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Group Hits Chemical Industry Accident Rate

April 19, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 16

The safety record of American Chemistry Council member companies was criticized in a recent report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG). Using National Response Center data, the group says the incident rate for ACC member companies has stayed about the same from 1990 to 2003, despite the association's Responsible Care program. The group notes that ACC members reported to the center about 2,000 accidents a decade ago and about the same in 2003. However, U.S. PIRG acknowledges weaknesses in this information--it is based only on self-reporting, and companies must report a huge range of incidents from a spill to a worker death. The center, however, remains the only federal clearinghouse for tabulating real-time chemical accident data, an issue that has long plagued companies, unions, and the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (C&EN, Dec. 2, 2002, page 25). ACC responded to the report by saying its members' safety record is four times better than that for all U.S. manufacturing. To back up the claim, ACC cited internally generated company data reported to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, together with Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that are based on a weighted sample of company-reported information for all manufacturers.


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