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In August 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order (EO) 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security, with the objective to “improve the safety and security of chemical facilities and reduce the risks of hazardous chemicals to workers and communities.” A key element of EO 13650 involves modernizing federal policies, regulations, and standards.
The Order specifically calls on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to, among other things, review the Process Safety Management (PSM) and Risk Management Program (RMP) rules to determine if their covered hazardous chemical lists should be expanded.
Over nine years have passed since EO 13650 was issued, and the PSM/RMP modernization efforts are still underway. EPA’s most recent action on August 31, 2022 proposed to strengthen the RMP regulations with the Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention (SCCAP) proposed rule. OSHA has yet to propose updates to the PSM rule, which has not been updated since its publication in 1992; however, the PSM rulemaking project is back on the Unified Agenda, and OSHA is working to make progress.
Progress on PSM
OSHA published the PSM standard (29 CFR 1910.119) in 1992 in response to several catastrophic chemical-release incidents. PSM requires employers to implement safety programs that identify, evaluate, and control highly hazardous chemicals. Unlike other standards, PSM is “performance-based” rather than prescriptive. It outlines 14 management system elements for controlling highly hazardous chemicals. Employers have the flexibility to tailor their PSM programs to the unique conditions at their facilities.
In response to EO 13650, OSHA published a Request for Information (RFI) in December 2013 and then completed a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel (SBAR) in June 2016. Following the SBAR, PSM was moved to the Long-Term Actions list on the Unified Agenda but was placed back on the Unified Agenda in Spring 2021.
Most recently, OSHA held an informal stakeholder meeting on October 12, 2022, to reengage stakeholders and solicit comments on the modernization topics mentioned in the RFI and SBAR panel report.
Potential PSM Changes
The PSM and RMP rules were written to complement each other. OSHA and EPA continue to coordinate as both agencies consider revisions to their respective rules. The Federal Register notice for OSHA’s stakeholder meeting lists the following potential changes to the scope of the current PSM standard that OSHA is considering:
- Clarifying the exemption for atmospheric storage tanks.
- Expanding the scope to include oil- and gas-well drilling and servicing.
- Resuming enforcement for oil and gas production facilities.
- Expanding PSM coverage and requirements for reactive chemical hazards.
- Updating and expanding the list of highly hazardous chemicals in Appendix A.
- Extending PSM requirements to cover dismantling and disposal of explosives and pyrotechnics.
- Clarifying the scope of the retail facilities exemption
- Defining the limits of a PSM-covered process.
- Including a definition of recognized and generally accepted as good engineering practices (RAGAGEP).
- Including a definition of critical equipment.
- Strengthening employee participation and including stop work authority.
- Requiring evaluation of updates to applicable RAGAGEP.
- Requiring continuous updating of collected information.
- Requiring formal resolution of Process Hazard Analysis team recommendations that are not utilized.
- Requiring safer technology and alternatives analysis.
- Requiring considering of natural disasters and extreme temperatures in their PSSM programs.
- Covering the mechanical integrity of any critical equipment.
- Better explaining equipment deficiencies.
- Clarifying organizational changes.
- Requiring root cause analysis.
- Requiring coordination of emergency planning with local emergency response authorities.
- Requiring third-party compliance audits.
- Developing a system for periodic review of and necessary revisions to their PSM management systems.
- Requiring the development of written procedures for all elements specified in the standard, and to identify records required by the standard along with a records retention policy.
While there is still much uncertainty regarding what potential changes may be made to the PSM standard—and when those changes could take effect—it is never too early for PSM-impacted facilities to consider the following:
- How might the potential changes listed above impact your business?
- What issues does your facility foresee with compliance?
- What systems, processes, procedures, plans, etc. does your facility need to ensure ongoing compliance?
KTL will continue to monitor developments with the PSM standard. As things progress, we can help you to:
- Identify/understand/prioritize your facility risks.
- Define organizational roles and responsibilities.
- Better manage documents and information to demonstrate compliance.
- Identify resources to help your facility comply with potential changes to the PSM standard.