Over the past few years, the CSB also has found a variety of serious problems in other industries.
In West Virginia, for example, board investigators wrote highly critical reports after an August 2008 explosion that killed two workers at the Bayer CropScience plant in Institute and after a series of January 2010 incidents that claimed one worker's life at the DuPont Co. in Belle.
So far, though, West Virginia and Kanawha Valley officials have not implemented the CSB's recommendation for a new program aimed at preventing future chemical accidents.
Nationally, the CSB has found in repeated investigations that federal Process Safety Management rules enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and federal risk-management requirements enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency have not worked consistently to prevent industrial accidents.
"In the last decade, the CSB has made a number of process-safety related recommendations to OSHA and the EPA . . . however, none of these important regulatory recommendations have been implemented, and there have been no substantive changes made to the PSM or RMP regulations to improve the prevention of major accidents," the CSB states in its Chevron report.
Don Holmstrom, director of the CSB's Western Regional Office, said, "What is lacking, and what the safety case regime requires, is an adaptable, rigorously inspected, goal-setting approach, aimed at continuously reducing risks to 'as low as reasonably practicable' -- known in the industry as ALARP."
Following the Sago and Upper Big Branch coal-mine disasters in West Virginia, investigative teams led by longtime mine-safety advocate Davitt McAteer recommended use of the Australian version of the "safety case" approach -- called the "duty of care" -- to help improve performance in the coal industry.
"Numerous regulatory bodies abroad require this risk-assessment technique for oversight of certain hazardous industries," McAteer's team stated in its report on Upper Big Branch, an April 2010 mine explosion that killed 29 workers. "Employers, employees and any others who may have an influence on hazards in a workplace, such as mining engineers and outside contractors, are required to do everything reasonably practicable to protect the health and safety of workers."
Moure-Eraso, the CSB chairman, said, "The safety case is being increasingly adopted around the world, and the U.S. safety system has fallen behind. Workers, the public and the industry itself would benefit greatly from the enhanced advantages of this more adaptable and effective approach to regulation.
"Other regimes have long since recognized the need for increased participation by workers and their representatives, transparency of information and the use of key process-safety indicators to ensure the system works to prevent major accidents."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.