AROUND THE NATION

North Carolina
Synthron Blast

Inadequate management of reactive chemical hazards and unpreparedness for a chemical process emergency, as well as ineffective corporate oversight, were the main reasons why a January 2006 explosion leveled the Synthron chemical manufacturing facility in Morganton, N.C., according to the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).

A final report released on July 31 indicates that the explosion, which occurred as the result of a runaway chemical reaction in a 1,500-gallon process vessel inside the Synthron production building, was a result of a desire by company management to increase sales of the company's paint additives. One worker was fatally burned and 14 others were injured.

According to the CSB's investigation, Synthron had gathered only minimal safety information on its polymer-producing processes. Personnel, including managers, were poorly prepared to recognize the dangers from an uncontrolled chemical reaction, CSB said. Also not in place was an evacuation plan in case of an emergency.

Pennsylvania
Safety Program Working

More than 1 million Pennsylvania workers are safer today thanks to business efforts to eliminate workplace hazards. While a record number of workers are benefiting from the state's certified workplace safety committee program, participating businesses have saved more than $266 million.

Gov. Edward Rendell pointed out that since 1994, state-certified workplace safety committees have helped to protect the physical health of more than 1 million employees, while boosting businesses' economic health.

Since Rendell took office, employer participation in the state-certified workplace safety committee program has increased by 34 percent, from 5,369 in 2003 to 7,214 this year. Collectively, those 7,214 participating employers have saved more than $266 million, as a result of the 5 percent discount they receive on their annual workers' compensation insurance premiums.

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