Hazmat Risk Management Takes Total Effort
Aug 22, 2001 12:00 PM, By Charles E Wilson, Editor
All of the players in the distribution of chemicals and other hazardous materials need to do a better job of risk management. More importantly, they need to work together because safe transportation and risk reduction are joint responsibilities.
These were among the points made by Cherry Burke, distribution safety consultant at the DuPont Safety, Health, and Environment Excellence Center. She spoke August 22 during the Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety inter-industry workshop in New Orleans LA.
One of the challenges companies face is in determining how much data is required to adequately determine hazmat distribution risk levels. How much quantification is needed? Burke cautioned hazmat shippers to avoid the temptation of using a quick computerized route assessment instead of a broad-based risk reduction evaluation.
The Distribution Code that is part of the Responsible Care process provides an excellent risk management framework. Sections of the code help chemical companies determine when and what additional measures are necessary to manage risks.
Data for risk management comes from a variety of sources—internal company processes, inter-industry collaboration, improved and expanded incident reporting through the Department of Transportation’s DOT 5800.1 reports. Care must be exercised in data evaluation, though.
Burke warned that chemical shippers make a mistake when they focus overwhelming attention on fatality statistics. There is a tendency of management to look at only catastrophic risks, which are scary but usually very low probability. Some companies use this approach to “excuse” themselves from establishing a risk management program. Others develop programs that ignore the risks and consequences of other less-hazardous materials.