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PT Notes

Executive Order Status Report Highlights - Modernizing OSHA's PSM Standard to Improve Safety and Enforcement

PT Notes is a series of topical technical notes provided periodically by Primatech for your benefit. Please feel free to provide feedback.

Executive Order 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security, was issued on August 1, 2013 owing to continued catastrophic chemical facility incidents. The Executive Order has the objective of enhancing the safety and security of chemical facilities and reducing risks associated with hazardous chemicals to owners and operators, workers, and communities. A Working Group was appointed to oversee work on the Executive Order.

The Working Group published a status report on June 6, 2014. An analysis of the current operating environment, existing regulatory programs, and stakeholder feedback resulted in immediate actions and a Federal Action Plan for future actions to further minimize risks.

This PT Note highlights actions from the Plan relating to modernizing OSHA's PSM standard to improve safety and enforcement. The Plan calls for these actions within the next year:

  • Clarify confusing and misunderstood policies.
    • Revise the current interpretation of "retail facilities" based on comments received in OSHA's PSM Request for Information (RFI) process to more accurately reflect the original intent of the exemption as expressed in the PSM Preamble to the Final Rule.
    • Revise the current interpretation of chemical concentrations covered by OSHA's PSM standard to more clearly describe what is covered and align with better established practices.
  • As a next step towards developing a proposed rule to modernize the PSM standard, initiate the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act review, in order to solicit small business views on modernizing the PSM standard.
  • Based on information collected from the OSHA RFI and the executive order Section 6 Options document, the PSM rulemaking will consider, among other things:
    • Clarifying the PSM standard to incorporate lessons learned from enforcement, incident investigation, and advancements in industry practices, root cause analysis, process safety metrics, enhanced employee involvement, third-party audits, and emergency response practices.
    • Addressing ammonium nitrate hazards through one or both of the following options:

1) Covering reactive chemical hazards under the PSM standard.

2) Adding ammonium nitrate specifically to the PSM Appendix A highly hazardous chemicals list.

    • Adding substances or classes of substances to the PSM Appendix A List of Highly Hazardous Chemicals and providing more expedient methods for future updates.
    • Expanding coverage and requirements for reactive chemical hazards, which have resulted in many incidents.
    • Covering oil and gas drilling and servicing operations that currently are exempt from PSM coverage.
    • Continuing harmonization with EPA's RMP regulation.
    • Requiring analysis of safer technology and alternatives.
    • Requiring coordination between chemical facilities and emergency responders to ensure that emergency responders know how to use chemical information to safely respond to accidental releases, possibly including exercises and drills.

The Working Group report is available at: https://www.osha.gov/chemicalexecutiveorder/

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