Washington OSHA Issues Draft PSM Rule for Refineries

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) recently released a new draft safety rule that would increase existing Process Safety Management (PSM) requirements for petrochemical refining facilities in the state of Washington.  The draft rule, which was released on January 16, 2018, arrives on the heels of California’s “PSM for Refineries” standard issued last fall and several years after an explosion with multiple fatalities at a refinery in Anacortes, Washington.  If finalized, Washington’s draft PSM rule would affect at least five large refineries owned by major energy companies. 

An Executive Summary issued by DOSH states that the discussion draft “mirrors the rule revisions recently adopted in California,” and that it is “the most significant update to our PSM requirements since 1992 when the rule was first adopted.” The draft rule would establish significant new requirements, such as:

  • Damage Mechanism Reviews (DMR): Employers would be required to perform an assessment of potential damage mechanisms that can affect process equipment, including corrosion, stress cracking, and other material degradation. Specifically, a team of engineers, operators, inspectors and persons familiar with damage mechanisms would be required to perform the review and include an assessment of potential damage mechanisms and inspection history. Hazards identified in the DMR that could cause death or serious physical harm would need to be immediately corrected. “Microbiologically-induced corrosion” would be added as a type of damage mechanism.
  • Safeguard Protection Analysis (SPA): To document the likelihood of all potential initiating events within 6 months after the completion of the PHA a safeguard protection analysis (SPA) would be required. The employer would also be required to conduct a hierarchy of controls analysis (HCA) for each recommendation resulting from the PHA.
  • Hierarchy of Hazard Controls Analysis (HCA): In certain situations, the employer would need to perform a hierarchy of hazard controls analysis (HCA). Such situations would include the implementation of recommendations that result from PHAs, following a major change as a part of an MOC, when an incident occurs, and when ensuring the quality of new equipment. The HCA would also need to identify and evaluate inherently safer measures to reduce risk to the greatest extent feasible.
  • Additional Management of Change Requirements (MOC): The draft rule would require the implementation of MOC procedures as a part of the new damage mechanism review (DMR), hierarchy of hazard controls analysis (HCA) and safeguard protection analysis (SPA). Likewise, the rule would require a review of potential changes with maintenance workers and contractor employees in addition to employees involved in the process.
  • Broader Operating Procedures: The draft rule would broaden the procedures required for each phase of operation. Procedures would need to define the conditions requiring emergency shutdown, and assign “responsibilities to qualified operators to ensure that [an] emergency shutdown is executed in a safe and timely manner.” Procedures for emergency operations would need to “provide that only qualified operators may initiate these operations,” and that before allowing operators into the vicinity of a leak, the employer must have either shutdown or depressurized the process or isolated the equipment.
  • Increased Training: Under the draft rule, the employer would have a greater role in ensuring the safety of contract employees, and training them about site’s hazards. A training record would need to be created including the type, subject, and verification that knowledge has been transferred.
  • Increased Compliance Audit Obligations: Employers would be required to certify that they have evaluated compliance with the provisions of the rule every three years. Employers would need to verify that they are following the procedures and practices developed under the rule and that their PSM program is effective. Employers would have to include employees with expertise and experience in the work they are reviewing on the audit team. The employer would need to provide a written report of the audit within 60 days.
  • Process Safety Management System: Under the draft rule, employers would be required to develop and implement a PSM management system administered by a PSM management coordinator who is responsible for compliance with this rule. Also, the employer would have to develop and maintain an organizational chart identifying management positions responsible for implementing the PSM Program elements required by this section.

The rulemaking is still in the early stages.  DOSH has scheduled public meetings to review the rule.  The next meeting date is February 21, 2018.  Additionally, DOSH has formed a PSM Advisory Committee including members from the labor and industry communities.  Its next meeting is scheduled for March 7, 2018.  Refineries in Washington should consider engaging early in the rulemaking process and outline their positions on the draft rule’s new obligations.

Beveridge & Diamond's Occupational Health & Safety Practice helps companies nationwide and in a variety of industrial sectors on a wide range of worker safety issues—in the rulemaking, counseling and litigation contexts—with a particular focus on chemicals and processes also regulated by environmental programs. For more information, please contact the authors.