Report examines safety in oil-refining industry

Berkeley, CA – Refinery workers should have more involvement and decision-making power regarding safety matters, concludes a new report (.pdf file) released March 27 by the University of California, Berkeley.

Drawing from meetings with labor, trade groups and government agencies, the report provides recommendations to improve worker and community safety, including restructuring management so workers have more authority in safety decisions and having the industry track leading, lagging and near-miss performance indicators.

The report also determined that refinery safety may be compromised by widespread use of contract workers, who often lack training, safety commitment and the willingness to speak up about safety. To address this, the report advises California to require refineries to annually report the size and training level of their contract workforce.

The report was prepared by UC Berkeley’s Labor Occupational Health Program at the request of the California Governor’s Interagency Task Force on Refinery Safety. Although the focus is California refineries, the findings can be applied to other high-hazard industries, the report states.

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