Sunday, April 6, 2014

Public Comments on OSHA PSM ANPRM – 04-06-14

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:

The comment period on this request for information or advanced notice of proposed rulemaking closed on Monday. There were 48 new submissions posted this last week, almost as many as had been posted in all of the previous weeks. Four of the submissions were from private citizens; the remaining comments came from the following organizations:

As I have been doing with the recent posts in this series I will address only the new ideas mentioned in these comments.

Ammonium Nitrate

A number of commenters note that including fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate under §1910.109 may be more appropriate than having it regulated under the PSM standard (§1910.119), but even that would require significant revisions to the existing standards.

 Emergency Response Coordination

A recommendation was made that any added OSHA emergency response coordination requirement be closely aligned with the EPA’s requirements in this area under the RMP program. While mainly duplicative they should not be contradictory.

Another commenter noted that OSHA already addresses the requirements for an emergency action plan in §1910.38.

Demonstrated Improvement in Safety

A number of commenters have noted that OSHA has not suggested any information that would indicate that the suggestions for changes in the PSM standards would provide any significant improvement in safety. Many have mentioned that all of the incidents mentioned in the RFI as justifications for making changes to the PSM standard were all clearly the result of failures to comply with current PSM requirements.

Comments not Reviewed in Detail

I’m sorry but I have to admit that there were two comments that I did not review closely for purposes of this post; the comments from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) and the comments from the Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center (MKOPSC). Both of these comments were extensive and comprehensive. Any abstraction of the information presented in those comments for inclusion in this post would be a disservice.

I would recommend that anyone interested in chemical process safety should take the time to read both of these documents.

Moving Forward

It will be interesting to see if anything actually comes from this effort. It is clear from many of the industry comments submitted that there is some perceived need for updating the PSM requirements. That is still countered by a general industry reluctance to accepting an increase in the regulatory burden. Almost all industry commenters noted that any rulemaking needs to be preceded by a detailed cost-benefit analysis with a clear identification of the extent of the potential reduction in hazard that is expected to be gained by any new regulation.

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