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Process safety is vital despite deepening recession

05 January 2009

Even as the global recession worsens, US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) Chairman John Bresland has sent the hazardous area sector a new year's message stressing that chemical companies and refineries need to continue to invest in process safety and preventive maintenance, even as the economic downturn cuts into sales and profits. In his first video safety message, Bresland insists that spending on process safety must not be overlooked despite these troubled times.

Process safety and accident prevention during recession
Process safety and accident prevention during recession

“My safety message for oil and chemical companies is clear: even during economic downturns, spending for needed process safety measures must be maintained,” Bresland stated in the message. Bresland noted that the CSB investigation of the 2005 Texas City refinery disaster linked the accident to corporate spending decisions in the 1990s, when low oil prices triggered cutbacks in maintenance, training, and operator positions at the plant.

“Unfortunately, around the country, refinery accidents continue to be a concern,” Bresland said, pointing to three major accidents that occurred at refineries in Texas in 2008, including a fire at a refinery in Tyler in November that fatally burned two workers and forced the refinery to shut down for months. 'Today, as gasoline prices remain low, companies should weigh each decision to make sure that the safety of plant workers, contractors, and communities is protected.”

Safety Messages are a communication tool for the agency, consisting of short videos from the Chairman or the other board members. In the coming weeks and months, messages will be released on a variety of current issues in chemical process safety.

The four-minute video message was released on and its can be viewed from the link below. The text has also been posted on

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