Final Report Ready on Safety Evaluation for East Bay Chemical Plant
January 7, 2003
An The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and the Richmond City Council will formally receive a report about a safety evaluation at a chemical plant in the East Bay that has been the scene of recent accidents.
MRS Environmental Company will present the report about safety at the General Chemical facility in Richmond at the Board of Supervisors meeting, 651 Pine Street in Martinez, on January 14 at 10 a.m. and at the Richmond City Council at meeting which begins at 7 p.m. at 2600 Barrett Avenue. A 30-day public comment period for the draft report ended December 17. (The final report is available from Randy Sawyer at 925 646-2879, at the Contra Costa Health Services Hazardous Materials Programs Office at 4333 Pacheco Boulevard in Martinez, or online at http://www.cchealth.org.)
The report says General Chemical's management seems to be committed to creating a culture of safety and notes there has been a positive shift away from tight cost control to much greater emphasis on safety in the past two years. But reviewers found that not enough resources were being allocated for preventive breakdowns of plant equipment. The safety review also found that workers are free to question or stop unsafe work activities without reprisal but that there is no vision of what the safety program should be.
"This is a very comprehensive report that should provide General Chemical and other industrial facilities with clear goals and strategies for improving safety," says Lewis G. Pascalli, Jr., Director of the County's Hazardous Materials Programs.
To develop the report, MRS, a consulting firm selected by Contra Costa Health Services based on recommendations made by an oversight committee, spent a week at General Chemical, reviewing policies and procedures, surveying employees, conducting 30 interviews and looking at management systems.
The report does not include a timeline for correcting the weaknesses, but it does rank the recommendations for improvement in priority categories. Among those ranked highest are for General Chemical to develop written policies for such things as rescuing workers and to improve the reporting and review of near misses.
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