The American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) free brochure titled âHazardous Materials Safety Information Guide’ provides key information aimed at educating the public on hazardous materials (hazmats) â what they are, who to call in an emergency, how local emergency planning committees work, and much more aimed at increasing safety.
Of the more than 3.1 billion tons of hazmats transported throughout the U.S. in 2000, there were 17,514 hazmat incidents resulting in 13 fatalities, 246 injuries and causing $72,727,595 in damages. Ohio had the most incidents, with Texas second and California third. To provide vital information on hazmats to the public in light of an expected increase in the transport of hazmats, currently at 800,000 shipments per day, and with the increased threat of terrorism, ASSE developed the âHazardous Materials Safety Information Guide.’
Brochure topics include: what hazmats are and what hazmat placards mean; training guidelines; how to find your local emergency planning committee; hazmat laws; how occupational safety, health and environmental professionals address this issue; and hazmat emergency response information.
According to a recent U.S. Department of Transportation Commodity Flow Survey, Texas has the highest amount of hazardous material shipments in the U.S. flowing annually through the state either by truck, rail, water, pipeline or air. Louisiana ranks second in flow followed by California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Ohio, Florida, New Jersey and Michigan.
Should an emergency occur, federal officials say the general public should first call 911 and, if one can identify the size and color of the placards on the transport vehicle without endangering their own safety, to provide that information to the authorities.
As for safety planning, there are State Emergency Response Commissions (SERC) who designate Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) in most communities across the U.S. LEPCs are made up of local emergency service personnel, occupational safety and health professionals, and local officials who work to prevent and plan responses to accidental or deliberate chemical incidents. They are operated through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One can locate their LEPC by checking the EPA web site at http://www.epa.gov/ceppo/lepclist.htm.
For round-the-clock reporting of an incident, the U.S. National Response Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is where all chemical, radiological and etiological discharges into the environment are reported by calling 1-800-424-8802.
For a copy of the ASSE brochure contact ASSE customer service at 847-699-2929 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for item number G017. The brochure can be downloaded for free off of ASSE’s web site at http://www.asse.org/newsroom. Founded in 1911, ASSE is the oldest and largest professional safety organization with more than 30,000 members who are occupational safety, health and environmental professionals. ASSE is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. For more information contact ASSE at www.asse.org.