The Need for Warehousing Standards | Protection People and the Environment | Integrity Through Compliance and Enforcement | Re-audit Cycle | Effective Comprehensive Standards | Ammonia Code of Practice (NH3)
In Canada pesticides are stored for sale by a dealer network comprising independent dealers and local representatives of larger multi-branch retail organizations. Today, pesticides are warehoused in approximately 1,400 facilities nationwide.
During the 1980s, isolated incidents of fires and spills occurred at warehouses used to store crop protection products. While pesticides were not the cause of these incidents, these occurrences raised safety and environmental concerns among industry personnel and the general public.
The development of the Agrichemical Warehousing Standards Association Certified Warehousing Standards represents a united and co-operative effort by the crop protection industry to safeguard the future. It is a proactive industry initiative designed to minimize the risks of chemical warehousing to employees, the public and the environment. The Standards also serve as a blueprint for governments planning to update their warehousing legislation.
The AWSA Certified Warehousing Standards are designed to address and manage no fewer than 11 major areas of potential risk:
- Spills (minor or major)
- Personal injury
- Occupational health
- Personnel training
- Mechanical equipment safety
- Shipping and receiving design safety
- Adequate lighting
- Sources of ignition for flammable liquids
To address these potential risk areas, the Standards have three primary components:
- Construction and structural requirements
- Employee training
Structural requirements incorporate the National Fire Code, National Building Code and Canadian Electrical Code, established standards that must already be met by agrichemical dealers. In addition, if provincial or municipal governments have more rigorous codes, bylaws, regulations or legislation, then these standards would supersede the AWSA’s Warehousing Standards.
As an example of how the Standards address possible concerns, new pesticide storage facilities cannot be built near homes, schools, hospitals or other highly populated areas. Precautions such as dyking and containment must be taken to prevent potential contamination of environmentally sensitive areas. Fire monitoring must be provided on a 24-hour basis.
In addition, warning and emergency signs must be clearly posted at all storage facilities. For flammable and combustible products, special storage precautions must be provided. Every warehouse employee must be trained in the safe handling of pesticide products, first aid and emergency procedures. Emergency response planning for each storage facility is mandatory.
While there is no guarantee that a fire or other mishap will not occur, the Standards go a long way towards eliminating such incidents at the source and minimizing the risks should a problem arise.
In 1991 the Crop Protection Institute published an open letter to all warehouse operators and retailers of crop protection products. The purpose of the letter was to emphasize not only the Institute’s commitment to the Warehouse Standards, but also the resolve of its members to enforce those Standards.
Signed by the Institute’s Board of Directors, the letter expressed the Board’s support of a “No Certification/No Ship” clause in the manufacturers’ distribution agreements. This means simply that crop protection products will not be shipped to distributors or retailers unless they have complied fully with the Standards by the date required.
To ensure compliance, the AWSA has established a process for strict enforcement of the Standards involving follow-up visits to the site and withdrawal of certification for facilities not meeting the Standards.
To ensure that improvements are real and continuous, the audit process is ongoing. Following initial AWSA certification, retailers and warehouse facilities must be re-audited every two years. This provision is to make certain that employee training and documentation remain current and that any structural changes comply fully with the Standards. The Standards are also reviewed and updated every two years.
The AWSA Warehousing Standards represent over a decade of effort from members of the Crop Protection Institute, provincial governments and industry stakeholders at all levels of distribution. Both compliance and certification are based on an inspection conducted by an independent auditor.The process involves the coordination of many aspects of the Standards Certification Program, including auditor training and management, quality control, technical assistance, compliance tracking and maintaining a database for certification.
Anhydrous ammonia (NH3) is a highly effective fertilizer used by farmers across the country, but it can also be dangerous if it is not handled properly. To address these risks the Ammonia Code of Practice, launched by the Fertilizer Safety & Security Council, has set requirements for distribution, storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia.
The Ammonia Code of Practice applies to all agri-retail facilities in Canada that store or retail anhydrous ammonia. Agri-retail sites in Canada and must be fully compliant with the standards outlined in the Ammonia Code of Practice. The Code applies to the agricultural ammonia industry including, road and rail transportation, storage and handling of product, on-farm end use and outlines best practices applicable to the distribution, storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia to ensure safety and security. The Code was drafted by members of the Fertilizer Safety and Security Council, including fertilizer distributors, and agri-retailers.
Third party audits are required to be compliant with the Ammonia Code of Practice. AWSA is pleased to partner with Fertilizer Safety & Security Council as the exclusive Code auditing provider. AWSA’s experience in managing other similar programs coupled with AWSA’s trained auditors creates an excellent partnership. Ammonia Code of Practice