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Workplace safety at California’s oil refineries could get a reboot after the Department of Industrial Relations’ Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board on Thursday approved a regulation providing a framework for anticipating, preventing and responding to refinery hazards.
The rule now moves to the state’s Office of Administrative Law, which has 30 days to approve the changes.
According to the Oakland-based California Department of Industrial Relations, the new regulation would require refinery employers to conduct damage mechanism reviews for processes that result in equipment or material degradation that could lead to injuries and require analysis of human factors such as staffing levels, training and competency, fatigue and other effects of shift work that have the potential to create dangerous scenarios, among other changes.
Most refineries in California have adopted some of these practices over the past decade, seeing significant improvement in safety performance, according to the department. However, the industry still experiences major incidents that pose a risk to workers, nearby communities and cause disruption to fuel services, the department said in a statement.
“This new regulation will ensure California’s oil refineries are operated with the highest levels of safety possible and with injury and illness prevention in mind,” Christine Baker, director of the California Department of Industrial Relations, said in the statement.
With many workers spending the majority of their day sitting at a desk, some employers are encouraging employees to move during the day to improve their health. But safety experts say the trend could increase the risk of injury for workers, offsetting the health benefits.