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A Brief History of Environmental Health & Safety: Seveso Disaster




The Seveso Reaction

In 1976, near Milan, Italy there was an accident at a small chemical manufacturing plant. As the plant was shutting down for the weekend the operational portion of the facility was finalizing a batch of chemicals that included dioxin, a component of Agent Orange. The chemical production relied on the ability to control the liquid’s temperature. As electrical power at the plant was drawing down for the weekend, the proper temperatures could not be maintained to finish production of the chemical batch.

Workers decided to heat the chemical batch with steam as opposed to the normal operating procedure. However, they did not have an accurate way to measure the steam temperature. Not realizing steam was heating other parts of the reactor they stopped the stirrer and shut the reactor down according to procedure. Unfortunately, because of an inability to read the proper temperature, a reaction occurred that didn’t allow the batch to finish cooling.

The relief valve actuated, releasing concentrated amounts of dioxin into the neighboring community of Seveso where it killed 3,000 animals within days, inflamed skin with lesions, and destroyed all locally grown fruit and vegetables.


The Remedy For Poor Health & Safety Training in Seveso

This disaster inspired what European Union Law dubbed the Seveso Directive. It was major legislation at the time, and its goal was to ensure the safety of the workers, the surrounding communities, and the environment’s natural resources. It was a proactive approach to dealing with the possibility of dangerous accidents like the one that occurred in Seveso. It placed an emphasis on both training for disasters and training to avoid them in situations where volatile materials are a necessity.


The Efficiency Benefit of Environmental Health & Safety Training

Environmental Health & Safety has come a long way since then. Environmental Health & Safety training increases productivity because it presents a method of administering awareness about safety and health concerns faced on any job site. It also adds to a facility’s efficiency by keeping workers healthy and safe from easily avoidable work-related harm.

At Talon/LPE we offer numerous Environmental Health & Safety Training programs. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, we can make yours a safer and more efficient workplace. We can custom tailor a program for you. We also offer curricula that satisfy OSHA, EPA, DOT and other regulatory agency requirements. Contact us today to see how we can help.

Topics: Environmental Health & Safety