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Chemical | Federal agencies | Safety measurement systems

Obama executive order: Improve chemical facility safety

August 1, 2013

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Washington – President Barack Obama issued an executive order on Aug. 1 directing the federal government to improve chemical safety and security in light of recent tragedies.

Within 90 days of the order, the Department of Labor and the Environmental Protection Agency must review chemical hazards covered by OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standard and EPA’s Risk Management Plan to determine whether those rules should be expanded to address other substances or hazards.

“Incidents such as the devastating explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, TX, in April are tragic reminders that the handling and storage of chemicals present serious risks that must be addressed,” a statement from the White House said. “We can take some common steps now to improve safety and security and build on federal agencies’ ongoing work to reduce the risks associated with hazardous chemicals.”

The order comes a week after the Chemical Safety Board designated OSHA’s response to the board’s recommendations regarding chemical safety as “unacceptable.”

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health applauded the executive order but called for further action, including increasing OSHA funding and having the agency take up CSB’s recommendations to enhance and expand the PSM standard.