OSHA issues a new program to prevent chemical-related workplace hazards ... more safety inspections to follow

Effective July 8, 2010, a new directive by OSHA will assist enforcement personnel in carrying out a National Emphasis Program to eliminate workplace accidents associated with the catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals. The PSM Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program will include programmed inspections in three regions:

• Region I – Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island
• Region VII – Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri
• Region X – Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Idaho

Unprogrammed inspections will be conducted in seven other OSHA regions, as well.

(Basically, programmed inspections are based on “objective or neutral” criteria, while unprogrammed inspections are in response to “alleged hazardous working conditions that have been identified at a specific worksite.”)

The new directive will focus primarily on chemical processing facilities, refineries, and water and/or wastewater treatment facilities. More than 15,000 facilities nationwide could face inspections as a result.

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