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June 25, 2013
Chemical incident videos: Grisly, but instructive

If you’re looking for a new method of training your employees on chemical safety, you may want to tap into their fondness for YouTube videos and reality TV. A 3-DVD set of 31 safety videos produced by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is available free of charge at http://www.CSB.gov.

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The CSB is charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The board looks for root causes of the accidents, which are typically deficiencies in safety management systems but can be any factor that might have prevented a disaster. This can include equipment failures, human error, unforeseen chemical reactions, and other hazards.

Videos produced by the CSB are well known for their forceful depiction of the events that lead to deadly releases, explosions, and fires. They often use animation to tell the story about events that caused injuries, deaths, and destruction. Among the collection in the newly released set are videos depicting the massive explosion that killed 15 and injured 180 at the BP Texas City refinery and a runway reaction at a pesticide plant that caused a catastrophic explosion and fire.

While videos can help reinforce your message, there’s no substitute for comprehensive training and effective chemical safety procedures. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Workers should read labels and safety data sheets (SDSs) before handling, using, or storing a chemical. Make sure your employees are trained on how to interpret and use the information on labels and SDSs.
  • Employers whose workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals must comply with OSHA’s Hazard Communication (HazCom) standard, which is a set of requirements intended to inform workers of the hazards they’re exposed to. Compliance with HazCom requires a written program, employee training, labeling, and more.
  • Proper storage of hazardous chemicals is essential for preventing accidents. Make sure chemicals are stored in well-ventilated areas in or on safe, stable structures, and never store flammable or explosive chemicals near a potential ignition source.
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