certification Welcome Kit.
ResponsibleAg helps certified locations in this effort by sending letters to congressional representatives of the district in which the facility is located. Often, those letters prompt a congratulatory reply because legislators recognize and appreciate the importance of your efforts. They can even lead to facility visits from lawmakers, giving you the chance to personally showcase your facility and educate lawmakers about your efforts to be compliant and safe.
Consider these promotional ideas:
We receive a lot of questions about ResponsibleAg, and we’re sure you have a question or two. One of the most commonly asked questions is “How can I register my facility?” It’s easy. Simply log onto the registration page and click on the category that best describes your business. It’s the first step in securing facility certification. Check out the Did You Know article below for more details on the step-by-step certification process.
Watch these two videos to learn more about ResponsibleAg and how the program can help you improve security and save money.Back to Top
If you handle pesticides at your facility, do you have the required signage that meets regulatory requirements? Pesticides, whose uncontrolled release would have unreasonable adverse effects on the environment, should be stored in dry, well-ventilated areas in a separate room or building with fire protection.
Signage noting a hazard warning and alerting people to the contents is required on rooms, buildings and fences that contain pesticides classified as highly or moderately toxic and whose containers, including empty ones, are labeled with “danger,” “poison” or the skull and crossbones symbol.
Ag retailers who participate in the ResponsibleAg Certification program have access to the online Compliance Assistance Library, where they’ll find complete details about signage when storing pesticides ‒ 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
Lisa Hanson, who is a ResponsibleAg-credentialed auditor and EHS director for Ag Plus Inc. in South Whitley, Indiana, uses ResponsibleAg resources like the audit checklist and the MyRMP Guides to educate workers about safety, prevent workplace injuries and ultimately save the company money.
Why? The ResponsibleAg audit checklist covers a much broader array of compliance regulations than she could compile on her own. “The audit checklist includes some of the smallest compliance requirements that can be easily overlooked,” says Hanson. “In Indiana, we can be fined between $500 to $7,000 for noncompliance. We also have to consider that being in compliance may prevent someone from being injured.” She also uses the checklist to explain to workers why specific safety compliance measures are necessary.
The participants-only Compliance Assistance Library is another in-depth tool Hanson relies on. “I can search by topic and find concise summaries of regulatory standards specifically for the ag retail industry and print them as a handout.” She adds, “Government regulations seem to be continuously changing. The program and its tools help safety directors stay up to date. ResponsibleAg is a part of my team.”
Hanson continues, "Ag Plus recently had a ResponsibleAg audit conducted at our Woodburn grain location. We shouldn’t view ResponsibleAg auditors as trying to shut down a facility or looking over our shoulders. Instead, they should be viewed as another set of eyes and another resource to use in our safety programs. ResponsibleAg is a program that helps us make safety compliance easier.”Back to Top
Registering a facility with ResponsibleAg is the first step in becoming certified through the program. Below is a step-by-step overview of the auditing and certification process.
Step 1. Register your facility with ResponsibleAg. You’re now a program
Step 2. Schedule an audit with a ResponsibleAg-credentialed auditor.
Step 3. Prepare for an audit by reviewing the ResponsibleAg audit checklist.
Step 4. Auditor conducts facility audit.
Step 5. Facility is certified if there are no compliance issues.
Step 6. Recertification every three years ensures a facility remains compliant.
Extra steps when necessary:
The number of injuries and fatalities that occur at rural railroad crossings is astonishing. While only 19% of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, 34% of all public highway-rail grade crossing fatalities occur on rural roads. Additionally, 80% of railroad crossings without active warning devices are found in rural areas, making them potentially more dangerous.
The good news is the number of train-motor vehicle collisions has declined by 84% from a 1972 high of roughly 12,000 annual incidents to approximately 1,900 incidents in 2020. This improvement is partly due to the educational efforts of the Operation LifeSaver organization. Help spread the word to let your employees know how to stay safe around tracks and trains by participating in the annual Rail Safety Week, Sept. 20-26. Find educational materials from Operation Lifesaver’s free digital library of resources.Back to Top
Pete Mutschler, founding board member of ResponsibleAg, explains why he believed in the organization from the start. “Having an accredited audit system shows that you’re a good player in the neighborhood. We’re professional. We do this right,” says Mutschler.Back to Top
During an unannounced Brake Safety Day inspection in late July, inspectors removed 1,200+ commercial motor vehicles with critical brake violations from roadways. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) gathered data from 10,000+ vehicles checked during regular inspections. Despite the critical importance of brake systems on commercial motor vehicles, they continue to dominate vehicle out-of-service conditions. The Brake Safety Day brake-violation out-of-service rate in the U.S. was 13.3%. Inspectors also reported 1,725 brake hose or tubing violations.
This year, Brake Safety Week is Aug. 22-28. Last year, 12% of the 43,565 commercial motor vehicles inspected during Brake Safety Week were placed out of service for brake-related violations. To keep your drivers and others on the road safe, proactively check and service your company’s commercial motor vehicles to ensure they are safe, mechanically fit and compliant.
OSHA recently proposed more than $215,000 in penalties for one willful and six serious safety violations following its investigation at a Missouri grain-handling facility that experienced an explosion late last year. OSHA determined the company failed to equip bucket elevators with monitoring devices that notify workers when a belt is slipping, potentially causing friction that could ignite grain dust. OSHA standards require these devices at grain-handling facilities that store more than 1 million bushels. The agency also found the company:
Had the company addressed potential dust ignition sources, the explosion that seriously injured an employee and destroyed the main elevator might not have happened.
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.