OSHA to Hold Stakeholder Meeting on Process Safety Management Rulemaking
On August 30, 2022, OSHA announced an informal stakeholder meeting regarding the rulemaking project for the Process Safety Management (PSM) standard regarding highly hazardous chemicals. The meeting had previously been scheduled for September 28, 2022. The stakeholder meeting will be held virtually from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, on Wednesday, October 12, 2022. Registration to participate in or observe the stakeholder meeting will be open until all spots are full. Written comments must be submitted by November 14, 2022. More information is available in the Federal Register (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/09/20/2022-20261/process-safety-management-psm-stakeholder-meeting).
OSHA published the PSM standard (29 CFR 1910.119) in 1992 in response to several catastrophic chemical-release incidents that occurred worldwide. The PSM standard requires employers to implement safety programs that identify, evaluate, and control highly hazardous chemicals. Unlike some of OSHA's standards, which prescribe precisely what employers must do to comply, the PSM standard is “performance-based,” and outlines 14 management system elements for controlling highly hazardous chemicals. Under the standard, employers have the flexibility to tailor their PSM programs to the unique conditions at their facilities.
Since its publication in 1992, the PSM standard has not been updated. The 2013 ammonium nitrate explosion at a fertilizer storage facility in West, Texas renewed interest in PSM. In response to this incident, on August 1, 2013, Executive Order (E.O.) 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security, was signed. The E.O. directed OSHA and several other federal agencies to, among other things, modernize policies, regulations, and standards to enhance safety and security in chemical facilities by completing certain tasks, including: coordinating with stakeholders to develop a plan for implementing improvements to chemical risk managements practices, developing proposals to improve the safe and secure storage handling and sale of ammonium nitrate, and reviewing the PSM and Risk Management Plan (RMP) rules to determine if their covered hazardous chemical lists should be expanded.
Additionally, the E.O. directed that within 90 days, OSHA should publish a Request for Information (RFI) to identify issues related to modernization of its PSM standard and related standards necessary to meet the goal of preventing major chemical accidents. OSHA published the RFI in December 2013, and subsequently initiated and completed a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel (SBAR) in June 2016. Following the SBAR panel, PSM was moved to the Long-Term Actions list on the Unified Agenda.
OSHA has continued to work on the PSM standard rulemaking and PSM was placed back on the Unified Agenda in the spring of 2021. OSHA has stated it is holding this stakeholder meeting to reengage stakeholders and solicit comments on the modernization topics mentioned in the RFI and SBAR panel report, as well as any additional PSM-related issues stakeholders would like to raise.
The potential changes to the scope of the current PSM standard that OSHA is considering include:
1. Clarifying the exemption for atmospheric storage tanks;
2. Expanding the scope to include oil- and gas-well drilling and servicing;
3. Resuming enforcement for oil and gas production facilities;
4. Expanding PSM coverage and requirements for reactive chemical hazards;
5. Updating and expanding the list of highly hazardous chemicals in Appendix A;
6. Amending paragraph (k) of the Explosives and Blasting Agents Standard (§ 1910.109) to extend PSM requirements to cover dismantling and disposal of explosives and pyrotechnics;
7. Clarifying the scope of the retail facilities exemption; and
8. Defining the limits of a PSM-covered process.
The potential changes to particular provisions of the current PSM standard that OSHA is considering include:
1. Amending paragraph (b) to include a definition of RAGAGEP;
2. Amending paragraph (b) to include a definition of critical equipment;
3. Expanding paragraph (c) to strengthen employee participation and include stop work authority;
4. Amending paragraph (d) to require evaluation of updates to applicable recognized and generally accepted as good engineering practices (RAGAGEP);
5. Amending paragraph (d) to require continuous updating of collected information;
6. Amending paragraph (e) to require formal resolution of Process Hazard Analysis team recommendations that are not utilized;
7. Expanding paragraph (e) by requiring safer technology and alternatives analysis;
8. Clarifying paragraph (e) to require consideration of natural disasters and extreme temperatures in their PSM programs, in response to E.O. 13990;
9. Expanding paragraph (j) to cover the mechanical integrity of any critical equipment;
10. Clarifying paragraph (j) to better explain “equipment deficiencies;”
11. Clarifying that paragraph (l) covers organizational changes;
12. Amending paragraph (m) to require root cause analysis;
13. Revising paragraph (n) to require coordination of emergency planning with local emergency-response authorities;
14. Amending paragraph (o) to require third-party compliance audits;
15. Including requirements for employers to develop a system for periodic review of and necessary revisions to their PSM management systems (previously referred to as “Evaluation and Corrective Action”); and
16. 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 (previously referred to as “Written PSM Management Systems”).