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This page contains previous items from our Latest News feature.

UPDATE - New Appeals Court Interpretation of the PSM Standard

Publish Date: 2021-01-13
Category: Industry News

Update - As a result of the lower court's decision on this case, the US Supreme Court will now hear an appeal of the case. Wynnewood Refining argues that without access to waivers, many small refineries won't be able to keep their doors open.

In 2012, a natural gas explosion in a steam boiler at the Wynnewood Refinery in Oklahoma resulted in two workplace fatalities. OSHA pursued an enforcement case against the refinery claiming that the steam boiler was a PSM-covered process, even though it did not contain any highly hazardous chemicals, because it was interconnected to two other units at the refinery that were subject to PSM.

A recent decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed OSHA’s interpretation by stating that a vessel does not need to contain a highly hazardous chemical to be subject to the PSM standard provided the vessel is interconnected to a process that is subject to the standard.  Scalia v. Wynnewood Refining Co., LLC, __  F.3d. __ (10th Cir. 2020) 2020 WL 6279210.

As a consequence of the decision, OSHA may expand the boundaries of PSM-covered processes to include additional equipment, which would impact what must be addressed by facility process safety programs. EPA’s RMP Program 3 facilities are also impacted.

CSB Deploys to Optima Chemical LLC Incident

Publish Date: 2020-12-14
Category: Industry News

The CSB has deployed an incident investigation team to the Optima Chemical LLC facility in Belle, WV. A shelter-in-place was ordered within a 2-mile radius of the facility after the incident occurred on Tuesday, December 8th. The CSB has initially reported a pressure vessel over-pressured, causing a fire which resulted in one fatality and at least two injuries. Debris from the incident was found up to a mile away.

Primatech's Dr. Paul Baybutt authors paper, On the Need for System-Theoretic Hazard Analysis in the Process Industries

Publish Date: 2020-12-01
Category: Primatech News

The paper will appear in the Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, Volume 69, January 2021.

The article can be accessed for free on Science Direct until January 15, 2021 by clicking here. No sign up or registration is needed.


Most process hazard analysis (PHA) studies today are conducted using traditional methods such as the hazard and operability study (HAZOP). Traditional methods are based on a chain-of-events model of accident causality. Current models of accident causality are based on systems theory and provide a more complete representation of the causal factors involved in accidents. Consequently, it is logical to expect that PHA methods should reflect these models, that is, system-theoretic hazard analysis (STHA) should be used. Indeed, system-theoretic process analysis (STPA) has been developed as such a method. STPA has been used in a variety of industries but, at this time, it has not gained acceptance by the process industries. This article explores the reasons for this situation. Expectations for PHA in the process industries are examined and issues for the application of STPA in the process industries are discussed. It is concluded that a variety of matters must be addressed before STPA can be considered as a viable PHA method for the process industries and the case for the use of STHA in the process industries is not yet proven.

2021 Training Schedule Released

Publish Date: 2020-10-07
Category: Primatech News

Get a head start on your 2021 process safety training plan. Primatech's offerings can be delivered face-to-face or live-streamed with an instructor who answers questions and leads exercises and workshops to provide an interactive learning experience.

Click here to see the schedule.

CSB Issues "Dust Hazard Learning Review" Document

Publish Date: 2020-09-14
Category: Industry News

On Friday, September 10, 2020 the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) released a new document entitled, “Dust Hazard Learning Review". It was produced following the Didion Milling facility’s 2017 explosion in Cambria, WI, and identifies key barriers to improvement in the control and mitigation of combustible dust hazards. The document was created utilizing responses gathered by the CSB on the management, control, and understanding of combustible dust from industry regulators, inspectors, safety training providers, researchers, unions, and workers affected by dust-related hazards.

