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Renewed ACC OSHA Alliance Looks to Continue Building on Past Successes

Jennifer Garfinkel

Worker and workplace safety will always be of paramount importance to the American Chemistry Council (ACC). On Tuesday, September 15, we renewed our Alliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This five-year agreement looks to continue fostering safer and more healthful American workplaces operating with diisocyanate chemistry along the polyurethane value chain. The ACC OSHA Alliance will continue to be led by three groups: the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI), the Diisocyanates (DII) and Aliphatic Diisocyanates (ADI) panels.

The Alliance has enjoyed much success since its creation in late 2017, from providing education and training offerings, to raising awareness of OSHA’s national rulemaking and initiatives. Looking ahead to the future, we hope to further build on these past successes and continue providing the industry and OSHA with the necessary training, education, and resources to help keep workers safe on the jobsite. 

A Look Back at Past Years

Over the past two years, the Alliance achieved success, including publishing several documents related to worker safety, inviting OSHA speakers for industry events, and building critical relationships. ACC has been an advocate in promoting safety and health topics related to several of OSHA’s initiatives, including participation in OSHA’s annual Safe and Sound Week Campaign and the National Safety Stand Down to Prevent Falls in Construction.

Developing Worker Safety Resources

Since 2017, the Alliance has published three important guidance documents focusing on strengthening worker and workplace safety. These documents cover topics ranging from personal protective equipment (PPE) recommendations for automotive refinish coating applications to medical screening and surveillance guidance for both workers and employers. These documents explain that with the proper workplace practices, use of PPE and engineering controls, as well as worker training and medical surveillance programs, diisocyanates can and have been used safely for many years in a wide variety of applications.  

Connecting OSHA to the Industry and Value Chain

The Alliance aims to provide information to the polyurethane value chain on a variety of OSHA initiatives including how to access OSHA’s resources and experts. Focusing on a broad audience, we’ve been able to accomplish this goal through inviting safety professionals from OSHA’s Regional and Area Offices to speak at industry and polyurethane value chain meetings.

OSHA has been an active participant over the past two years at the annual CPI Polyurethanes Technical Conference by providing updates on OSHA initiatives during the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Technical Session, presenting health and safety information during the EHS Workshop, and networking with attendees at the table top exhibits. This year, the Alliance invited Tim Irving, Deputy Director of the OSHA Directorate of Construction, to present a webinar on worker safety considerations for the insulation and construction industries that continue to work during the pandemic. For the nearly 200 participants on the phone, Mr. Irving highlighted the challenges that construction sites pose for social distancing requirements, considerations for hard-to-acquire PPE, and the possible mental health challenges of the uncertainties of working during a health crisis.

In addition to ACC events, the Alliance has played a major role in bringing OSHA speakers to others in the polyurethane industry.  In a variety of industries, from slabstock foam production to elastomers, to spray polyurethane foam insulation and roofing, regional Compliance Assistance Officers have presented information on the many resources that OSHA offers, from guidance to actual compliance assistance visits to worksites. In return, those OSHA representatives had the opportunity to learn from experts how diisocyanates are used in key industries and the importance that the value chain places on worker safety.

One of our first initiatives moving forward in the renewed Alliance will be to develop an “Introduction to Diisocyanates” webinar to educate OSHA personnel on the safe use and handling of diisocyanates.

Building Relationships

The Alliance has also been essential in cultivating new relationships with both OSHA and others in the OSHA Alliance program, all working to support safe and healthy workplaces. Through the Alliance, ACC has been able to forge connections with representatives from the OSHA Salt Lake Technical Center to bring groups together to discuss innovations in diisocyanate research.

By connecting with other organizations within the OSHA Alliance program, ACC has been able to expand its reach even beyond the Alliance by promoting guidance materials focused on diisocyanate workplace safety to new audiences. Through the Alliance Partner meeting, we connected with staff from the Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR) to advance mutual safety goals that led to the development of an instructional video for workers in the automotive refinishing industry. We were also able to bring awareness to other Alliance partners on workplace guidance materials that would be of interest to our shared constituents, which led to the placement of our PPE infographic for auto refinishers in the National Safety Council’s online Safety and Health Magazine.

During this new five-year agreement, the ACC OSHA Alliance will build upon our past achievements, form new relationships, and continue serving as a resource for worker safety for those individuals involved with diisocyanates and the broader chemical industry.

About the author
American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $486 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is among the largest exporters in the nation, accounting for ten percent of all U.S. goods exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

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