OSHA sends process safety letter to refineries

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent letters to refinery managers emphasizing the need to comply with all applicable OSHA standards, particularly the process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals.

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, June 24 -- The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent letters to refinery managers emphasizing the need to comply with all applicable OSHA standards, particularly the process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals.

OSHA said it provided letters to more than 100 refineries. The letters outlined compliance issues found under OSHA's Refinery National Emphasis Program (NEP) and urged refinery managers to comply with the process safety management (PSM) standard.

The standard requires employers to develop and incorporate comprehensive, site-specific safety management systems to reduce the risks of fatal or catastrophic incidents.

OSHA inspection teams visited refineries as part of a refining NEP launched in June 2007. The NEP stemmed from a US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board recommendation following the deadly Mar. 23, 2005, explosion at BP America Inc.’s Texas City, Tex., refinery (OGJ, Sept. 8, 2008, p. 20).

“We initiated this NEP to ensure that refineries develop and fully implement a safety management system that protects workers from serious incidents,” Jordan Barab, OSHA acting assistant secretary of labor, said in a June 10 news release.

During the first year of the NEP, OSHA inspectors issued nearly 350 PSM citations to 14 refineries.

Some of the citations issued involved employers who failed to address their own PSM findings and recommendations. The citations involved failures by refinery manager to establish maintenance procedures for equipment such as pressure vessels and emergency shutdown systems.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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