Update from CSB Chairman

April 2, 2021

At the public meeting today, 02, April 2021, the CSB discussed management priorities, provided an update on guidance for Board Member Roles and Responsibilities and gave an overview on three recommendations status changes from its 2016 Airgas investigation.

Management priorities:

Focus on the mission: To drive chemical safety change, we need to continue delivering high-quality safety product to the community. Last month we announced that, in the first quarter of FY21, we had made progress on 28 recommendation status changes. I’m pleased to report that, in the past month, we’ve made progress on 10 more safety recommendation status changes, three of which we will highlight today.

In addition, I mentioned that the draft investigation report was prepared by staff for the incident that occurred in Odessa, TX in October 2019 at the Aghorn Operating facility – a Waterflood Station.  We are in the board review process and anticipate having this complete and scheduling a virtual Board Meeting in 4-6 weeks.

Drive efficiency of operations: expanding our workforce and improving business partnerships.

I’m pleased to announce that we’ve submitted 4 investigator positions to our HR business partner that are expected to be posted on USA Jobs shortly, with another round of investigator positions to follow.

Strengthen stakeholder and federal counterpart relationships to maximize our resources. Last month I discussed what to expect from the CSB moving forward, and I focused on transparency and communication. As promised, we will be holding a public Board Meeting to close the Aghorn investigation report in the next 4 – 6 weeks.

You’ll hear directly from our technical staff as they walk through the facts, analysis, conclusions, probable cause statement, and recommendations.

Although I’m currently the only board member, we will follow the process as if there were more board members, and I will pose questions to the team. I’m pleased to announce that we will be able to hold this board meeting virtually, so that you can see the process live. This is setting the pace for a more transparent CSB moving forward.

Board Member Roles and Responsibilities (BMRR)

We have invested many hours over the past year, investigating the best approach for the CSB moving forward. I’m pleased to report that we have now finalized changes in response to the IG reports dating back to at least 2018.

  • This is a major step forward for the efficiency of the agency,
    • will allow me to focus on my work as a board member and Chairman,
    • as well as provide a governance architecture that allows new board members to be successful.

The new Board Order more closely aligns board member roles and responsibilities to our enabling legislation, which requires all board members to be appointed on the basis of:

  • technical qualification, professional standing, and demonstrated knowledge in the fields of
  • accident reconstruction, safety engineering, human factors, toxicology, or air pollution regulation.

The new Board Order

  • allows board members to better focus on their mission through engaging in technical reviews, stakeholder collaboration and community outreach, and
  • empowers the Chairman and CSB staff through delegation to act in the administration of the agency.

The new Board Order provides for:

  • an express process in the instance of Board Member misconduct, and
  • adopts several best practices from similarly situated and constructed agencies, most notably the NTSB. 

The CSB discussed three recommendations status changes issued to the Compressed Gas Association (CGA), stemming from the agency’s investigation into 2016 nitrous oxide explosion at the Airgas manufacturing facility in Cantonment, Florida. The blast killed the only Airgas employee working at the facility that day and heavily damaged the plant, halting its manufacturing of nitrous oxide indefinitely.

Recommendation Status Changes:

Speaking notes for the entire meeting, to include the Office of Investigations and Recommendations, are available at csb.gov.

As with all CSB public meetings, a transcript will be made available and posted to the following link: https://www.csb.gov/about-the-csb/business-meeting-votes-/

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