Chemical exposure can cause serious and even fatal workplace injuries. Workers can be made very sick as a result of their exposure to chemicals on the job. An Atlanta work injury lawyer can provide assistance to those workers who fall ill due to chemicals they encounter while on the job. Chemicals can also cause more than just illness; explosions are a very real possibility.
A tragedy occurred in 2013 illustrating the devastation that can occur when a chemical plant has problems. The tragedy occurred when a fertilizer plant in West Texas exploded and 15 people were killed, including 12 first responders and 3 members of the public. Another 260 people were hurt, 150 buildings were destroyed and $230 million in damages was done by the explosion.
In response to this incident, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) amended its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations to try to prevent future incidents like the fatal explosion from happening again in the future. The EPA's amendment of is rule was a response to an executive order promulgated by President Obama to improve safety and security at chemical storage facilities.
New EPA Rule Aims to Prevent Atlanta Work Injuries Due to Chemical Exposure
The new EPA rule made three major changes in order to try to prevent injuries due to chemical releases, according to a report from Safety News Alert.
- Revising the accident prevention program: The new rule mandates that after a near-miss incident or after a catastrophic release of chemicals, certain regulated facilities must conduct a root cause analysis. Whenever a regulated facility has a reportable incident, it must enter into a contract with a third party who can perform a compliance audit. Some facilities are also be mandated to conduct an analysis to try to find safer technology alternatives.
- Enhancing emergency response requirements: The operators of certain facilities will be required under the new rules to coordinate at least once annually with emergency response agencies. The facility operators must alert the emergency response agencies to the types of regulated chemicals that are located onsite. Some regulated facilities would also be required to conduct tabletop and field exercises.
- Requiring additional information to be available and accessible. All facilities must provide basic information about chemical hazards in response to requests from the public. If there is a reportable incident, regulated facilities must also hold a public meeting for the community within 90 days of the time of the incident.
These new rules are important to protecting public safety, as more than 1,500 incidents were reported over the last 10-years by regulated facilities who are subject to the new requirements. More than 60 people were killed and 17,000 people hurt in the reported incidents. Hopefully, there will be far fewer tragedies of this nature in the future once chemical plants are required to do more safety audits and to coordinate more closely with first responders.