Pennsylvania workers may be interested in the conclusions that recently emerged from a federal probe into the storage of ammonium nitrate at chemical facilities in the United States. Congressional investigators reportedly found that federal oversight is insufficient due to industry exemptions, outdated policies and poor communication.
Ammonium nitrate is widely used as a fertilizer, and the chemical was found to be responsible for a deadly explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant on April 17, 2013. According to the Government Accountability Office, the Department of Homeland Security only lists a portion of the storage facilities for ammonium nitrate in the United States. Reportedly, a review of state databases found that two-thirds of U.S. facilities were unaccounted for. The GAO blames legal loopholes and noncompliance from companies for this oversight problem.
In response, the GAO is calling for broad changes to safety rules. It blames the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration for safety protocols that are outdated and fail to include measures targeting ammonium nitrate. According to the federal audit, OSHA rarely inspects ammonium nitrate storage facilities because it depends on EPA rules, which do not list the substance as hazardous. Authorities said that DHS, OSHA and EPA accepted these findings and agreed that new efforts need to be made to improve safety in workplaces dealing with the chemical.
If Pennsylvania workers are injured in a factory accident involving ammonium nitrate, the workers might be entitled to benefits from workers’ compensation. The benefits for injured workers may include medical care coverage and payments for lost wages. Yet, the claims process can complicated and even adversarial. For this reason, many injured workers retain a workers’ compensation attorney to represent them through the process.
Source: Claims Journal, “Federal Probe Finds Chemical Plant Oversight Lacking“, Hope Yen, May 23, 2014