The comment period ends on March 10, 2014, for OSHA’s request for information (“RFI”) on the potential revisions to its Process Safety Management (“PSM”) standard, Explosives and Blasting Agents standard, the Flammable Liquids standard, and Spray Finishing standard.  This RFI fulfills one of the Agency’s requirements under President Obama’s Executive Order 13650, entitledImproving Chemical Facility Safety and Security

OSHA identified the following topics as potential candidates for rulemaking or enforcement policy changes and included a list of questions specific to each:

  1. Clarifying the PSM exemption for atmospheric storage tanks.  OSHA seeks comments on whether it should clarify that the PSM standard covers all stored flammables when connected to, or in close proximity to, a process.
  2. Oil- and Gas-Well Drilling and Servicing Exemption.  OSHA requests public comment on whether it should retain or remove the current Oil and Gas Well Drilling and Servicing exemption from the PSM standard.
  3. Oil- and Gas-Production Facilities Enforcement.  The Agency requests information and comment on completing the economic analysis for oil- and gas-production facilities for the PSM standard and whether it should resume enforcement of the PSM standard for said facilities.
  4. Expanding PSM Coverage and Requirements for Reactivity Hazards.  OSHA invites comments on different regulatory approaches to covering reactive hazards.  
  5. Updating the List of Highly Hazardous Chemicals in Appendix A of the PSM Standard.  The Agency requests comment on which chemicals it should add to Appendix A of the PSM standard and what methods it should adopt for periodically updating Appendix A to address new technology and chemical science advancements.
  6. Revising the PSM Standard to Require Additional Management-System Elements.  OSHA seeks public comment on additional management-system elements that could be added to the PSM standard to increase worker protection.
  7. Amending the PSM Standard to Require Evaluation of Updates to Applicable RAGAGEP.   OSHA requests public comment on whether the PSM standard should require employers to evaluate updates to applicable recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices (“RAGAGEP”). 
  8. Clarifying the PSM Standard by Adding a Definition for RAGAGEP.  The Agency invites public comment on whether it should clarify the PSM standard by including an explicit definition of RAGAGEP and what definition is should adopt.  
  9. Expanding PSM Standard to Cover the Mechanical Integrity of Any Safety-Critical Equipment. OSHA seeks public comment on whether it should revise paragraph (j) of the PSM standard to explicitly apply the mechanical-integrity requirements to all equipment the employer identifies as critical to process safety-critical equipment, in addition to the equipment currently listed in the standard.
  10. Clarifying Requirement that Employers Manage Organizational Changes.  The Agency invites comment on whether it should clarify that paragraph (l) of the PSM standard requires organizational management-of-change if the changes affect process safety and whether such requirement will increase worker safety.  
  11. Revising the PSM Standard to Require Coordination of Emergency Planning with Local Emergency-Response Authorities.  OSHA seeks comment on the appropriate mechanism and corresponding language that it should add to paragraph (n) to address the need for facilities to coordinate emergency planning with local emergency-response authorities.  
  12. Revising the PSM Standard on Third-Party Compliance Audits.  OSHA requests public comment on whether it should revise paragraph (o) of the PSM standard to require employers to use a qualified third party for compliance audits; whether it should increase the required frequency of compliance audits; and whether it should require specific timeframes for responding to deficiencies found during the compliance audit process.
  13. Expanding the Requirements of § 1910.109 to Cover Dismantling and Disposal of Explosives, Blasting Agents, and Pyrotechnics.  The Agency invites comment on whether expanding the scope of 29 CFR 1910.109 to address hazards associated with dismantling and disposal of explosives would lead to increased worker protection and whether revisions to OSHA’s regulations would be duplicative of ATF’s current regulations.
  14. Updating §§ 1910.106 and 1910.107.  OSHA seeks recommendations on updates that should be considered to the Flammable Liquids standard and Spray Finishing standard and public comment on how such updates will lead to increased worker protection.
  15. Updating the Regulations Addressing the Storage, Handling, and Management of Ammonium Nitrate.  OSHA invites comment on safe work practices for storing, handling, and managing ammonium nitrate, as well as how it should update these regulatory requirements.  
  16. Changing Enforcement Policy of the PSM Exemption for Retail Facilities.  OSHA requests public comment on what the retail facilities exemption should cover and whether OSHA’s current enforcement policy adequately addresses workplace hazards associated with these facilities.
  17. Changing Enforcement Policy for Highly Hazardous Chemicals Listed in Appendix A of the PSM Standard without Specific Concentrations.  OSHA seeks public comment on whether it should adopt the EPA’s policy for Risk Management Program listed substances in order to address hazards associated with Appendix A chemicals that do not have listed concentrations. 

OSHA also seeks data and information on the potential economic impacts of the proposed changes and revisions provided for in the RFI, and it invites public comment on the unintended consequences of adopting any of the proposed changes or revisions.   

OSHA will use the information received in response to this RFI to determine what action, if any, it may take.  In order to effectuate the majority of these changes, OSHA would need to engage in notice and comment rulemaking, giving the public another opportunity to provide comments on these proposals.