Mitch Lagerstrom, Director of Consulting - EHS Practice
In recent decades there have been a number of catastrophic incidents from releases of highly hazardous chemicals (HHCs), which has brought attention to chemical process safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed regulations promulgated at 29 CFR §1910.119 that provides a proactive approach to identify, evaluate, and prevent releases of HHCs. These regulations require the development of 14 elements for each process that contains an HHC above a threshold quantity. These elements largely focus on preventing failures in processes, procedures, or equipment.
Likewise, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed regulations promulgated at 40 CFR §68 entitled “Chemical Accident Prevention Provisions,” which require the development of similar elements that are collectively referred to as an RMP. EPA’s regulation is more expansive than PSM, requiring development of an RMP for what it defines as a regulated substance. EPA included requirements to develop and submit a hazard assessment (40 CFR §68.20 et seq); not required under PSM. Hazard assessments contain an offsite consequence analysis for two scenarios (worst-case and alternative), evaluation of offsite impacts to the population and environment, and a five-year accident history.
It is important to note that Congress included a general duty clause (GDC) in §112(r)(1) of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. The GDC applies to regulated substances that are below a threshold quantity or any other chemicals which may be considered extremely hazardous (i.e. acutely toxic, flammable, explosive, corrosive, highly reactive, etc.). Below is a list of the 14 elements required under PSM with emphasis added for elements that (at a minimum) should be developed for regulated substances subject to the GDC:
After the PSM/RMP is developed, it needs to be maintained. Each section needs to be updated as changes occur. There are ongoing required activities, including triennial compliance audits, review and updates to PHA (at least every five years), and hazard assessment updates and submittal (at least every five years).