See the latest EHS federal and state regulatory updates due to COVID-19

On December 9, 2013 OSHA issued a Request for Information (RFI) on the Process Safety Management (PSM) standard and related standards. This RFI was driven by Executive Order 13650, issued August 1, 2013, which required an RFI within 90 days for modernization of the PSM and related standards. Recent industrial incidents involving fire, explosion, and chemical releases and results from the OSHA PSM Petroleum Refinery and Chemical Facilities National Enforcement Programs were cited in the RFI as driving forces for re-evaluation of some components of the PSM standard.

Potential updates to the PSM standard on which OSHA is requesting comments include:

  1. Clarifying the PSM exemptions for atmospheric tanks
    • 1910.119(a)(1)(ii) exemption for flammable liquids stored in atmospheric tanks or transferred kept under their boiling point without chilling/refrigeration
    • 1997 Meer Decision ruled PSM not applicable to these tanks even when connected or in proximity to a covered process
    • OSHA wants to revise 1910.119(a)(1)(ii)(b) to include flammable liquids in atmospheric tanks within close proximity of or connected to PSM covered processes.
    • Potential impact: Facilities and processes who previously have not triggered 10,0000 pound flammable threshold could be subject to PSM regulation
  2. Oil and gas well drilling and servicing operations; Oil and gas production facilities
    • 1910.119(a)(2)(ii) exemptions for oil and gas well drilling and servicing operations and oil and gas production facilities; OSHA intended to cover these operations under a separate rulemaking
    • In 1999, American Petroleum Institute objected to including these operations in PSM due to lack of economic consideration during original PSM rulemaking; OSHA suspended PSM enforcement for these categories
    • OSHA wants to conduct economic consideration analysis for these operations and potentially remove oil & gas well drilling and servicing operations exemption
    • Potential impact: Oil and gas facilities (well drilling, servicing, production) could be subject to PSM regulation
  3. Expanding PSM coverage and requirements for Reactivity hazards; Additions to the PSM list contained in Appendix A to 29 CFR 1910.119
    • Appendix A lists currently covers some, but not all known reactivity hazards, and hasn’t been updated since 1992
    • OSHA is considering several potential approaches to adding reactivity hazards:
      • Chemical Safety Board (CSB) recommendations – broad reactive category similar to “flammable liquids or gases” category
      • New Jersey Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act (TCPA) – explicitly covers reactive hazards and mixtures using multiple lists
      • Individual Reactive Hazardous Substances
      • Reactive Hazard Substances Mixture Functional Groups
      • Covered facilities determine if they are intentionally mixing chemicals from Functional Group list, determine heat or reaction, and corresponding threshold quantity for TCPA coverage
    • OSHA wants to determine additional PSM applicability for reactive hazards, including mixtures; Requests comments for other Highly Hazardous Chemicals (HHCs) to add to Appendix A
    • Potential impact: Additional facilities / processes with new HHCs or reactive chemicals / mixtures could be subject to PSM regulation
  4. Additional Management System elements
    • OSHA is considering several sources to add PSM Management System elements:
      • Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) Risk Based Process Safety (RBPS) program
        • Measurement and Metrics
        • Management Review / Continuous Improvement
        • Process Safety Competency
      • Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Revisions to Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS II) for offshore operations
        • Stop work authority for imminent risk / dangerous activity
        • Ultimate work authority for operational safety and decision making
        • Employee participation plan to promote employee as well as management participation in hazard mitigation/elimination
    • OSHA wants to add a Management System element and add accountability for stopping unsafe work practices
    • Potential Impact: Additional Management System and Employee Participation requirements, including Stop Work and Ultimate Work Authority programs
  5. Require evaluation of updates to applicable Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practice (RAGAGEP)
    • Currently PSM standard doesn’t require employers to evaluate updates to RAGAGEP or examine new RAGAGEP after initial evaluation is completed per (d)(3)
    • OSHA wants to add requirement to evaluate updates to applicable RAGAGEP
    • Potential impact: Modifications to 1910.119(d) to require ongoing evaluation of current RAGAGEP and updates to site equipment if needed
  6. Adding definition for RAGAGEP to the PSM Standard
    • From CCPS’s Guidelines for Mechanical Integrity Systems, RAGAGEP is defined as “the basis for engineering, operation, or maintenance activities and are themselves based on established codes, standards, published technical reports or recommended practices (RP) or similar documents. RAGAGEPS detail generally approved ways to perform tasks such as fabricating a vessel, inspecting a storage tank, or servicing a relief valve.”
