CSB aims to preventing industrial chemical accidents

The safety of industrial workers is a primary concern of federal and state authorities, including those in Pennsylvania. Among the federal regulatory agencies that are responsible for enforcing safety in workplaces are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environment Protection Agency. Both of these agencies enforce regulations that have been enacted to help prevent industrial and workplace accidents.

Some independent non-regulatory federal agencies can also investigate industrial accidents anywhere in the country. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is one such federal agency; it looks at the root causes of chemical accidents in fixed industrial plants.

After arriving at a chemical accident site, CSB investigators interview witnesses, examine operating procedures and look at possible deficiencies in any existing safety systems to determine the causes of an accident. Investigators also look at factors that could have prevented the accident and whether an unsafe working environment exists in the workplace or plant that could injure or kill workers. After they have finished, they make recommendations to OSHA, EPA, labor groups and industry organizations.

The entire investigation process takes 6 to 12 months. After recommendations are made, the CSB tracks and monitors to see if they are implemented. Investigations are closed only after the CSB is convinced that necessary actions have been satisfactorily completed. The CSB also investigates other chemical accident hazards as a preventive measure. Based on CSB's review of 150 chemical accidents and subsequent recommendations, OSHA and EPA both made regulatory changes.

Any worker who is injured in an on-the-job accident or who becomes permanently disabled from a workplace accident or industrial accident has the legal right to seek compensation from any responsible party or parties. Because the process of seeking workers compensation or filing a lawsuit can be highly complex, many people find it useful to get more information about their options.

Source: CSB.gov, "About the CSB," Accessed on Dec. 11, 2014

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