How Modified Guidance and Revised Regulations May Affect Your Facilities

In the March 14, 2016 Federal Register, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed significant revisions to its accidental release prevention requirements, often referred to as the Risk Management Program (40 CFR Part 68). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is expected to follow suit soon by implementing similar changes to its process safety management (PSM) standard, per 29 CFR Part 1910 Section 119.

These anticipated changes will serve to modernize these regulations and are being proposed in direct response to catastrophic industrial accidents such as the April 2013 ammonium nitrate fertilizer plant explosion that occurred in West, Texas.

Even prior to proposing changes to the PSM standard, OSHA issued clarifying guidance in 2015 that significantly alters the scope and applicability of the standard. These changes have not been well documented and may represent significant compliance risk to facilities that are unaware of these recent regulatory interpretations.

The combination of new regulatory requirements under OSHA’s PSM and USEPA’s RMP regulations, whether expressed in the form of revised regulations, or implementing guidance, represents a compliance management risk for many companies.

The latest changes would broaden the applicability of the rules, alter the manner in which compliance with the rule is demonstrated and, in a worst-case scenario, impose significant design standard requirements on affected equipment.

Although PSM and RMP currently only apply to a limited number of facilities (i.e., those that have more than a threshold amount in a process), both OSHA and the Clean Air Act have “General Duty” clauses that extend the requirements of both rules to otherwise unaffected facilities. A recent USEPA enforcement initiative under the RMP regulation illustrates the seriousness with which the agencies view process safety and risk management as everyone’s responsibility.

 

To learn more about how theses changes could affect your operations, join NAEM for the November 19 webinar on “Regulatory Changes Ahead: Preparing for PSM and RMP Updates”

 

About Matt Traister

Matt Traister is a Vice President with O'Brien & Gere in Cincinnati, where he helps clients identify cost-saving measures and/or reduce their environmental footprint in the areas of energy, water and greenhouse gas emissions.

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