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Grassley sends letter to labor department regarding anhydrous ammonia rule

OSHA and labor department’s change in interpretation of a safety rule could cost anhydrous ammonia retailers thousands.

The safety rule interpretation comes after the massive 2013 explosion of a fertilizer plant West, Texas. Previously the labor department and OSHA’s interpretation of this safety rule exempted retail sellers of anhydrous ammonia. The new interpretation eliminates the exemption.

Senator Chuck Grassley said there’s a high cost that comes with this change.

“The new interpretation eliminates the exemption. It could force thousands of anhydrous retailers to spend $30,000 to come into compliance with the new requirement. My letter requests more information as to how the labor department came to the conclusion that the retail exemption should be eliminated,” Grassley said.

Grassley said high costs makes things difficult for retailers.

“With anhydrous ammonia being a seasonal occurrence, it will be difficult for small retailers who supply farmers to absorb the cost of $30,000. Consequently, some may be forced to stop selling anhydrous ammonia,” Grassley said.

He said any retailers who do stay in business will pass the cost onto the farmers.

“Safety measures are very important and should be a top priority. But eliminating the retail exemption maybe a knee jerk reaction to a granular form of nitrogen which is very different than what is used by farmers,” Grassley said. Grassley said again this letter explaining his concerns about the OSHA safety rule addresses anhydrous ammonia retailers.