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PackSafe to Congress: Inconsistent fire safety regulations put workers and public at risk

Friday, March 4, 2016

Representatives of the Industrial Packaging Safety Alliance, or PackSafe, met with Congressional members and staff to raise awareness of dangerous inconsistencies in fire safety regulations.

PackSafe is reaching out to Congress to explain the need for the Occupational and Health Administration (OSHA) to update its regulations to reflect more recent codes governing the transportation and warehousing of hazardous and flammable liquids published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

“We’re reaching out to members of Congress because of OSHA’s unwillingness to act on something we see as reasonable enforcement and upkeep of existing regulations,” said PackSafe Senior Advisor John McQuaid. “Why focus on OSHA? When a product is shipped, rules from the Department of Transportation (DOT) govern the type of container selected. But when that same product arrives on the warehouse floor, it’s under OSHA’s jurisdiction. That’s the source of the confusion – where the regulations don’t align – that creates conditions that threaten workers, the public and the environment.”

Current DOT regulations do not subject packaging for flammable liquids to any fire testing, putting workers and citizens at great risk. OSHA regulations (29 C.F.R. § 1910.106) are still based on the 1969 edition of NFPA 30, which has had several important updates added in subsequent editions. Furthermore, regulations between DOT and OSHA are inconsistent, causing confusion and risk for workers transporting and storing flammable liquids.

In June 2015, PackSafe sent a letter to Dr. David Michaels, OSHA’s Assistant Secretary, urging OSHA to bring 29 C.F.R. § 1910.106 in line with the current version of NFPA 30. In July, OSHA indicated that the agency does not have plans to revise this provision.

“Sadly, these regulations rarely get serious review until after there has been an accident,” commented David Nugent, senior consultant with Global Risk Consultants and author of a whitepaper on these issues. “We hope to shine a light on these inconsistent and inadequate regulations before tragedy strikes. No family should have to lose a loved one because regulators were unwilling to devote the necessary resources to do the job right.”

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