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California industrial accident: Refinery safety report drafted

The fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond spawned a multi-agency task force called "California's Interagency Working Group on Refinery Safety" that has been working to improve safety at our state's refineries. The objective is to prevent even one industrial accident such as the Chevron refinery fire. A draft of the report includes measure designed to augment current safety procedures, improve oversight in refineries and enhance emergency preparedness.

It is believed that part of achieving these objectives involves the hiring of additional inspectors for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These new inspectors and support staff will be available to conduct a greater number of inspections in refineries and chemical plants in order to limit safety violations and to increase training and implementation of OSHA mandated procedures. A fee structure is being devised to cover salaries for 15 additional inspectors and other staff.

The California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are focusing on improving the monitoring of air contaminants that could be toxic. The agencies are also attempting to figure out a way to share information regarding toxic air incidents more efficiently and with a wider group of people. This will involve getting workers more involved in the process.

All of these efforts are being coordinated based on the input of labor union representatives, the refinery industry, members of the community and the workers themselves. The goal of everyone involved has been to increase safety for the workers in the refineries and the community in which they are located. An industrial accident in a refinery has the potential to cause serious harm and even death to workers. Reducing the probability of industrial accidents through the efforts of these agencies is a good start.

Source: ohsonline.com, "Working Group Releases California Refinery Safety Report," July 16, 2013

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