Perspectives: Compliance Advisor

Chemical Safety Board Makes PSM a Top Priority

Agency wants to modernize process safety management regulations

By Lynn Bergeson, regulatory editor

On December 1, 2014, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) announced that its “Most Wanted Safety Improvement” is to modernize U.S. process safety management (PSM) regulations. Specifically, the CSB notes implementation of key federal and state CSB safety recommendations will result in significant improvement of PSM regulations in the United States. The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. Board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards and safety management systems. (The CSB has suffered internal divisions recently; see: “Turmoil Takes a Toll on Chemical Safety Board[http://goo.gl/2su0pE].") *Time for Improvement Is Now* While the CSB notes a number of improvements in PSM regulations have been made since the 1990s, for the most part regulations haven’t been substantively revised to address the passage of time or improvements in chemical management. According to the CSB, recommendations related to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) PSM program and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Risk Management Program (RMP) have been made and some even implemented, but many such recommendations haven’t been fully implemented or likely seriously considered.  By focusing on modernizing U.S. PSM regulations, the CSB is plainly identifying this issue as one of the Board’s most important recommendations-related goals.

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