Report Finds Widespread Flaws in Hazardous Chemical Reporting

A recent Reuters investigation revealed widespread flaws in the way hazardous chemicals are identified and disclosed to the public in the United States. A decades-old program intended to inform the public about potential health and safety risks caused by hazardous chemicals is fraught with flaws, the report contends, owing largely to inadequate oversight and lax compliance by facility owners.

Federal law requires private and public facilities to maintain an inventory of all potentially hazardous chemicals stored on site, and to file the inventory with state, county and local government officials. By law, these chemical inventories, known as Tier II reports, must be made publicly available to help with emergency preparation and response. Despite the law, however, many facilities fail to properly identify the chemicals and their locations, and in some cases do not report them at all.

Failure to disclose chemical hazards puts employees at risk

When companies fail to accurately identify the hazardous chemicals on their premises, it can greatly increase the risk of injury to employees, emergency responders and nearby residents in the event of a fire, explosion or other dangerous situation. This is because firefighters and other emergency responders must rely on the information supplied in the Tier II reports to determine how best to respond to a developing emergency situation.

For example, when a facility owner fails to disclose the presence of explosive substances or inaccurately states their location on the premises, firefighters may inadvertently trigger an explosion when responding to a fire. On the other hand, falsely reporting the presence of explosives can also create added danger by causing responders to let a fire burn rather than attempt to put it out.

According to a report issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2013, there have been approximately 60 deaths and over 1,300 injuries since 2005 at U.S. facilities where the most dangerous Tier II chemicals are stored, Reuters reported.

Compensation for Ohio work injuries

In Ohio, workers who are harmed by exposure to toxic chemicals or other unsafe conditions in the workplace may be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits to help defray the costs of their injuries and lost income.

Likewise, when Ohio workers die as a result of fires, explosions or other workplace hazards, their surviving family members may be entitled to monetary benefits through the Ohio workers' compensation system. In certain cases involving the negligence of a third party, the dependents of a deceased Ohio worker may also be able to receive additional financial compensation by filing a wrongful death claim.

For more information about seeking compensation after a work-related injury or death in Ohio, contact a knowledgeable workers' compensation attorney.