New CSB Accidental Chemical Release Reporting Rule Headed in Wrong Direction
In what should be a time of reduced regulations, I was disappointed to see that that the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) issued a new accidental chemical release reporting regulation that imposes additional regulatory burden on all small businesses. One of President Trump’s campaign promises was to ease the regulations that had been imposed on business and industry from his predecessors and while his administration has made great strides in accomplishing the goal, the new CSB reporting rule is a step in the opposite direction.
To understand the ramifications, here is a bit of background. The CSB was created in 1990 with the passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments and its sole purpose is to investigate any accidental chemical release that results in a fatality, a serious injury, or substantial property damage.
Historically, the CSB focused its investigations on high-consequence events. After an Arkema Inc. chemical plant in Houston exploded and caught fire in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, several environmental groups filed a lawsuit to force a final rulemaking. Even though the CSB challenged the lawsuit, they lost, and the court ordered the rule to be finalized by February 2020.
While the CSB is to be commended for its effort in challenging the lawsuit, they are to be denounced for the rule they eventually released. They could have decided to issue one that compliments existing reporting rules by other agencies, namely EPA and OSHA; instead, they decided to layer another somewhat complicated rule on top of existing ones.
The biggest issue – the CSB did not include specific reporting thresholds for chemicals but made the reporting outcome based, which means reporting is required based on the results of the chemical release. So if your employee is filling a forklift battery with battery acid (i.e., sulfuric acid) and water and spills some acid on themselves or splashes it in their eye and they must be hospitalized for it, this now becomes a reportable incident for both OSHA and CSB
The frustrating aspect is given the current era of easy electronic communication, if reporting is triggered under one agency why couldn’t that suffice for all of the required reporting by the various agencies? Given the current focus on cutting red tape and streamlining regulations, this new requirement by the CSB is heading in the wrong direction.
What do you think? Use the comment section below to weigh on this new rule.
Gary A. Jones is the director of environmental, health and safety (EHS) affairs at PRINTING United Alliance in Fairfax, VA. His primary responsibility is to monitor and analyze EHS regulatory activities at all domestic and some international government levels. He provides representation on behalf of the printing and specialty graphic imaging industry. In doing so, Mr. Jones works closely with the federal and state-level Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA), Department of Transportation (DOT), and other agencies. He also provides membership assistance on EHS compliance and sustainability programs through a variety of approaches including responding to inquiries, presentations, writing, and consulting services.
Mr. Jones is also supporting PRINTING United Alliance’s efforts for the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP). SGP is dedicated to assisting printing operations respond to the customer demand for sustainable printing.
He holds a BS in biology from LaRoche College and an MS in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh.