Process Safety Reminder: Close Out Prior Investigations’ Findings And Recommendations

The process safety of Washington, D.C.’s public rail transportation system is under criticism following another derailment earlier this month.  According to The Washington Post, the track problem that caused the latest derailment had been detected a month earlier but had not been fixed.  The organization’s interim general manager said, “I don’t want to mince words, but this was totally unacceptable.”  Chris Van Hollen, a Congressman from Maryland, called the incident “gross negligence” and demanded a more thorough investigation into the organization’s safety practices.

The report serves as a reminder to ensure that your company has process safety procedures in place that require the company to follow up and close out any prior findings and recommendations.  If a later incident occurs, any prior investigations’ findings and recommendations that have not been implemented are easy fodder for government investigators and plaintiffs’ attorneys.  In addition to have the procedures in place, the company should ensure that the procedures are actually being adhered to and that the prior findings and recommendations are in fact being closed out according to the procedures.  Similarly, if the company decides not to implement a prior finding or recommendation, then an appropriate process needs to be in place documenting the company’s reasoned decision-making.

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