CHO / STS
Southwest Research Institute Laboratory
Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility
PO Box 20130
White Hall, AR 71612
We are all saddened by this tragedy. As safety professionals, we all know that there are many contributing factors in such an incident, some of which we probably still don’t completely understand from a distance.
In the coverage, I’m surprised that there have been few references to the OSHA Lab Standard and the Chemical Hygiene Plan. The OLS/CHP is key to laboratory safety, so it should be very relevant to this incident. (The CalOSHA citation only cited the training requirements of the OLS.)
I wonder—are the OSHA Lab Standard requirements sufficiently rigorous to minimize the possibility of this type of accident? If not, perhaps DivCHAS should suggest improvements to the OLS/CHP, or create a new model CHP. Is something out there already?
BTW, in December 2003 the New York Times ran a series of articles about OSHA’s weak enforcement of workplace fatalities. See http://www.arentfox.com/publications/index.cfm? fa=legalUpdateDisp&content_id=1089 for more information. Only in the
is the maximum fine for a workplace fatality is $7,000, while the maximum fine for leaving a cap off a hazardous waste container is $27,500. Some states have higher fines for littering. U.S.
Peter A. Reinhardt
Director, Office of Environmental Health & Safety
135 College St., Suite 100
New Haven, CT 06510-2411
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