Stepping Up Chem Plant, Refinery Inspections

Monday, January 30, 2017 @ 03:01 PM gHale


Chemical facilities and oil refineries covered under OSHA’s Process Safety Management program could see closer attention from inspectors under new instructions issued in the final days of the Obama administration.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) explained the changes in a directive, “PSM Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program” (CPL 03-00-021) dated Jan. 17 and released Jan. 23.

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The changes renew a National Emphasis Program for facilities with highly hazardous chemicals above specified quantities and for the first time incorporates oil refineries under the same document.

The document instructs agency inspectors to use data from EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP) to identify sites for closer attention.

Other changes include specifying fireworks manufacturing facilities being explosives manufacturing plants. OSHA updated its guidelines for inspecting fireworks manufacturers, storage facilities and stores in 2011 (CPL 01-01-053).

Under OSHA’s Process Safety Management program, facilities with covered chemicals above certain levels must take actions to avoid the chances of an unplanned release. OSHA issued 727 violations totaling a proposed $3,094,187 in fines for violations of the PSM program in 2016, according to agency data.

The emphasis program supersedes a program from November 2011, the document said.

The directive said inspections associated with the program “will begin immediately in all regions.” But, with OSHA and the Labor Department without Senate-confirmed leadership, it is unclear if the document will lead to a change in OSHA policies.

“This is one action item OSHA was able to take immediately and appears to be a way for the agency to leverage its inspection resources to make sure EPA RMP facilities are covered,” said Jennifer Gibson, vice president of regulatory affairs at the National Association of Chemical Distributors.

Click here to review the new order.



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