OSHA Launches Campaign Against Refineries' Chemical Releases

Criticized by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazardous Investigation Board for doing too little to police process industries, in particular petroleum refineries, OSHA on June 12 announced it has begun a National Emphasis Program to eliminate hazards related to releases of highly hazardous chemicals at petroleum refineries. The CSB's criticism followed a lengthy investigation of the BP refinery explosion in Texas City, Texas, in March 2005.

"OSHA remains committed to enhancing the safety and health of America’s men and women working in the refining industry," said OSHA chief Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "By initiating this program, we are taking positive steps to maximize the protection of employees and eliminate workplace hazards at petroleum refineries." OSHA said it will conduct 81 inspections during the next two years. "However, the program is just one of multiple significant enforcement projects in the oil, gas and refining industries on which OSHA is working," the agency's news release added.

The National Emphasis Program offers guidance to OSHA national, regional, and area offices, as well as states that choose to implement similar programs. The directive is available at www.osha.gov/OshDoc/Directive_pdf/CPL_03-00-004.pdf.

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