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The CSB has been notified that the new administration's budget proposal for 2018 includes no provisions for its work. If the budget is not amended the CSB will be effectively abolished from October this year.
The board investigates major chemicals accidents and makes recommendations to prevent recurrences. It has no regulatory power but its investigations and findings are influential, informing the work of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA also faces substantial budget cuts under President Trump's proposals.
The board has an annual budget of about $12 million (£9.5 million). The proposed federal spending plan for 2018 withdraws this funding along with that of 18 other federally-sponsored bodies.
The proposal follows the US Senate's approval in February of Trump's proposals to abolish requirements set in place by his predecessor for employers to keep injury records for five years and for organisations bidding for federal government contracts to disclose their accident statistics.
Beth Rosenberg, assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, Massachusetts, and former CSB board member, told the Reuters news agency that the CSB's opponents "don't know what they're doing here or how useful this board is".
CSB chair Vanessa Allen Sutherland was appointed for a five-year term by President Obama and cannot officially be removed by the new administration. However, federal agency chairs have stepped aside in the past at presidential transitions and it is not clear how Sutherland could remain in post if the agency she heads had been wound down.
Sutherland said she was "disappointed to see the president's budget proposal to eliminate the agency. The CSB is an independent agency whose sole mission is to investigate accidents in the chemical industry and to make recommendations to prevent future accidents and improve safety [-¦] Our investigations and recommendations have had an enormous effect on improving public safety. Our recommendations have resulted in banned natural gas blows in Connecticut, an improved fire code in New York City, and increased public safety at oil and gas sites across the State of Mississippi.
"The CSB has been able to accomplish all of this with a small and limited budget. The American public is safer today as a result of the work of the dedicated and professional staff of the CSB. As this process moves forward, we hope that the important mission of this agency will be preserved."
The need for a dedicated apprenticeship programme was raised at the London Health and Safety Directors Forum recently. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has facilitated setting up an employer’s working group – SHE Apprenticeship Trailblazer – to address this gap in the market, while construction and civil engineering firm Costain has volunteered to lead it.
The Stanlow Refinery in Cheshire, north-west England had been shut down for eight weeks in autumn 2013 for planned maintenance work. The explosion occurred in the fractional distillation unit when the plant was being recommissioned. Stanlow was previously owned by Royal Dutch Shell but Mumbai-based Essar Oil acquired it in 2011.
Liverpool Crown Court was told that during the start-up of the main distillation unit, highly flammable hydrocarbons entered an unused furnace. Heat from another furnace triggered the blast, which started several fires that the fire service had to bring under control. No one was injured but the incident, which happened on 14 November 2013, caused more than £20m worth of damage, including collapsed internal structures.
A 32-year-old Spanish worker was killed on 29 March when he plunged from a wind turbine in East Renfrewshire, Scotland. The turbine, which is part of Scottish Power Renewables’ (SPR) 539MW Whitelee onshore windfarm, was under maintenance by GE at the time of the incident. The fatality came just a fortnight after Portuguese worker Antonio Linares, 37, fell to his death inside a turbine that was being built at SPR’s Kilgallioch onshore windfarm in South Ayrshire.
At the same time, the research identifies an increase in the use of management systems approaches to OSH as managers or specialists take on responsibility for safety and health management.The qualitative study builds on EU-OSHA’s second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2).