NSC Business and Industry Division news NSC Labor Division news Federal agencies Manufacturing Leadership Manufacturing

Chemical Safety Board delivers update on activities


Washington — Despite being short-staffed, the Chemical Safety Board is “working hard to rebuild and revitalize” the agency, CSB Chair Steve Owens said at an April 27 public business meeting.

Owens highlighted several efforts, including filling staffing vacancies, progress on its investigative backlog and issuing safety alerts – the most recent covering emergency discharges from pressure release valves.

CSB intends to clear its backlog of investigations by the end of the calendar year, Owens said. After issuing an investigation report on an August 2020 chemical release and fire in Westlake, LA, CSB has closed 87% of its investigations as of April 24, the agency website shows.

During the meeting, Steve Klejst, agency executive director of investigations and recommendations, said CSB is “in the final stages of the onboarding process” to hire three chemical incident investigators and a supervisor. He added that further investigator recruitment is ongoing for positions to support the agency’s program on accidental release reporting.

The meeting marked the first since Catherine J.K. Sandoval was sworn in for a five-year term. By joining Owens and CSB member Sylvia Johnson, Sandoval returned a quorum to the agency. “Kathy has stepped into that role and done it very nicely,” Johnson said.

Among Sandoval’s early duties: speaking during a virtual conference examining artificial intelligence and its potential impact on safety in the industry.

Sandoval said one trend the agency continues to monitor involves what she calls “undersensoring” – when a lack of sensors at a facility contributes to incidents.