Protecting People and the Environment
The Agrichemical Warehousing Standards Association (AWSA) has become the largest self-regulated initiative in Canada. It all started 20 years ago with a commitment to protect people and the environment by establishing and enforcing mandatory agrichemical warehouse storage standards.
Integrity, Compliance and Enforcement
AWSA has been successful because it creates industry best practice through the issuing of standards, enforces a “no-certification – no ship” policy, establishes a strict audit program and provides the resources necessary to help agrichemical warehouses, manufacturers, distributors and their employees to minimize risks associated with storage of agrichemicals.
Over the past 20 years, AWSA standards have helped engage stakeholders and train employees who take pride in agrichemical stewardship to create a safer workplace and address safety concerns in a proactive manner.
The incidence of warehouse fires in Canada has been reduced by over 90% since standards were implemented in 1995.
Today, operators of almost 1,400 warehouses, their staff and 24 trained auditors maintain a philosophy of “continuous improvement.” They work to reduce the risk of fires, spills, industrial accidents and provide assurances that crop protection products are being stored and distributed safely.
AWSA audits are conducted every two years; standards are reviewed periodically and upgraded every five years.
Insurance rates also reflect the value of AWSA standards. Environmental pollution insurance rates for AWSA compliant facilities have been reduced by 50% since program inception.
AWSA Standards Make a Difference
Communicating With Your Community
Merle Hogey, Brussels Agromart Owner & Operator, Ontario
“The AWSA program puts everybody on the same playing field. We all had to come up to those standards for manufacturers to ship product to us. If you don’t meet the standards you don’t get product shipped to you and that’s right across Canada.
“It’s very important that AWSA is industry led. With AWSA we know what’s required and what can be done to make it work. We’re bringing standards to quite a high level and to me it’s very important that we run it ourselves because we take ownership at the industry level.
“AWSA standards really opened the channels of communications for Brussels Agromart. It brought us very close to the fire department within our community. With AWSA standards come protocols and part of the protocols was having the fire department come in and do fire drills and table talk discussions. The community itself becomes more aware of how your business operates and what you are doing to meet the standards from a safety point of view. That’s good for the community, fire department and our business. The firemen really appreciate it. If there is a fire, firemen need to understand the situation.”
Raising the Bar on Safety
Sébastien Chénard, La Coop fédérée Directeur Protection des cultures Secteur des productions végétales, Quebec.
“We’ve been eight consecutive years without any employee injuries at our crop protection warehouses. We have an excellent relationship with the municipality and the fire department and that makes their intervention easier in case of an emergency.”
“Responsibility is one of our main cooperative values, which is why we are adhering to the goals of sustainable development. La Coop fédérée is determined to protect its employees with security standards as well as using environmentally friendly practices. We recognize that we manipulate products that could be harmful to people’s health and to the environment if not treated properly and that’s why we make sure to handle them responsibly.”
“With time and busy schedules, it could be easy to forget some procedures. The AWSA auditing keeps us informed and up to date with the security standards. Once you’ve obtained the standard, only a few hours are necessary to maintain the level. So we definitely consider that the benefits are worth very effort”.
Playing by the Rules
Darren Fawns, Crop Protection Services Manager Operations Compliance, Alberta
“AWSA standards are important to CPS because they ensure we’re abiding by the regulations and taking the steps necessary to ensure our facilities are safe. Protecting people, the environment and business is very important. We want our people and our customers to feel safe at our facilities.”
“It’s important that the industry sets AWSA standards because everyone has to abide by them. You basically can’t sell product unless you have an AWSA certified warehouse to store it in and that helps make it an even playing field.”