The computer year 2000 problem pose significant world-wide chemical safety problems. Nations and organizations are at various stages of dealing with the issue. Relevant available information should be shared regarding steps which have been taken and which should be taken, and contingency plans developed to reduce the potential adverse impacts to health and safety.
Chemical safety concerns include complete failure of safety-related systems (control and protection), malfunctions of embedded microprocessors in equipment, and potential failure to respond correctly to program instructions. In the chemical manufacturing area much has already been done by governments and industry, but there are gaps, most particularly in small- and medium-sized companies, and governments. Much effort should be directed towards embedded systems which include alarm systems, computer motherboards, system controls, lighting controls, process controllers, pumps, refrigeration controls, and valves. The need is manifest to establish health and safety protection as the highest priority. In addition to continuing or initiating actions to prevent failures, all governments and organizations dealing with the problem are encouraged to develop contingency planning, including, where appropriate, manual override systems to deal with various types of failures. Both industry and governments must assume responsibility for the safe operation of chemical installations: governments must alert industry to possible problems; industry must self-police its hazardous chemical installations; and governments must be prepared to act immediately when notified of specific problems.