SOCMA Members Testify on Panel for New OSHA Emergency Response Standard

By Robert F. Helminiak, VP, Legal & Government Relations

October 13, 2021

The Small Business Administration (SBA) in conjunction with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will convene a panel to collect stakeholder input on a proposed new health and safety standard for Emergency Response over four days (October 14, 19, 20 and 21). SOCMA members Ascensus Specialties, represented by Matt Manna, and DanChem, represented by Jonathon Draper, and VanDeMark Chemical, Inc., represented by Chris Banach, will each testify before a panel of OSHA and SBA staff to share the unique concerns and perspectives of the specialty chemical industry regarding the proposed new standard.

The Emergency Response standard would replace the current Fire Brigades standard and would expand those covered beyond industrial fire brigades to include workplace emergency response teams, plant emergency organizations and others.

Some of the potential concerns with the new standard include:

  • Extensive medical testing and fitness requirements,
  • Behavioral and mental health screening mandates, and
  • Equipment requirements.

Additionally, there is potential for duplicative or conflicting requirements with other standards like Process Safety Management of highly hazardous chemicals (PSM), and Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPR), which specialty chemical manufacturers already adhere to.

The goal of these Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panels, led by the SBA Office of Advocacy is to identify rules, such as the proposed new Emergency Response standard, that will potentially have a significant economic impact on small businesses and provide a venue for these small business stakeholders to share their concerns and feedback prior to the publication of the rule.

SOCMA members will use this opportunity to convey how the Agency’s potential regulatory framework may impact specialty chemical manufacturers, and to suggest ways to minimize those impacts while meeting OSHA’s statutory goals. While the focus of the panel is on small business impacts, specialty chemical manufacturers of all sizes will benefit from the input and testimony provided by SOCMA members, with the goal of ensuring that the new standard balances worker health and safety with the unique operational realties of a specialty chemical plant.

The panel will also hear from other industries that would be impacted by the new standard, such as:

  • Small commercial or volunteer fire departments, EMS and ambulance service workers,
  • Oil and gas industry workers,
  • Heavy equipment and crane operators,
  • Technical rescuers and others.

Following the four days of witness testimony, the SBA Office of Advocacy will create a report with recommendations for OSHA with its analysis of the small business impacts and suggest possible approaches to modify the standard to minimize impacts on these entities. The report will be published in December of this year, and SOCMA will keep members apprised as the process progresses.

On behalf of the full SOCMA membership, we extend our thanks to Ascensus Specialties, Danchem, and VanDeMark Chemical, Inc. for their time and efforts on this important issue.

To watch the proceedings or learn more about the proposed standard, please visit OSHA website: Emergency Response SBREFA | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (

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