The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has issued a new safety digest on the value of worker participation to prevent chemical incidents.
The digest notes that lack of worker participation was a factor in several major incidents investigated by the CSB because workers and their representatives were not engaged to help identify hazards and reduce risks.
CSB Board Member Rick Engler said, “Worker engagement is key to an effective process safety program. After all, it’s employees who are so often in direct contact with the hazards — and have the experience and knowledge to help prevent them.”
The digest discusses four incidents that led to a total of 13 employee deaths, many injuries, and, in one case, 15,000 residents living near the facility seeking medical evaluation.
The incidents took place at an explosives manufacturing site, a chemical production facility, and two oil refineries. They occurred in Nevada, Washington, California, and Louisiana.
Each of these CSB investigations found that worker participation programs were inadequate, despite the existence of federal regulations and industry standards.
CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical incidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.