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by Ken Ward, Jr.,  cross-posted from Sustained Outrage: a Gazette Watchdog Blog

During a public hearing last night in Georgia, the federal Chemical Safety Board tried to answer critics who complained the board had backed off its strong recommendation that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) write new rules to protect workers nationwide from the dangers of explosive dust.  In approving a final report on the disastrous explosion that killed 14 workers at and Imperial Sugar refinery, board members unanimously added this language as a recommendation to OSHA:

Proceed expeditiously, consistent with the Chemical Safety Board’s November 2006 recommendation and OSHA’s announced intention to conduct rulemaking, to promulgate a comprehensive dust standard to reduce or eliminate hazards from fire and explosion combustible powders and dust.

But the move did not satisfy the CSB’s critics. Evan Yeats of the United Food and Commercial Workers union told the Savannah Morning News that the board’s action was just a “public relations maneuver”:

It still could take years for OSHA to enact regulations using the current process, Yeats said. “We really can’t wait that long,” he said.

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WTOC in Savannah, GA is reporting that Georgia’s Senators, Republicans Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, are calling on OSHA to issue a regulation to protect workers from the dangers related to combustible dust.  WTOC says that the Senators were brief today by officials of the Chemical Safety Board on the causes of the Feb. 7, 2008, explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery that killed 14 people and left others with serious burns and injuries.

Senator Isakson said:

“I believe we should embrace the findings of the Chemical Safety Board, including the recommendation that OSHA establish mandatory standards modeled after the National Fire Protection Association guidelines.  Sen. Chambliss and I are working closely with Secretary Solis to ensure that the lessons we have learned as a result of the Port Wentworth disaster will help us prevent future tragedies.”

Senator Chambliss added:

“As public servants, it is our responsibility to do everything we can from a federal standpoint to ensure this type of tragedy never occurs again.”

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by Ken Ward, Jr.,  cross-posted from Sustained Outrage: a Gazette Watchdog Blog

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is scheduled to release the findings of its investigation into the terrible explosion that killed 14 workers at a Georgia sugar refinery in February 2008.

It’s another big test for the CSB,  which has been under fire recently.  Organized labor harshly criticized the board for backing off a strong recommendation on the need for OSHA and EPA to write new rules to prevent accidents involving highly reactive chemicals.  The board refused to support its own staff’s call for a safety bulletin and recommendations urging more controls on how workers handle the purging of gas lines.

When the Imperial Sugar report comes out, labor groups and safety advocates want to see the CSB repeat — in very tough terms — its previous call for OSHA to implement  a “comprehensive regulatory standard” aimed at preventing dust explosions across all industries nationwide.

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Labor Secretary Hilda Solis signed off on her first semi-annual agenda of regulations, which was published in the Federal Register on Monday, May 11.  She writes:

“This document sets forth the Department’s semiannual agenda of regulations that have been selected for review or development during the coming year.  The Department’s agencies have carefully assessed their available resources and what they can accomplish in the next 12 months and have adjusted their agendas accordingly.”

I’ve griped before about not understanding the difference between the items listed on this “agenda” and the supplemental on-line “Agency Rule List” at reginfo.gov.  In Secretary Solis’ notice, she directs us to review another document:

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WSAV News in Savannah, Georgia reports today that Mr. Malcolm Frazier, 47, succumbed to the severe burns he sustained in the February explosion of combustible dust at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, GA. WSAV reports:

After a long courageous battle, Malcolm Frazier, 47, succumbed to his burn injuries and passed away in the Joseph M. Still Burn Center this morning at 12:50 a.m. 

‘We mourn over the death of every burn patient, but this one was particularly hard,’ stated Keith Donker, RN, night charge at the Burn Center. ‘There is something very special about this family. Over six months, we came to love them dearly. The Frazier family is part of our burn family, and we grieve with them in the loss of their son and brother.’

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