Agricultural, first responder, and safety organizations signed an alliance with federal agencies to advance fertilizer safety.
The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), International Fire Fighters Association, National Volunteer Fire Council, and Ammonia Safety and Training Institute joined the Fertilizer Safety and Health Partners Alliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
"Over the last several months, we've partnered with OSHA and EPA on the Ammonium Nitrate Chemical Advisory, and others to get safety messages out to our members," said ARA president and CEO Daren Coppock. "But, we discovered that there was no official communication agreement between OSHA and ARA to help ensure workplace safety."
In early 2014, ARA began working with OSHA to set up an alliance program to improve communication between retailers and first responders regarding workplace hazards and the safe handling of fertilizers.
Since then, EPA and trade organizations such as The Fertilizer Institute, the National Volunteer Fire Council, and the Ammonia Safety and Training Institute joined the effort.
The alliance formalizes a network to improve communication between retailers and emergency responders regarding workplace hazards and the safe handling of fertilizers.
"We look forward to working with our association and agency partners to further enhance the safety and security of agricultural retail facilities," said TFI president Chris Jahn.
Since the West Fertilizer explosion federal agencies have been considering many long-term regulatory options. "Many of the options presented point toward changes in policy that will impact ag retailers; however, there is no current mechanism of communicating information to retailers that would strengthen the safety and health culture than voluntary outreach," said ARA public policy counsel Michael Kennedy. "We are excited that OSHA and other partners are onboard in promoting our mutual goal."
The alliance will develop several projects to strengthen fertilizer safety efforts:
* Present a joint commitment to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses
* Conduct best practices seminars on effective emergency response procedures for between volunteer fire fighters and industry partners
* Create online compliance assistance tools and resources for retailers and first responders
* Produce case studies focusing on injuries and fatalities in the agricultural retail industry that result from ammonia releases or Ammonium Nitrate fires
* Update and promote Ammonium Nitrate Guidance and Government Alerts.
The alliance complements industry-led efforts through ResponsibleAg to improve federal regulatory compliance among fertilizer retailers.
"Programs like ResponsibleAg and the FSHP Alliance, rather than duplicative regulation, are the best ways to improve safety," Coppock added. "We hope that through this program we can continue to demonstrate to the White House, Congress and the public that safety is our number one priority."
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