Congress Halts OSHA Overreach

Kelly MarshallAgribusiness, ARA, Government

aralogoIn July the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent a memorandum to end the exemption of retail stores to the Process Safety Management (PSM).  PSM is a set of procedural, operational and organizational standards to intended to prevent the release of hazardous chemicals at manufacturing facilities.  The rescinding of this exemption would force virtually all ag retailers that store and sell anhydrous ammonia to comply with PSM.

Congress has halted this process as the memo was released without opportunity for public comment and avoided the formal rule making process.

“OSHA is misguided in trying to apply PSM to ag retailers,” said Harold Cooper, ARA Chairman and CEO of Premier Ag Cooperative in Columbus, Ind. “OSHA intentionally exempted ag retailers from PSM since the rule’s inception in 1992. Forcing us to comply with regulations aimed at manufacturers would cost my business at least $60,000, and not provide any improvement in worker safety – just more bureaucratic red tape.”

Congress included the override actions in the recently passed appropriations bill, prohibiting OSHA from enforcing the memo in 2016 until a new North American Industry Classification System code for Farm Supply Retailers can be established.  It also stipulates that OSHA must conduct a formal rule making process to guide any changes.

“This bill puts a stop sign in front of a runaway agency,” said ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock. “Congress blocked OSHA’s imprudent attempt to require ag retailers to comply with a regulation that doesn’t fit our industry. We are willing to work with the Administration to develop targeted, common-sense regulations to improve safety and security at agricultural retail facilities and surrounding communities.”

Agriculture Retailers Association (ARA) spearheaded a grassroots effort – involving several national and state agribusiness associations and ARA members – to reverse OSHA’s rule change. ARA appreciates the bipartisan, bicameral support from House and Senate Appropriators and leadership, who were instrumental in including the language in the bill.