Over thirty years of experience in the chemical industry has provided my background in the crisis management arena. This particular industry has been in the foreground of developing comprehensive plans. The nature of the business coupled with the potential for significant events and the catastrophic accidents that occurred have nurtured an atmosphere where crisis management skills are critical to the existence of every chemical company.
Crisis Management actually got its start in this country when the United States Department of Labor was established on March 4, 1913. The Department's stated purpose was "to foster, promote and develop the welfare of working people, to improve their working conditions, and to enhance their opportunity for profitable employment." Since this beginning many boards, organizations, and acts have been formed to help fulfill this purpose.
On December 29, 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act was signed into law to protect the worker and workplace safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was formed as part of this Act on the same day. Since its inception many positive changes have taken place under the mandated regulations.
OSHA promulgated the Process Safety Management (PSM) regulation on February 24, 1992 to prevent disasters such as the 1984 Bhopal Disaster. This regulation is intended to prevent or minimize unexpected releases of toxic, reactive, or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals. This landmark legislation targeted facilities that use certain chemicals in excess of listed threshold quantities. It put into place fourteen requirements that had to be addressed for each of the covered processes on each site. A graduated timetable was also developed which required a 25% completion rate for each of the 4 years from May 26, 1994 through May 26, 1997.
The EPA promulgated the Risk Management Program Rule (RMP) on June 21, 1996, which requires companies of all sizes that use certain flammable and toxic substances to develop a Risk Management Program. The RMP includes hazard assessments that detail the potential effects of an accidental release, an accident history of the last five years, and an evaluation of worst-case and alternative accidental releases. A prevention program must be developed that includes safety precautions and maintenance, monitoring, and employee training measures. An emergency response program must also be developed that spells out emergency health care, employee training measures and procedures for informing the public and response agencies should an accident occur.
Another organization, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) (formerly Chemical Manufacturing Association and Manufacturing Chemists Association) has provided beneficial initiatives such as Responsible Care® Since the passage of PSM, RMP and the ACC initiatives, the chemical industry has gained a great deal of insight in the field of Crisis Management. These regulations and initiatives have allowed the chemical industry to look at their processes in the detail that few companies have done previously. These data have influenced the creation of elaborate plans for this industry. These principals can be applied to any industry or business or even to schools., CHEMTREC®, and TRANSCARE®.