Here’s the latest news from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board:
Today the U.S. Chemical Safety Board formally announced that to “Modernize U.S. Process Safety Management Regulations” is the Board’s newest Most Wanted Safety Improvement, concluding that implementation of key federal and state CSB safety recommendations will result in significant improvement of Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations in the United States.
Over the last two decades, the CSB has made a number of recommendations related to OSHA’s PSM program and EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP), many of which have not been fully implemented. By adding the modernizing of U.S. process safety management regulations to the CSB’s Most Wanted Safety Improvement list, the agency is identifying this issue as one of the board’s most important recommendations-related goals.
As Chairperson of the CSB I see this as an important opportunity to advance national process safety management reform by advocating for this issue as part of the board’s Most Wanted Chemical Safety Improvements Program. My hope is that reform will help to prevent future catastrophic accidents.
In a prepared statement, the CSB explained:
… That despite some positive improvements in PSM regulations in the U.S., regulations have undergone little reform since their inception in the 1990s. Of particular interest are the board’s recent investigations of major refinery incidents that found that PSM and RMP, although written as performance-based regulations, appear to function primarily as reactive and activity-based regulatory frameworks that require extensive rulemaking to modify. This potentially results in stagnating risk levels, even as industry-recommended best practices and technology continue to advance in the U.S. and overseas.
Specifically, the CSB’s investigations of recent major refinery accidents found that there was no requirement to reduce risks to As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP); there was no mechanism to ensure continuous safety improvement; no requirement to implement inherent safety or the hierarchy of controls; that there should be an increased role for workers and worker representatives in process safety management; and that there needs to be a more proactive, technically qualified regulator.