Yesterday we looked at some of the problems that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identified during the inspection of a United States Postal Service (USPS) facility in St. Louis, where a minor fire could have turned major after workers went through five fire extinguishers before they located one that worked. As is often the case, where there was one problem, OSHA found other, related problems as well—issuing four citations and proposing more than $87,000 in fines.
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.
Free Special Report: 50 Tips for More Effective Safety Training
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, the focus is generally on securing the scene and helping any injured workers, as it should be. But workers who witness the death of a coworker, come to the aid of injured coworkers, or clean up after an accident may find the incident traumatic, too—a response called “critical incident stress.” Some individuals can also develop long-term effects, known as post-traumatic stress.
As a hazardous waste generator, are you prepared in the event of an emergency? Does your facility have a “contingency plan”? Both large quantity generators (LQGs) of hazardous waste and small quantity generators (SQGs) of hazardous waste must comply with certain specific emergency preparedness and prevention procedures. These procedures involve use of response equipment and personnel in the event of a fire, explosion, or release. While LQGs must have a “contingency plan” in place, SQGs must have at least one emergency coordinator employed at all times.
The EPA has issued its first biannual update of its work on a proposal for a final rule that would subject facilities holding hazardous substances to the same requirements applying to facilities holding threshold amounts of oil. The update indicates that the proposal is still in its early stages, and therefore, any views on what form a final rule will take would be premature. Hazardous substances differ from oil in many ways, including how they are handled, what they are intended to accomplish, how an accidental spill affects the public and the environment, and how such a spill is best controlled. However, given that any final action will be promulgated under the same section (indeed, the same phrase) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) that is the basis for EPA’s oil Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) program, there is no reason to assume at this early date that the expected final rule will differ in major ways from the existing SPCC requirements.