The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) entered into an alliance with Fertilizer Safety and Health Partners and the Environmental Protection Agency to provide safety and health information and training resources to workers, emergency responders and communities surrounding establishments in the agricultural retail and supply industry.
The alliance will focus on the safe storage and handling of fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia.
“Incidents such as the horrific explosion at the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas, that killed 15 people including emergency response personnel, highlight the hazards in storing and handling ammonium nitrate,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “These tragedies are preventable and we need to work together to address hazards, prevent injuries and save lives.”
The alliance emphasizes sharing emergency response information among agricultural business establishments, first responders and surrounding communities; as well as improving the safety and security of chemical facilities, reducing the risks of hazardous chemicals to workers and communities, educating workers on their rights and ensuring that employers understand their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Goals for outreach and communication are to:
• Develop products, including fact sheets and case studies, focusing on the leading causes of injuries and fatalities in the agricultural retail industry.
• Distribute Alliance and OSHA/EPA materials in English/Spanish to employers and workers, and to the surrounding communities.
• Invite OSHA and EPA representatives to speak, exhibit, or appear at Fertilizer Safety and Health Partner conferences, local meetings and other agricultural safety and emergency response planning events as needed.
• Conduct best practices seminars/webinars on effective emergency response procedures between volunteer firefighters and industry partners.
• Conduct pilot training program focusing on an overview and introduction of the agricultural retail and supply industry for OSHA and EPA staff.
• Provide recommendations for agricultural retailers and suppliers focusing on fertilizer research and best practices.
• Promote the OSHA On-site Consultation Program, and EPA Programs to Fertilizer Safety and Health Partners’ members, and others.