The explosion in West, Texas, prompted President Obama

OSHA Partners with Agricultural Retailers Association, Fertilizer Institute

The agency hopes to get the message out about chemical safety in the fertilizer industry.

OSHA has partnered with the Agricultural Retailers Association and The Fertilizer Institute in order to form a coalition aimed at educating those in the fertilizer industry about chemical safety. According to a press release from OSHA, the partnership hopes to reach more than 7,000 people, a number that includes everything from distributors to producers and agricultural retailers.

The partnership aims to educate those in the industry on the importance of chemical safety, in particular the need to safely store and handle ammonium nitrate. The trade associations plan to distribute a letter from the assistant secretary of labor for occupational health and safety, Dr. David Michaels, to parties involved in the fertilizer industry across the country.

The initiative comes in the wake of the West, Texas, ammonium nitrate explosion that killed 15 people. Following the explosion, West Fertilizer Company was cited for 24 serious violations by OSHA for allegedly exposing workers to fire and explosion hazards associated with ammonium nitrate, as well as inhalation hazards from anhydrous ammonia storage. After the explosion, the president issued Executive Order 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security, which directed several federal agencies to take actions in order to prevent such disasters from happening again.

In the letter set to go out, Michaels writes, "The tragedy in West, Texas, and other incidents underscore the need for employers who store and handle hazardous substances like ammonium nitrate to ensure the safety of those materials – not just for workers at the facility but for the lives and safety of emergency responders and nearby residents. I am calling on you today to take the necessary steps to prevent tragic ammonium nitrate incidents."

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