Sunday, March 16, 2014

Public Comments on OSHA PSM ANPRM – 03-16-14

This is part of a continuing look at the public comments that have been posted to the docket for the OSHA Process Safety Management program advance notice of proposed rulemaking. Earlier posts in the series include:

This week we had 22 industry comments and 6 private citizen comments. The industries providing comments included:

Lighthouse for the Blind DBA (LHB Industries)
• ISN Software Corporation (No link provided)

E&P Comments

Two of the private citizen comments were specifically and negatively addressed at the possibility of OHSA removing the current oil field exploration and production (E&P) PSM exemption. Both noted that neither operation fits well within the confines of the current PSM regulations. They also predicted that costs would increase without a significant change in safety in those fields.

The limited size and remote locations for most E&P atmospheric storage tank and the limited number of employees working around them was suggested as an acceptable reason for their remaining under the current flammable liquid atmospheric storage tank exemption.

One commenter noted that production wells with high concentrations of H2S gas should be regulated under PSM regulations.

Reactive Chemistry Comments

Comments were made about the difficulty of writing a definition of reactive chemicals that was not too broad. A suggestion was made to use the ‘reactive substances’ definition from NFPA Code 400. Organic peroxides classified as Class I or Class II under NFPA Code 400 were specifically suggested for coverage under any proposed reactive chemistry provisions.

A private citizen made an interesting comment about the definition of reactive chemistry being important and complicated. He used the common chlorine bleach – ammonia cleaner reaction as an example; asking if a janitor killed were in such an incident would an OSHA inspector overreact to the facility ignoring the reactive chemistry issue? This is a bit extreme on the low side of the problem, but illustrative of the problem of defining reactive chemistry.

Adding ammonium nitrate to the PSM list based upon its reactivity was objected to as being duplicative since the use of anhydrous ammonia at an ammonium nitrate manufacturer would already place it under the PSM process.

Another private citizen recommended that a PHA for reactive chemical processes should be conducted by a Professional Engineer.

RAGAGEP Comments

A private citizen posted comments on the recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices (RAGAGEP) concept. He pointed out that such a definition would be useful if it were neither too broadly nor too narrowly defined. He included examples of conflicting code requirements making RAGAGEP hard to implement or enforce.

Negative comments were made (3) about requirements to keep up with changes in RAGAGEP standards. They noted that most smaller facilities did not have any way to keep up with changes in the wide variety of standards that might apply, or how they should be incorporated into existing processes that met current RAGAGEP standards when established.

Third Party Audits

A number of commenters (5) pointed out that many processes are so unique that an outside or 3rd party auditor would not be able adequately assess the safety issues involved, or at least not as well as someone from the organization that was actually familiar with the process. A private citizen commented that such audits should be conducted by a Professional Engineer.

It was noted that the current wording about third party audits in the ANPRM is so vague as to make it impossible to provide any comments about the potential cost of such a requirement.

Exemption for Flammable Liquids in Atmospheric Tanks

A private citizen provided detailed language for changes limiting the current exemption for flammable liquids in atmospheric storage tanks.

A question was raised about the wording of changes concerning atmospheric storage tanks, cautioning that injudicious wording could pull into the PSM process chemical storage tanks other than just flammable materials.

Another commenter noted that there is no real need to bring atmospheric storage tanks under coverage of the PSM standard since flammable liquid tanks are already covered under §1910.119 and many State and local government rules also specify NFPA 30 requirements in their regulations.

It was noted that removing the exemption could add a significant number of facilities to PSM coverage ranks and further burden an already over-extended OSHA inspection force. An alternative was suggested, noting that OSHA could phase in the addition of these tanks into the PSM over a period of time to decrease both the burden on OSHA but also on the affected facilities.

Highly Hazardous Chemical List

A private citizen recommended that new chemicals meeting the definition of toxic chemicals be placed upon an interim list when introduced. Then OSHA should periodically review the interim list and new data on those chemicals and formally add those determined to be highly hazardous to the Appendix A list.

Emergency Response Coordination

A private citizen provided specific language for changes to §1910.119(n) that would require annual meetings with local fire agency outlining processes and chemicals used with a plant tour. Another commenter suggested the adoption of NFPA 1620 if OSHA intends to adopt an emergency response coordination requirement.

Objections to adding ERP requirements to the PSM standards were raised (2) because this is already covered under the EPA RMP.

Commenters (3) note that facilities often currently have problems establishing coordination with LEPCs and local fire agencies. This is frequently due to budget and time limitations affecting those organizations.

Control System Coverage

After citing three different incidents related to SCADA failure, a commenter suggested that any OSHA PSM update include specific language and requirements for including control systems in PSM related activities.

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