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OSHA Announces Hazardous-Chemical Inspections in the Midwest

By Roy Maurer  11/15/2013
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In Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is launching programmed inspections of businesses in industries that have reported the release of hazardous chemicals to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The goal is to reduce occupational illnesses and deaths, OSHA said.

The inspections are part of a local emphasis program designed and implemented at the regional level. OSHA said the program will address hazards in industries that pose a particular risk to workers in the targeted jurisdiction and will be accompanied by outreach to make employers aware of the program and the hazards it aims to reduce or eliminate.

“This local emphasis program will make efficient use of OSHA’s industrial hygiene resources by focusing on industrial sites that are known to have released EPA-monitored hazardous chemicals,” said Marcia Drumm, acting regional administrator for OSHA in Kansas City, Mo., in a news statement. “Through this program, OSHA will improve education for company management and strengthen protections for workers exposed to these chemicals.”

Chemicals reported to the EPA that have been released into the environment include ammonia; barium, chromium and copper compounds; hydrochloric acid; hydrogen fluoride; lead and manganese compounds; N-hexane; styrene; sulfuric acid; and nitrate, vanadium and zinc compounds.

Industries will be selected for inspection based on site-specific chemical-release data from the EPA’s database, which lists industry establishments that have released chemical quantities equal to or exceeding 100,000 pounds, OSHA said.

The agency recently appealed to employers to voluntarily adopt new chemical exposure limits and use just-released agency resources to identify safer chemicals that can be used in place of more hazardous ones.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him on Twitter @SHRMRoy.

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