The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released a video safety message discussing the role that the CSB recommendations program plays in ensuring that the Board’s accident investigations have a lasting impact on industrial safety.
The new four-minute safety message features the recently appointed deputy managing director for recommendations, Dr. Susan Anenberg. Previously Dr. Anenberg served at the CSB from 2004 to 2006 as a federal career intern and recommendations specialist. After leaving the CSB, she pursued a doctorate in environmental science and later joined the EPA, where she worked on important air related regulations before rejoining the CSB in August 2014.
A 70% closure rate
In the safety message, Dr. Anenberg discusses the CSB’s process for following up on over 700 issued safety recommendations and achieving the agency’s nearly 70% rate of successful recommendations closure. Dr. Anenberg notes, “Recommendations are the CSB’s primary tool for achieving positive change and preventing future incidents. A recommendation is a specific course of action issued to a specific party, based on the findings of CSB investigations, safety studies, and other products.”
Among numerous successfully implemented recommendations are those resulting from a June 2009 natural gas explosion that killed four workers and injured dozens of others at the ConAgra Foods facility in Garner, North Carolina. Just eight months later a second natural gas explosion fatally injured six workers at Kleen Energy, a power plant under construction in Middletown, Connecticut.
A new standard
Following an urgent recommendation from the CSB, the State of Connecticut banned the hazardous practice of natural gas blows during power plant construction. Responding to a second urgent recommendation from the CSB, the National Fire Protection Association used an expedited process to develop a new comprehensive fuel gas safety standard.
The video further explains that while some safety recommendations may be adopted immediately, others require extensive effort and advocacy. For example, following a string of combustible dust accident investigations, the CSB recommended in a 2006 study that OSHA develop a combustible dust standard for general industry. But eight years later, a national standard has yet to be created, and preventable combustible dust accidents continue to occur.
The CSB is now creating a list of “Most Wanted” safety improvements, which will result in increased advocacy measures. In 2013, the Board voted to designate the development of an OSHA combustible dust standard as the agency’s first Most Wanted Safety Improvement.
As Dr. Anenberg states in the video, “CSB recommendations are making a difference. CSB recommendations trigger important actions that are making American businesses, communities and the environment safer and healthier.”
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.