US chems, refiners in new federal safety alliance

23 January 2008 21:57  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US process industries have entered a new cooperation agreement with federal worker safety regulators to help avert catastrophic events such as the 2005 fatal BP refinery blast, officials said on Wednesday.


The Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA) and other chemical trade groups have signed an agreement with the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to establish the OSHA Process Safety Alliance, the association said.


The alliance will leverage the resources of several chemical and refining industry trade groups along with the administration to help improve process safety and standards to prevent injuries and fatalities at industry work sites.


The new alliance expands and redirects an earlier chemical industry joint effort with OSHA that was more narrowly focused on chemical reactive hazards.  That joint effort concluded in early 2007.


“The alliance with work with OSHA to provide the public and [trade] organizations’ members with information, guidance and access to training resources in the field of process safety,” SOCMA spokesman Greg Minchak said on Wednesday.


The information, guidance and training will include the earlier focus of chemical reactivity hazards, Minchak said.


While the earlier cooperative agreement was made up chiefly of chemical sector representatives, the new alliance includes refining industry members, such as the National Petrochemical & Refining Association (NPRA) and the American Petroleum Institute (API).


NPRA spokesman Bill Holbrook said his trade group is “very pleased to be an active member of the alliance” because the group's member firms "take the safety of their employees and surrounding communities extremely seriously".


The new process safety alliance grew out of a March 2007 meeting in Houston, Texas, among some 25 refining and chemical industry representatives who were motivated in part by the March 2005 refinery explosion at the BP Texas City, Texas, facility that killed 15 workers and injured 180 others.


The alliance members are expected to meet quarterly, and the first meeting is likely in February, according to SOCMA.

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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