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OSHA moving to prevent chemical facility workplace accidents

Pennsylvania residents may be interested in knowing that the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is soliciting public comment on proposed policies aimed at preventing workplace accidents due to safety hazards in facilities that process chemicals. The impetus for new policies and revision of existing safety standards comes in the wake of a West Texas explosion in April 2013. The ammonium nitrate-fueled explosion killed 15 people.

OSHA's public request for information is driven by Executive Order 13650, which is aimed at making chemical facilities safer in general as well as more secure in an effort to prevent, according to a press release from the U.S. Labor Department, "major chemical incidents." Due to its very nature, the chemical industry cannot keep unsafe working conditions a secret for long. An industrial accident such as an explosion often involves injuries and even deaths that are difficult to ignore or brush over. OSHA's renewed dedication to improving safety in chemical facilities is proactive in that it seeks to prevent workplace accidents rather than simply to develop best practices for dealing with them.

While this focus on safety in the chemical plant industry is progress, many other work environments still pose threats to employees due to a variety of safety hazards. Every employee has the right to be protected from unsafe working conditions, whether or not the industry in which they work features high-profile accidents when something goes wrong.

An individual who is injured or the family of an employee who is killed in a workplace accident may want to consider filing a workers' compensation claim, or perhaps taking legal action instead, against the employer. While filing a civil suit waives one's right to workers' compensation funds, individuals may be awarded financial compensation through a legal action for expenses that workers' compensation will not pay for, including attorney's fees, punitive damages and pain and suffering. An experienced attorney may make the complex legal process easier to navigate as well as protect an individual's rights.

Source: United States Department of Labor , "US Labor Department seeks public comment on agency standards to improve chemical safety", December 03, 2013

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