Agrichemical Warehousing Standards

The Need for Warehousing Standards

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 1,300 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.

Since implementation warehouse fires have decreased by more that 90%.

For more details about the scope of the AWSA Warehousing Standards click here

Protection People and the Environment

The AWSA Certified Warehousing Standards are designed to address and manage no fewer than 11 major areas of potential risk. The view the Audit Protocols click here.

To address these potential risk areas, the Standards have three primary components:

  • Construction and structural requirements
  • Employee training
  • Documentation

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.

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.

Integrity Through Compliance and Enforcement

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.

Re-audit Cycle

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.

Effective Comprehensive Standards

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.