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Chemical safety executive order: Stakeholders react

August 13, 2013

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A presidential executive order has called for increased collaboration regarding chemical facility safety and security, and a review of OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standard, among other things. Several stakeholders have voiced support for the order, and here’s what they are saying:

“The destruction I personally saw there … was beyond imagination. The loss of life was horrible. It is my hope that this executive order will spur development of regulation and enforcement for the safe handling of ammonium nitrate and other gaps in the coverage of reactive hazards that the [Chemical Safety Board] has previously identified to help prevent future incidents.”

– Rafael Moure-Eraso, CSB chairperson, referencing the April fertilizer facility explosion in West, TX
“We applaud the president’s efforts to modernize agency policies in working with stakeholders to address risks, but that is only part of the solution. … To adequately respond to the dangers posed by chemical facilities and other dangerous workplaces, further federal regulatory action is needed.”

– Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health
“This directive brings leadership and direction that is urgently needed to improve chemical safety and security throughout the country.”

– Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO president
“It is time to modernize chemical facility safety and security regulations to improve performance and accountability by industry and to ensure that no facilities slip through the regulatory gaps. Ultimately these measures will save jobs, save lives, and improve both public health and the environment.”

– Carol Landry, United Steelworkers international vice president at large
“We support any initiatives that promise increased worker health and safety and look forward to working with OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency and CSB in a proposed rulemaking.”

– Barbara J. Dawson, American Industrial Hygiene Association president.
“Requiring OSHA, EPA and the Department of Homeland Security to lead an effort to improve coordination and work together to improve safety and security with a specific timeline of expectations is the best approach in addressing a significant threat to the American people.”

– Kathy A. Seabrook, American Society of Safety Engineers president
“President Obama’s executive order is a positive step to better protect the safety of workers employed in these facilities and those who live in the surrounding communities. The West, TX, explosion and other recent tragedies show us that there are regulatory gaps that need to be overcome to ensure that these facilities are operating in a safe manner.”

– Rep. George Miller (D-CA)
“The fertilizer industry is strongly committed to safe and secure handling and storage of ammonium nitrate and other fertilizers which play an essential role in agriculture and food production. We support the administration’s initiative to improve coordination among government agencies in this area and to re-examine existing regulations and practices.”

– The Fertilizer Institute
“There are a number of gaps in the current regulatory system that have allowed many avoidable industrial accidents to occur over the years. Today’s order is a step in the right direction to begin closing those gaps and to protect the health and safety of chemical facility workers, first responders, and the public.”

– Lee Anderson, senior policy and legislative advocate for the BlueGreen Alliance

The opinions expressed in "Washington Wire" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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