Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2011 13:16:21 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Kim Auletta <kauletta**At_Symbol_Here**NOTES.CC.SUNYSB.EDU>
Subject: Worker Memorial Day & Chemical Safety
Statement from U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso 
on Workers Memorial Day        
            On this WorkersÕ Memorial Day 2011, I call on all of us in 
government and industry to remember those who have lost their lives and 
suffered serious injuries on the job. I believe that a safe workplace is a 
basic human right. At the Chemical Safety Board, we remain committed to 
our important mission: preventing accidents by investigating them 
thoroughly and making the results public along with critical safety 
recommendations aimed at saving lives and protecting the public and the 
environment. Our investigators and board members are keenly aware of what 
we need to do to assure that everyone gets to go home at the end of their 
            At the CSB we continue to see far too many chemical accidents 
in the workplace, investigating as many as we are able within our 
resources. Among these:  Five workers died earlier this month disposing of 
fireworks at a storage facility in Hawaii.  One worker was killed and a 
second severely burned in a flash fire at a powdered-iron production 
facility in Tennessee in January.  And in December, an explosion ripped 
through a plant that processes highly flammable titanium powder in West 
Virginia, killing three workers.  
            Just over a year ago, eleven lives were lost on the 
BP/Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil production rig in a massive explosion, 
and seven workers lost their lives at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, 
Washington, in an explosion following the rupture of a heat exchanger.  
When our investigation reports are finalized, we will point to root causes 
and challenge companies, trade associations, labor groups, standards 
organizations and regulators to adopt recommendations with the goal of 
saving workersÕ lives.

            Among other types of accidents, we are focused on explosions 
caused by hot work activities (such as welding and grinding) and 
combustible dust (from food products like sugar to fine pieces of metal).  
Workers will continue to be at risk at facilities where care is not taken 
to test for hydrocarbons before and during hot work or where combustible 
dust is permitted to accumulate to dangerous levels where it may be lofted 
and ignited by ever-present ignition sources.   

            Worker fatalities and injuries at workplaces where hazardous 
chemicals are produced or handled continue to occur. At the same time 
however, we recognize that workplaces are much safer than they were 
decades ago.  Companies that operate conscientiously and that 
systematically follow the rules and look for potential hazards are those 
that enjoy a more productive labor force, greater support in their 
communities, and greater profits --- nothing is as costly as a bad 

            This year on WorkersÕ Memorial Day we commemorate two 
important anniversaries. We congratulate the Occupational Health and 
Safety Administration on the occasion of its 40thanniversary.  There is no 
question that the establishment of OSHA in 1971 has assured that millions 
of Americans now work in far safer environments than in the past because, 
regrettably, not all employers do the right thing in the absence of a 
regulatory environment.  We at the CSB continue to work with OSHA on 
implementation of recommendations we have made to improve the Process 
Safety Management standard and the promulgation of a new standard 
addressing combustible dust explosion hazards.
            This year we are also commemorating the 100th anniversary of 
the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Young immigrant women workers found 
no escape when fire broke out in a work area in a large building in New 
York City because many exit doors were locked.  Some 146 workers were 
killed in the blaze, and in their memory many workplace and labor-practice 
reforms live on, saving countless lives every day. 
            It is for those who worked at places like Triangle, Tesoro and 
the Transocean platform that we pause on this Workers Memorial Day and 
commit anew to the work that lies ahead in preventing future accidents. 

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