CSB’s New Safety Improvement Program

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has formally announced that “Emergency Planning and Response” is the Board’s newest “Most Wanted Safety Improvement”, concluding that inadequate or poor emergency planning or response is a recurring finding in the CSB’s investigations.

CSB Board Member Manuel “Manny” Ehrlich – who will serve as the champion for this issue with support from the board members – said, “As a 50-year veteran of the chemical industry I know far too well the importance of a robust emergency response program. I have responded to and investigated numerous chemical incidents in my career and look forward to sharing the important safety information in CSB reports and safety videos. ”

To date, 12 CSB investigations and 46 resulting recommendations are aimed to address deficiencies found in a community’s, facility’s or emergency responder’s response to an incident at a chemical facility.

The CSB’s recommendations department determined that the majority of CSB’s recommendations on this issue can be categorized in the following areas:

·       Training for emergency responders, including hazardous materials training;

·       Local emergency planning, and community response plans and teams;

·       Use of community notification systems;

·       Use of an incident command system and the National Incident Management System;

·       Conducting emergency response exercises; and

·       Information sharing between facilities, emergency responders, and the community.

The CSB’s history of examining emergency response issues spans well over a decade.  In 2009 the CSB released a safety video detailing a number of related issues and recommendations

Despite the CSB’s many recommendations, emergency responders continue to be fatally injured due to poor emergency planning or response. Most recently 12  emergency responders were fatally injured as a result of the 2013 ammonium nitrate explosion and fire at the West Fertilizer Company located in West, Texas.

The CSB’s final report contained a number of recommendations intended to improve the training of volunteer fire departments across the country.