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GLIN==> Chemical Safety Board critical of OSHA on reactive chemical hazards

The following message is from the United States Chemical Safety and Hazard 
Investigation Board, Washington D.C.

CSB Board Declares OSHA Response to Reactives Regulation Recommendation 

Washington, DC, Feb. 5, 2004--The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard 
Investigation Board (CSB) has formally notified the Occupational Safety and 
Health Administration (OSHA) that it finds “unacceptable” OSHA’s response 
to CSB recommendations to broaden the regulation of reactive chemicals in 
the workplace and to compile data on reactive chemical accidents.

In a letter to John Henshaw, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, CSB 
Chairman Carolyn Merritt said the Board voted unanimously on Feb. 2, 2004, 
to designate OSHA’s response as “Open ­ Unacceptable Response.” By 
designating the recommendations “open,” the Board indicated it will 
continue to seek action from OSHA on the requested actions. Chairman 
Merritt said the Board was “disappointed” that OSHA had given no indication 
when it might make a decision on moving forward to extend coverage of 

Specifically, the CSB asked OSHA to amend what is called the Process Safety 
Management Standard (PSM) to achieve more comprehensive control of reactive 
hazards that have caused numerous catastrophic incidents and killed scores 
of workers over the past two decades.

In the letter to Secretary Henshaw, Chairman Merritt wrote, “While the 
Board commends OSHA on increased outreach efforts designed ‘to heighten 
awareness of hazards associated with reactivity,’ Board members continue to 
believe that the evidence compiled by the CSB’s investigation strongly 
indicates that a revision of the standard is necessary.”

The Board voted in Oct. 2002 to make the recommendation to OSHA, which is 
required by law to formally respond to the CSB. The recommendation followed 
the release of a two-year CSB hazard investigation entitled “Improving 
Reactive Chemical Management.” The study called reactive chemical accidents 
a “significant chemical safety problem” that are responsible for continuing 
deaths, injuries and environmental property damage nationwide. The study 
focused on 167 serious accidents over 20 years, which caused 108 fatalities 
and hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage.

Reactive hazards exist when a single chemical or a mixture has the 
potential to undergo a violent, uncontrolled reaction when improperly 
processed or combined. The chemical reactions can release large quantities 
of heat, energy and gases, causing fires, explosions or toxic emissions. 
Reactive chemicals and mixtures often appear harmless until exposed to 
specific processing or storage conditions, such as elevated temperature.

The CSB also categorized OSHA’s refusal to develop a reactive incident 
database as “unacceptable.” Chairman Merritt wrote, “The Board would like 
to clarify that the recommendation only asks OSHA to track data from 
incidents that OSHA investigates or requires to be investigated under 
current OSHA regulations.”

The CSB Chairman expressed hope the recommendations would ultimately be 
adopted. She wrote, “The Board’s goal is that all our recommendations be 
acceptably implemented. We would like to work with you in moving toward an 
acceptable outcome and we will reconsider the status of these 
recommendations upon timely follow-up responses.”

Since 1998, the CSB has investigated a number of significant reactive 
chemical incidents that caused deaths, injuries and major property loss. 
These include the 1998 runaway chemical reaction and explosion at Morton 
International in Paterson, NJ, which injured nine workers and led to CSB’s 
special investigation on reactive hazards. Among the others were: Kaltech 
Industries in New York City, First Chemical in Pascagoula, MS, 
Environmental Enterprises in Cincinnati, OH, Georgia Pacific in Pennington, 
AL, Catalyst Systems in Gnadenhutten, OH, BP Amoco in Augusta, GA, Technic 
Inc. in Cranston, RI, Avery Dennison in Mill Hall, PA, Concept Sciences in 
Allentown, PA, Condea Vista in Baltimore, MD, and Isotec in Miamisburg, OH. 
(Information on these incidents is available at www.CSB.gov.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating 
industrial chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by 
the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all 
aspects of such events, including physical causes such as equipment failure 
as well as inadequacies in safety management systems. Typically, the 
investigations involve extensive witness interviews, examination of 
physical evidence, and chemical and forensic testing. The Board does not 
issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, 
industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA 
and EPA. The Board designates formal responses to its recommendations as 
acceptable or unacceptable, open or closed. Further information about the 
CSB is available from www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact Daniel Horowitz, 202-261-7613 / 202-441-6074 
(cell) or Sandy Gilmour Communications, 202-261-7614 / 202-251-5496 (cell).

This message was transmitted at 12:01 PM Eastern Time (U.S.A.) on February 
5, 2004.

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
Prospectus at:  http://www.sagady.com/sagady.pdf

PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com

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