CONTACT: Tony Montana (412) 562-2592
PITTSBURGH – The United Steelworkers (USW) today praised the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) for adopting this week the nation’s strongest Process Safety Management (PSM) protections for oil refineries as recommended by the state’s Department of Industrial Relations (DIR).
USW International President Leo W. Gerard said that oil refineries in particular, filled with explosive, toxic and otherwise dangerous materials, have been the sites of several of the most catastrophic industrial accidents of the last 20 years.
“For decades, the USW and predecessor unions have fought to make refineries safer for the men and women who support their families by working in them,” Gerard said. “We have learned, too well, the lessons of the past and the deadly consequences when workers’ voices are ignored or management cuts corners in pursuit of higher profits.”
USW Oil Sector Chairman Kim Nibarger said that the union hopes other states and federal regulators will follow California’s example in updating and improving PSM standards that are outdated.
“The engaged participation of various stakeholders representing labor, the industry, our communities and regulators has brought about new standards that are protective, manageable, comprehensive and enforceable,” Nibarger said. “The improved regulations will not only save lives and enhance the environment but improve the reliability of operations as well.”
A huge fire at Chevron’s Richmond, Calif., refinery in 2012 brought together a coalition of labor, environmental, government and industry leaders to seek updated safeguards for workers and the public.
The DIR, led by Christine Baker, met with coalition members and assembled a labor-management committee to develop the proposal. The new regulations put forward by Baker’s team ensure that California’s refineries operate under modern, best-practice engineering and management practices and give refinery workers a much stronger voice on issues that impact their safety.
The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in manufacturing, metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.