Expect More Inspections

Oct. 23, 2009
OSHA’s National Emphasis Program targets more facilities.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rolled out its National Emphasis Program (NEP) in July. The NEP focuses on compliance with the Process Safety Management (PSM) standard (see the OSHA News Release) to blunt explosion hazards resulting from the release of highly hazardous chemicals (HHC) (29 C.F.R. § 1910.119). This column summarizes the NEP and its implications.


Quick Facility Inspections
The NEP is designed to allow quick facility inspections at a large number of facilities randomly selected from a list of work sites “likely” to have HHCs in quantities covered by the PSM standard. The PSM is OSHA’s response to catastrophic incidents that had occurred in the petroleum refining industry, which is especially in OSHA’s cross-hairs. OSHA cites the 2005 explosion at the BP America refinery in Texas City, Texas, that caused a number of fatalities and reportedly had a major influence on the content of the NEP. (See “FAQ Sheet — Petroleum Refinery Process Safety Management National Emphasis Program." For more on the accident, see: www.ChemicalProcessing.com/industrynews/2007/003.html and www.ChemicalProcessing.com/articles/2006/055.html )

OSHA issued Instruction CPL-02-02-045, the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals — Compliance Guidelines and Enforcement Procedures in 1994. This document sets forth compliance guidance for PSM enforcement. It states that because Program Quality Verifications (PQV) inspections under the PSM are resource intensive, OSHA would perform a “limited number” of inspections. To address this, the NEP outlines a “new approach” for inspecting PSM-covered facilities (see “Directive Number 09-06 (PL02)").

Regional Planned Inspections
The NEP applies to petroleum refineries in SIC 2911 [NAICS 324110]. Refineries that participate in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) or in OSHA Consultation’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) are exempt.

 Under the NEP, OSHA will conduct “programmed” (planned) inspections of facilities in Regions I (Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont), VII (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska), and X (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington) in “facilities that are known to OSHA as having a risk of catastrophic releases.” “Unprogrammed” (unplanned) inspections will take place in all OSHA Regions.

  OSHA will use four sources of information to target facilities for planned inspections: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Chemical Accident Provisions, Program 3 Risk Management Plan; explosives manufacturing NAICS codes; OSHA’s Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) database; and OSHA “area office knowledge of local facilities.” OSHA will use these sources to develop a “Master List” of facilities. Facilities identified in the Master List will be further organized into three categories: Category 1 — facilities likely to have ammonia used for refrigeration as the only HHC; Category 2 — facilities likely to have chlorine used for water treatment as the only HHC; and Category 3 — facilities likely to have both ammonia and chlorine, ammonia or chlorine used for other than refrigeration or water treatment, or HHCs other than ammonia or chlorine.

 Inspections will be scheduled over a two-year period. Regions will schedule 40% of the inspections in the first year and 60% in the second. Regions have the option and are encouraged to complete the scheduled inspections before the second year ends.

A Wider Reach
The NEP will result in increased inspections of petroleum refining facilities in the Regions specified. While OSHA notes that the refining industry isn’t to be held to a higher standard than other industries, the NEP has potential to invite this result.  So, the petroleum refining industry will want to respond to the NEP proactively.

 Based on the criteria used for targeting sources, however, other facilities, including explosive manufacturing, entities identified as PSM violators, and facilities known to the OSHA Area Office as being potential candidates for inspection, are all likely to be considered for inclusion in the NEP. For this reason, these facilities also need to be mindful to the NEP and the possibility of being swept into its reach.

Lynn Bergeson is Chemical Processing's Regulatory Editor. You can e-mail her at [email protected]

Lynn is managing director of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C., a Washington, D.C.-based law firm that concentrates on chemical industry issues. The views expressed herein are solely those of the author. This column is not intended to provide, nor should be construed as, legal advice.

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