OSHA has launched a Regional Emphasis Program addressing hazards stemming from exposure to fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate and agricultural anhydrous ammonium.
Employees in the fertilizer storage, mixing/blending, and distribution industries face fire and explosion risks, along with exposure to hazardous chemicals and toxic gases.
The REP, which started Oct. 1, is effective in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. The first 90 days of the program will be education and prevention outreach by OSHA to promote compliance with existing standards. The agency also will be responding to fatalities, hospitalizations, complaints and referrals during that period.
Enforcement will begin at the conclusion of the 90 days and continue until Sept. 30, 2019, unless the program is extended.
“The goal is to improve worker safety and reduce the potential for catastrophic incidents,” Eric Harbin, OSHA’s acting regional administrator in Dallas, said in a Sept. 25 press release. “At the end of the day, we want to ensure workers go home safely to their families.”
In the release, OSHA highlights its Fertilizer Industry Guidance on Storage and Use of Ammonium Nitrate webpage and another on its anhydrous ammonia standards, as well as its free compliance and consultation services.