County Presents Annual Industrial Safety Ordinance Report
For Release November 14, 2005
County health officials will present an annual report to the Board of Supervisors describing efforts related to a unique local ordinance aimed at making refinery and chemical facilities safer.
Contra Costa Health Services Hazardous Materials Program personnel will describe their activities in connection with the County's Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO) at a Board of Supervisors meeting at approximately 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 15, at 651 Pine Street, Martinez.
Program staff will review the accident history of various facilities in the county and describe strategies for involving the community in the public participation required by the ordinance.
"The Industrial Safety Ordinance is a very important tool for preventing accidents at local refineries and chemical plants," says Randall Sawyer, Chief of the Hazardous Materials Program. "It requires the facilities to submit safety plans that the county checks, and to take a series of other steps to protect workers and the community."
Although an accident last week at the Shell refinery resulted in a worker injury, Sawyer says that since the ISO was approved by the Board of Supervisors in 1999, there have been almost no serious accidents. Minor accidents have increased slightly, largely because of a series of incidents at the Tesoro refinery.
"The ISO keeps safety out front every day and ensures that we are monitoring the safety efforts of the facilities," says Sawyer.
Among the efforts Sawyer and Cho Nai Cheung, Accidental Release Prevention Engineer, will highlight during the presentation are a number of strategies the program has developed to educate residents about the ISO, many of them suggested by the community. Among them are a comic book explaining the ordinance in easy-to-understand terms and a television show, Get Ready, Get Healthy, that takes viewers inside a refinery to see how a safety inspection is conducted. (The show airs on Contra Costa Television, the County's cable access station.)
"The ordinance requires that the public be given the opportunity to review our safety audit findings and comment on them. We have tried a number of ways to get community members involved. We hope our new strategies will make that happen," says Cheung.
More information about the Industrial Safety Ordinance is available by logging onto cchealth.org to visit the Contra Costa Health Services website.
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