ASSE Strives to Keep Chemical Safety Board from Chopping Block

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) has expressed its support for the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB). The independent federal agency, which investigates industrial chemical accidents, is on the chopping block in the budget proposed by the Trump administration.

Workers working at a chemical plant

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In a statement released Tuesday, ASSE, which represents more than 37,000 occupational safety and health professionals worldwide, said it “supports the mission of the U.S Chemical Safety Board and is deeply troubled that the CSB is targeted for elimination in President Trump’s budget blueprint for 2018.”

According to ASSE, the Chemical Safety Board, which does not issue or enforce regulations, plays a critical role in keeping workers safe. The ASSE statement noted CSB’s role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Texas City Refinery explosion, which claimed 15 workers’ lives in 2005. The investigation lead to safety recommendations that protect workers and ultimately save lives, says ASSE.

“Understanding the cause of a serious incident benefits all of us,” said ASSE president Tom Cecich. “While we understand this administration aims to make the government leaner, more effective, and more accountable, removing the only federal agency dedicated to investigating chemical incidents hurts the efforts to build stronger manufacturing capabilities.”

The agency has conducted hundreds of investigations of major chemical incidents over decades. Occupational safety and health professionals depend on CSB chemical incident reports and safety bulletins. As well, CSB produces videos used for safety training.

In response to the budget proposal, the Chemical Safety Board expressed its disappointment and acknowledged that it has been able to accomplish a great deal over the years despite a limited budget.