The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has entered into an alliance with the Fertilizer Safety and Health Partners and the Environmental Protection Agency to provide safety and health information and training resources to workers, emergency responders and communities surrounding establishments in the agricultural retail and supply industry. The alliance will focus on the safe storage and handling of fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia.

“Incidents such as the horrific explosion at the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas, that killed 15 people including emergency response personnel, highlight the hazards in storing and handling ammonium nitrate,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “These tragedies are preventable and this alliance shows that we are working together to address hazards, prevent injuries and save lives.”

The alliance emphasizes sharing emergency response information among agricultural business establishments, first responders and surrounding communities; as well as improving the safety and security of chemical facilities, reducing the risks of hazardous chemicals to workers and communities, educating workers on their rights and ensuring that employers understand their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

During the two-year agreement, the alliance will develop outreach materials and case studies on safe storage and handling of fertilizers and best practices for emergency response procedures in the event of releases of ammonia or fires in facilities that store ammonium nitrate. The alliance will also support other OSHA national outreach initiatives, including the prevention of heat illness among outdoor workers, the revised Hazard Communication Standard and the benefits of establishing a safety and health management system.

The Fertilizer Safety and Health Partners comprise the Agricultural Retailers Association, International Association of Fire Fighters, National Volunteer Fire Council, Fertilizer Institute, and Ammonia Safety Training Institute.

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