Emergency Preparedness and Response

No one wants it to happen, but an emergency, natural or manmade, can strike at anytime, 24/7. What’s more, it need not be a major, nationally-televised incident, such as a hurricane, earthquake, or act of political terror. An event as common as a local building fire can present just as large a challenge to you. These resources will help you create a plan for handling such crises, whatever their scope, and to carry it out in a way that best protects your employees and your company.

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CSB’s Most Wanted Safety Improvements: Emergency Planning and Response

On April 17, 2013, a 60-ton stockpile of fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate (FGAN) exploded at the West Fertilizer Company (WFC) in the middle of downtown West, Texas. The fire and explosion killed 15 people—12 twelve emergency responders and 3 members of the community—caused injuries to 260 more people who required medical treatment, and damaged more than 150 buildings off-site. One of the key recommendations to come out of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board’s (CSB) investigation of the incident is to improve emergency planning and response capabilities.

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Preparedness is Prevention: Emergency Preparedness Could Have Prevented These Injuries

When a 900-gallon melt tank containing hexane and ethanol overpressurized and exploded in December 2015 at a food additive manufacturing facility in Newark, Ohio, owned by Arboris®, LLC, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) faulted the employer’s process safety management (PSM) for failing to prevent the explosion. But even when the fireball erupted, the injuries suffered by four employees were not necessarily inevitable. With better emergency preparedness, OSHA concluded, the employer could have prevented or minimized the workers’ injuries.

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Preparedness is Prevention: Six More Ways Process Safety Management Could Have Prevented This Fire

At the Arboris® plant in Newark, Ohio, workers were adding hexane to a process that produced sterols—a natural compound produced by pine trees—for use in foods such as spreads, bread, milk, and yogurt. Unfortunately, the employer’s process safety management (PSM) program failed at many points to identify and correct potentially disastrous issues with the process. As a result, a tank at the facility overpressurized and exploded, injuring four workers.

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Preparedness is Prevention: Four Ways Process Safety Management Could Have Prevented This Fire

Is an ounce of prevention really more effective than a pound of cure? According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), that’s certainly the case for Arboris®, LLC, a food additive manufacturing facility in Newark, Ohio. A 900-gallon melt tank at the facility containing hexane and ethanol overpressurized and exploded in December 2015. The resulting fireball injured four workers, including two contractors.

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Are You Ready for Anything? Three Questions to Ask After a Spill

What happens if there’s a chemical leak or spill in your workplace? Are your workers ready to contain it? Workers at Nestlé’s Willy Wonka candy manufacturing plant in Itasca, Illinois were quick to react to a lithium chloride spill, containing the 5-gallon mishap. Unfortunately, containing the spilled liquid didn’t eliminate the hazard to workers—just a few hours after the spill, workers complained of respiratory symptoms. Emergency responders treated 17 workers and transported 11 to the hospital, where they were treated and released.

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Are You Ready for Anything? Three Action Items to Check Your Emergency Preparedness

What’s your worst-case scenario? Fire? Explosion? Flood? If you’re just thinking of the disaster itself, you’re not thinking broadly enough: the true worst-case scenario is a disaster for which your facility and your workers are completely unprepared.

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Providing Light When All Other Lights Have Gone Out

When there’s an emergency in the workplace, workers need to get out quickly. Unfortunately, some types of emergencies may involve power failures and a loss of interior and exterior illumination; or, the building may fill with smoke, obscuring ordinary illumination. In either case, emergency lighting is critical to your workers.

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OSHA Warns of Flood Cleanup Hazards in West Virginia

In the wake of severe flooding in West Virginia, OSHA announced that it is providing assistance to the three hardest-hit counties of Kanawha, Greenbriar, and Nicholas, which President Obama declared to be federal disaster areas. The agency will provide compliance assistance in these areas to ensure that workers engaged in flood cleanup efforts are protected from hazards.

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Shine a Light on Lighting Hazards

Unless they’re working in complete darkness, workers may not pay too much attention to lighting in the workplace. But poor lighting can contribute to accidents whether workers notice it or not. Here’s some advice on lighting the workplace for safety. The good news is that poor lighting is usually an easy fix that enhances safety in critical ways.

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Lightning: Can You Judge the Danger by Counting the Seconds?

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), about 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur each year in the United States. More than 400 people are struck by lightning every year; about 70 die, while others are left with permanent neurological damage.

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