President signs Executive Order to improve chemical facility safety

U.S. President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order on Thursday to increase safety and security measures in chemical facilities in order to reduce the risk of harmful chemical incidents to workers and neighboring communities.

The order recognized the important role that chemicals and chemical facilities play in the world today. In response to the explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas, Obama issued the order to ensure that those in the direct line of manufacturing, storing or distributing chemical materials can handle them safely to ensure their own safety and the safety of the community surrounding the facility.

The new Executive Order, titled Chemical Facility Safety and Security, has four main goals: enhance operational collaboration between state and local parties, improve information sharing between federal agencies, update current policies, standards and guidelines and keep stakeholders involved to create best safety procedures.

Other government agencies have implemented their own procedures for upholding safety regulations in the chemical hazard sector. The Environmental Protection Agency rolled out the Risk Management Program, which keeps local authorities responsible for monitoring chemical hazardous materials and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, which gives local, state and tribal agencies guidelines to follow in the event of a chemical incident.

The Department of Labor, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice have also implemented programs to uphold safety for those handling chemical hazardous materials.