By Sam Pearson
July 12 — A planned emergency services regulation in development before an OSHA subpanel lines up well with the Environmental Protection Agency’s emphasis on boosting first-responders as a way to mitigate chemical safety incidents, an agency official said July 12.
Mathy Stanislaus, EPA assistant administrator for land and emergency management, said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration plan also serves his agency’s goals.
“My intent is to align and simplify as much of our agency’s processes as possible,” Stanislaus said. A confusing set of rules “doesn’t really benefit anyone for the ultimate goal of public safety.”
Stanislaus was addressing the Emergency Response and Preparedness Subcommittee, part of OSHA's National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health.
The OSHA panel is taking the first crack at writing new standards for emergency services providers like fire departments and ambulance companies. The plan would update OSHA's fire brigade rule and set new standards for planning, training, vehicle operations and other emergency tasks.
Stanislaus's job includes overseeing the EPA's pending risk management program update, which the agency is expected to finalize later this year. Both the risk management program update and OSHA's planned Emergency Responder Preparedness Program Standard stemmed from agency responses to the 2013 fertilizer explosion, which killed 12 emergency responders and three members of the public in West, Texas.
After a three-day public meeting this week, the subpanel should complete its work on the proposal once another multiday public meeting in September concludes, said Rick Ingram, panel co-chairman and a health and safety adviser to BP Plc.
OSHA officials haven't given a timetable for when the rulemaking (RIN:1218-AC91) could advance.
Stanislaus also defended the EPA's work as not duplicating similar OSHA programs. Though industry groups have criticized the risk management program proposed rule and a different OSHA initiative, its update to the Process Safety Management program, as redundant, Stanislaus said that wasn't the case.
Both rules would present a “unified approach” when finalized, Stanislaus said.
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