Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Could New Rules Prevent Uncontrolled Reactions? (Reactive Chemicals)

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Could New Rules Prevent Uncontrolled Reactions? (Reactive Chemicals)

Article excerpt

This is one of the biggest questions confronting the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) after the agency's investigators unveiled the findings of a two-year study into reactive chemical incidents.

In a May 30 public meeting in Paterson, N.J., CSB investigators announced they have identified 167 significant reactive chemical incidents since 1980 that caused 108 deaths to workers and the public. More than half the incidents involved chemicals not covered by OSHA's Process Safety Management (PSM) standard or EPA's Risk Management Program.

In addition to the report from its investigators, board members also heard from representatives of organized labor and public interest groups that support tougher reactive chemical rules. Don Connelly of Akzo Nobel, representing the American Chemistry Council, said voluntary guidance and better training were the "best ways to minimize chemical reactivity incidents." Connelly added he would be prepared to consider a regulatory performance-based program in the future.

In an interview after the meeting, board member Gerald Poje said the CSB had not reached consensus on how to respond to its staff report. …

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