    • Potential impact: Addition of RAGAGEP definition to PSM standard
  7. Expand Mechanical Integrity (MI) requirements to include any safety-critical equipment
    • Currently 1910.119(j) applies to “pressure vessels and storage tanks, piping systems (including components such as valves), relief and vent systems and devices, emergency shutdown systems, controls (including monitoring devices and sensors, alarms, and interlocks); and pumps”
    • OSHA wants to revise (j) to explicitly apply MI to “all equipment the employer identifies as critical to process safety-critical equipment”
    • Potential impact: Addition of safety critical equipment to list in (j) of equipment types subject to MI requirements
  8. Clarify that the Management of Change (MOC) element must review impacts of organizational change
    • 1910.119(l) MOC requirements cover “modifications to equipment, technology, procedures, raw materials, and processing conditions other than replacements in kind.
    • Temporary changes are subject to MOC
    • OSHA wants to add to MOC review “changes in management structure, budget cuts, or personnel changes” if they have the ability to affect process safety
    • Potential impact: Organizational changes, including temporary organizational changes, added to items requiring MOC review
  9. Revise Emergency Response Program (ERP) element to require coordination with local emergency response authorities
    • Existing ERP regulations codified in 20 CFR 1910.38, 1910.119(n), and 1910.120 don’t currently contain requirement to coordinate with local emergency responders
      • Even for non-responding sites or when employer evacuates employees and doesn’t allow them to assist in response
    • OSHA wants to require facilities to coordinate response with local responders
    • Potential impact: Coordination with local responders added to 1910.119(n)
  10. Revise Compliance Audits element to require 3rd party audits
    • 29 CFR 1910.119(o) requires audits every 3 years “by at least one person knowledgeable in the process”
    • CCPS states “third party auditors (typically consulting companies who can provide experience auditors) potentially provide the highest degree of objectivity
    • OSHA considering requiring compliance audits to be conducted by a third party
    • Also evaluating increasing frequency of audits, and requiring specific timeframe to respond to deficiencies found during audits
    • Potential impact: Modifications to 1910.119(o) to incorporate some or all of these changes
  11. Retail facility exemption
    • 29 CFR 1910.119(a)(2)(i) exempts retail facilities but “retail facility” is not defined in PSM standard
    • Preamble notes retail facilities generally store small packages or containers (gas station as example) as opposed to wholesalers
    • Guidance states that NAICS Sector 44 & 45 is “retail”
    • However there is conflicting guidance that facilities selling anhydrous ammonia to farmers is “retail”, while NAICS code for these operations classify this as wholesale
    • Potential impact: Clarification to retail exemption language to distinguish PSM definition of retail and wholesale operations
  12. Appendix A chemicals listed without specific concentrations
    • Appendix A lists concentrations for only 11 chemicals when determining Threshold Quantity (TQ)
    • Others materials are subject to TQ review only if “commercial grade”
    • Inconsistent guidance for “commercial grade”
    • OSHA considering adopting the approach used in EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP) applicability determination
      • Review if chemical is 1% or greater (some partial pressure exemptions)
      • Count only chemical portion of mixture towards threshold
    • Potential Impact: Change to PSM approach to mixtures to match RMP approach; Facilities not subject to PSM could now be subject

The RFI also requests comments on updates to the following associated standards:

  1. Explosives and Blasting Agents standard (29 CFR 1910.109)
  2. Flammable Liquids standard (29 CFR 1910.106)
  3. Spray Finishing standard (29 CFR 1910.107)
  4. Ammonium Nitrate Storage, Handling, and Management regulations (covered by 1910.109 currently)


The RFI document contains specific instructions for comment submittal, including attachments and sample questions in Section II of the RFI. OSHA requests responders address the following specific terms in their comments:

  1. Quantify economic impacts – reduction in injuries, fatalities, property damage
  2. Costs – compliance, production impacts
  3. Offsets to costs – reduced repairs
  4. Economic effects on market structure
  5. Discuss unique impacts on small entities


While the RFI items are not proposed regulations, agencies utilize the RFI procedure to gather data and comments on potential future proposed regulations. Comments for the PSM RFI are due March 10, 2014.

For assistance in providing comments to or determining the potential impact from the changes covered by this RFI, please contact Natalie VanLiew at or your local Trinity office at (800) 229-6655.