Farm fertilizer retailers in Iowa and nationwide were spared expensive new OHSA regulations by Congressional action in the big budget bill that was passed last week.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the bill included a rider that blocked OSHA from implementing new safety rules on all retailers that sell anhydrous ammonia. Compliance could have cost some retailers up to 60,000 and forced many of them to stop selling the popular fertilizer.
Grassley says, “That would’ve applied to great big facilities right now but it got down to a point where it would apply to your local coop and drive up the cost of operating, the cost of product, all that sort of stuff.” The proposed rules from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were sparked by an explosion in 2013 at a fertilizer storage and distribution facility in Texas that killed 15 people and injured more than 160.
“That was a great big facility and it would’ve applied changes of rules to apply to them,” Grassley says. “It would have affected every small retailer around the country.” Officials with the Ag Retailers Association called OSHA a “runaway federal agency” due to the new safety rules it wanted to enforce.
Grassley says the regulations OSHA demanded were simply too restrictive and too expensive. “It just figured that the safety effects weren’t as realistic to challenge, that a regulation was justified,” Grassley says, “and that’s why it was stalled.”
Under the legislation, the ban on OSHA requiring higher safety rules for anhydrous retailers lasts until the end of calendar year 2016.