After an accidental chemical release and fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California in 2012, the Governor's Interagency Working Group on Refinery Safety was formed to identify ways to improve refinery and agency performance. The Working Group prepared a final report that included the following recommendations:

  1. Revise the State's Process Safety Management (PSM) and California Accidental Release Prevention (CalARP) regulations;
  2. Strengthen regulatory enforcement; and
  3. Improve emergency preparedness and response procedures.

Per the recommendations of the report, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) promulgated new PSM regulatory requirements for oil refineries on October 1, 2017, codified in General Industry Safety Orders (GISO) Section 5189.1. Concurrently, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) promulgated CalARP regulation amendments that are in alignment with the new PSM requirements effective October1, 2017. The regulatory amendments of CalARP impose the following requirements on oil refineries:

  1. Apply a hierarchy of controls to implement first- and second-order inherent safety measures;
  2. Conduct damage mechanism reviews;
  3. Implement rigorous safeguard protection analyses;
  4. Integrate human factors and safety culture assessments into safety planning;
  5. Include frontline employees in decision-making;
  6. Perform root-cause analysis following significant incidents; and
  7. Conduct comprehensive process hazard analyses.

Following public written comment periods and a public hearing process, the proposed PSM and CalARP regulation amendments for oil refineries were approved by the Office of Administrative Law on July 27, 2017 and August 3, 2017, respectively with an effective date of October 1, 2017.

The new regulations are expected to improve safety at California petroleum refineries, which is projected to result in fewer releases of hazardous materials from refineries. As result, they should provide safety and health benefits to workers and the public in neighboring communities.