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Changes to OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standard and USEPA’s Risk Management Program

How Modified Guidance and Revised Regulations May Affect Your Facility

In the March 14, 2016 Federal Register, USEPA proposed significant revisions to its accidental release prevention requirements, often referred to as the Risk Management Program (RMP) (40 CFR Part 68). This proposed rule follows a 2014 Request for Information in which USEPA proposed a number of significant changes to the RMP rule, which was first promulgated in 1993 and has not been considerably revised since.

These anticipated changes will serve to modernize the 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.

OBG anticipates that USEPA will be finalizing the RMP revisions in the fall of 2016. The following items are among the more significant changes to the RMP rule that affected facilities might reasonably expect upon promulgation of the final rule:

Third-party audit requirement: Facilities with Program 2 or Program 3 processes will be required to contract with an independent third-party to perform the triennial compliance audits required under §68.58. 

Root-cause analysis requirement: Facilities that experience a catastrophic release, or an incident that could have reasonably resulted in a catastrophic release, will be required to conduct a root-cause analysis as part of the facility’s incident investigation.

Additional process hazard analyses (PHA) requirement: Program 3 processes in select industries will be required to conduct a safer technology and alternatives analysis (STAA) as part of their PHA (which must be reviewed and updated every five years, or whenever there is a significant change to the affected process). The STAA must evaluate the feasibility of any inherently safer technology (IST).

Enhanced emergency response program requirements: Facilities with Program 2 or Program 3 processes will be required to coordinate with the local emergency response agencies at least once per year to verify that resources and capabilities are in place to respond to an accidental release of regulated substance. In addition, these facilities would also be required to conduct annual notification exercises in order to demonstrate that their emergency contact information is accurate and complete.

New requirements for responding facilities: Facilities subject to Subpart E of the rule (i.e., those that respond directly to an emergency release) will be required to conduct a full field exercise at least once every five years.

Enhanced availability of information: USEPA is making it easier to access accidental release information through a series of actions, including:

  • Requiring all facilities to provide certain basic information to the public through easily accessible means such as a company website, a local library or government office, or other avenues
  • Facilities with Program 2 or Program 3 processes would need to provide the Local Emergency Planning Commission (LEPC) with a summary of activities related to conducting compliance audits and emergency response exercises
  • Facilities that have had RMP-reportable accidents would have to disclose their accident history and incident investigation reports, and hold a public meeting for the local community within a specific timeframe after the RMP-reportable accident

OSHA is expected to follow suit soon by implementing parallel changes to its Process Safety Management (PSM) standard (29 CFR Part 1910 Section 119). In addition, OSHA issued clarifying guidance in 2015 that significantly alters the scope and applicability of the existing standard. These changes have not been well documented and may represent significant compliance risk to facilities that are unaware of these recent regulatory interpretations. 

How can OBG help?

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. OBG has been following these regulatory changes closely over the past several years and can provide your facility with the regulatory compliance and engineering expertise needed to resolve these challenges in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Matt Traister
(315) 569-7882