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President signs executive order to reduce chemical risks

On August 1, 2013, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order on improving chemical facility safety and security. The goal of the order is to safeguard workplaces and communities by reducing the dangers posed by chemicals. 

“Chemicals, and the facilities where they are manufactured, stored, distributed, and used, are essential to today's economy. Past and recent tragedies have reminded us, however, that the handling and storage of chemicals are not without risk,” wrote the President. “The Federal Government has developed and implemented numerous programs aimed at reducing the safety risks and security risks associated with hazardous chemicals. However, additional measures can be taken by executive departments and agencies with regulatory authority to further improve chemical facility safety and security in coordination with owners and operators.”  

The Executive Order instructs the government to improve cooperation with state and local agencies, develop better systems for information sharing among Federal agencies, identify best practices, and ensure standards, regulations, and policies are up to date.

Employers can help reduce chemical risks by working with agencies in an effort to modernize standards, policies, and regulations, create strong injury and illness prevention programs, and identify best practices. Protect workers exposed to hazardous chemicals by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) like respiratory protection, gloves, and protective clothing.

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