Hurricane Laura Causes Fire at Bio-Lab Chemical Plant

Publish Date: 2020-09-04
Category: Industry News

Following the landfall of Hurricane Laura early the morning of Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020 a chemical plant fire occurred at a Westlake, Louisiana facility owned by Bio-Lab. Bio-Lab produces products for pools and spas that contain chlorine and they also produce and store trichloroisocyanuric acid. Bio-Lab started its shutdown procedure on Monday, Aug. 24 which was completed by the following day. Prior to Hurricane Laura’s arrival, the shutdown crew was ordered to evacuate on Tuesday, Aug. 25. The ride-out crew of nine employees stayed in place until they were evacuated Wednesday, Aug. 26. The ride-out crew returned Thursday morning to find the fire and also noticed a section of the roof was damaged by Hurricane Laura. The CSB deployed a response team, and have begun to investigate the incident.

Primatech's Dr. Paul Baybutt authors paper, Metrics and Analytics for Process Hazard Analysis (PHA)

Publish Date: 2020-09-01
Category: Primatech News

The paper will appear in the Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, Volume 68, November 2020, 104268.

The article can be accessed for free on Science Direct until October 11, 2020 by clicking here. No sign up or registration is needed.


Process hazard analysis (PHA) studies (e.g. HAZOP) identify hazard scenarios and each scenario is examined individually to decide whether risk reduction measures are needed. However, much more can be done to benefit from the contents of studies.

PHA studies contain so much data that a manual review is precluded from yielding insights into their results. Fortunately, valuable information can be extracted using metrics and analytics that consider all the contents of a PHA study. The management of safety, operability, reliability, utilization, and loss prevention can all be improved.

Metrics evaluate the contents of PHA studies to provide insights into the safety of processes and the quality of studies. Measures of process safety and study quality can be compared with norms to identify possible departures that may need to be addressed.

Rather than focusing decision making on the risks of individual hazard scenarios, as is common practice, analytics enable a deeper analysis of the entire set of scenarios for a process. This enables better decisions to be made on where and how risk reduction resources should be allocated. Analytics can also be used to prioritize maintenance, training, and other activities.

Various analytics and metrics for PHA studies are described together with examples that illustrate their use.

PHAWorks 5 Expires on June 30

Publish Date: 2020-06-01
Category: Primatech News

PHAWorks 5 is being retired on June 30, 2020. Technical support, including bug fixes and security patches, will not be provided or be available after that date.

PHAWorks 5 is being replaced by PHAWorks RA Edition and the entry-level software, PHAWorks Lite. Both programs allow you to conduct PHA and LOPA studies together in the same worksheet.

Contact Shawn today to upgrade to the new software before support expires on June 30, 2020.

CSB Releases New Guidance Document for Boards of Directors on High Hazard Accident Prevention

Publish Date: 2020-05-26
Category: Industry News

The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a new guidance document on May 14, 2020 entitled, "CSB Best Practice Guidance for Corporate Boards of Directors and Executives in the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry for Major Accident Prevention."

The document addresses the importance of the role of boards of directors and executives in ensuring that there are effective safety management systems in place to properly manage risks, with the goal of preventing major accidents and protecting workers, the public, and the environment.

The guidance document provides twelve specific recommendations including ensuring that a robust safety management system is in place, promoting a strong process safety culture, ensuring that at least one of the company's directors is competent to gather, assess, and communicate important process safety information; and establishing a board champion who initiates discussion at all board meetings and leads process safety oversight and other initiatives on behalf of the board.

Click here to read the document.

Managing the Risks of Producing Hand Sanitizer

Publish Date: 2020-05-07
Category: Primatech News

Primatech was recently contracted to perform a MOC PHA for a company that wants to help alleviate the national shortage of hand sanitizer that is needed to help control the coronavirus. The company plans to change a packaging line to handle isopropyl alcohol, a key but hazardous ingredient in hand sanitizer. Primatech is thrilled to assist the company with the PHA and help in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, other companies may decide to change their operations to assist with the national response to the pandemic. Companies may need to handle unfamiliar and possibly hazardous materials. While companies will want to move quickly in changing operations, they should not sacrifice safety in doing so. If your company is considering possible changes to your facility, please do not hesitate to reach out to Primatech to see how we may be of assistance in helping you identify new risks at your facility.