Ammonium Nitrate Regional Emphasis Program Launched in Seven States
The program begins Oct. 1 with a three-month period of education and prevention outreach to encourage employers to bring their facilities into compliance with OSHA standards. Enforcement activities will begin after the outreach period and will continue through Sept. 30, 2019, unless it is extended.
OSHA is launching a new Regional Emphasis program in seven states on Oct. 1 to address hazards from exposure to fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate (FGAN) and agricultural anhydrous ammonium. The program will be effective in the states of Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.
The agency notes that workers engaged in the storage, mixing/blending, and distribution of fertilizer can face hazards that can lead to serious injury, illness, and death, including fire and explosions, as well as exposure to toxic gases and hazardous chemicals. A recent example of the danger was the April 17, 2013, ammonium nitrate explosion at the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility in West, Texas, which killed 15 people.
"This program is an enforcement tool to emphasize the obligations under existing OSHA standards," said OSHA Regional Administrator Kimberly Stille in Kansas City, Mo. "The 90-day outreach period is an opportunity for employers to proactively seek compliance assistance to ensure they are adequately protecting workers."
The program begins Oct. 1 with a three-month period of education and prevention outreach to encourage employers to bring their facilities into compliance with OSHA standards. During the 90-day period, OSHA will continue to respond to complaints, referrals, hospitalizations, and fatalities. Enforcement activities will begin after the outreach period and will continue through Sept. 30, 2019, unless it is extended.
"The goal is to improve worker safety and reduce the potential for catastrophic incidents," said Eric Harbin, OSHA's Acting Regional Administrator in Dallas. "At the end of the day, we want to ensure workers go home safely to their families."
Information on hazards and control methods is available on OSHA's Fertilizer Industry Guidance on Storage and Use of Ammonium Nitrate webpage.