OSHA Begins Regional Emphasis Program on Ammonium
A three-month period of education and outreach to employers about the hazards of fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate (FGAN) and agricultural anhydrous ammonium began on Oct. 1, OSHA announced in a press release. The educational outreach is part of a new Regional Emphasis Program targeting the fertilizer storage, mixing/blending, and distribution industry in the states of Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. Workers in this industry face hazards that include fire, explosions, and exposure to toxic gases and hazardous chemicals. “The 90-day outreach period is an opportunity for employers to proactively seek compliance assistance to ensure they are adequately protecting workers,” said Kimberly Stille, an OSHA regional administrator based in Kansas City, Mo. Following this outreach period, OSHA will engage in enforcement activities related to FGAN and anhydrous ammonium through Sept. 30, 2019. OSHA provides guidance to the fertilizer industry on the storage and use of ammonium nitrate on its website. The guidance includes a joint publication of OSHA, EPA, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms on the safe storage, handling, and management of solid ammonium nitrate in a bead-like form known as “prills.” Other resources available on the OSHA web page include guidance from a wide range of organizations including the Institute of Makers of Explosives; the National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association; the United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive; Safe Work Australia; and the National Fire Protection Association. The NFPA 400 standard, Hazardous Materials Code, includes a chapter on ammonium nitrate.
At least forty tons of FGAN were present at the West Fertilizer facility in West, Texas, when it exploded in April 2013. The blast killed 12 first responders and three members of the public.