The Honorable Dr. David Michaels
Assistant Secretary of Labor
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety & Health Administration
200 Constitution Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20210
Dear Assistant Secretary Michaels,
March 13, 2014
We the undersigned organizations are writing to formally submit comments in response to Docket
Number OSHA-2013-0020 – Process Safety Management and Prevention of Major Chemical Accidents.
The organizations sending this letter represent thousands of facilities across the nation covered by
Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations. In addition, the International Institute of Ammonia
Refrigeration (IIAR) is an ANSI accredited standards writing body whose standards are used as
Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices (RAGAGEP). The questions posed in the
RFI are of great interest to our organizations and member companies and we appreciate the opportunity
to provide comment.
Below are our specific comments on the sections most relevant and applicable to our organizations and
1. Clarifying the PSM exemption for atmospheric storage tanks
We recommend that OSHA provide clarification regarding the proposals related to storage tanks. It is
unclear whether the atmospheric storage tank definition would apply to ammonia refrigeration in that
storage vessels in the process could be pulled into other storage tank definitions/requirements. The
main portion of the proposed change is in regards to flammable liquids, and the concerning language is
“include flammable liquids in atmospheric storage tanks within or connected to a PSM covered
processes”. “Connected to” may incorporate vessels that are part of a covered process, thus being
redundant to the current PSM standard. We believe the revised language is intended to apply to fuel
storage tanks in open areas but may have further reaching applicability than intended without specifics
listing what vessels would be covered and what “connected to” or “adjacent to” means. There are very
few ambient conditions that would result in close to atmospheric pressure conditions for ammonia. The
current PSM regulations cover vessels and their protection very well.
Atmospheric storage tanks could apply to nurse tanks or charging tanks ammonia facilities use for
system charging/unloading or special storage during large system maintenance pump downs. We would
not recommend this practice and applicability to PSM processes as it would lead to unneeded burdens
placed on facilities (ie: could require MOC for temporary hook-ups to the process with P&IDs, etc for a
routine practice). Thus, we recommend that OSHA outline what specific industries would be captured
under the expanded definition of atmospheric storage tanks. We suggest the addition of language
clarifying that ammonia refrigeration systems are specifically excluded from any “atmospheric tank”
6. Revising the PSM Standard to Require Additional Management-System Elements
Revising the PSM Standard to require additional management-system elements raises a number of
questions and concerns. Because the PSM Standard is supposed to be a performance-based, we are
opposed to requiring specifying management-system metrics required by those subject to the standard.
Requiring facilities to use and share metrics is more prescriptive than a performance-based standard
In addition, the PSM Standard already includes management practices in almost all elements. For
example, CCPS – RBPS does not appear to really have 20 separate management systems. Rather, it
appears that they have broken out portions of existing PSM elements and subdivided them. “Process
Safety Culture”, “Process Safety Competency”, and “Stakeholder Outreach” RBPS elements are already
being incorporated into the Employee Participation portion of PSM programs. For those truly unique
elements included in RBPS, not all of them may apply to facilities with ammonia refrigeration systems.
CCPS primarily focuses on the production of chemicals and the processes used to create chemicals, thus
the CCPS should not be used as an applicable source for all PSM processes. We believe this would stifle
innovation and some industry best practices are not applicable to all other industries. While we
recognize continuous improvement and metrics can be useful tools, we are concerned that they cannot
effectively be a measure of compliance or non-compliance. Therefore, we do not feel continuous
improvement and metrics should be added to the PSM standard.
The IIAR’s PSM and Risk Management Program Guidance contains a sample Management-System
document which provides management system guidance directly applicable to the ammonia
refrigeration industry. Adding the requirement for more complex management processes has the
potential to occupy resources that would otherwise be applied to improving compliance with existing
requirements while adding little value towards safety.
Should such additional management system elements ultimately be required, it would be important to
coordinate the requirements between PSM and RMP. When the EPA was developing their Accidental
Release Prevention Requirements (40 CFR Part 68), the initial drafts for the Risk Management Program
(RM Program) contained substantial differences with the PSM Standard which had been issued four
years earlier. Facilities were rightfully worried that they would have to maintain two separate, distinct
programs: A PSM program to comply with the OSHA requirements and a Risk Management Program to
comply with the EPA requirements. Numerous comments to the EPA convinced them to include
program elements in the RM Program which are essentially identical to the PSM program elements.
Section 68.15 of the Risk Management (RM) Program Rule requires facilities to develop a Management
System. The precedent set in 1992 to keep PSM and RM Program elements identical if at all possible
should apply in the case of the Management Systems.
While we do not endorse the addition of management system elements, should OSHA move forward
with the proposal, we strongly recommend that OSHA adopt the following language from Section 68.15
to avoid duplication of effort by facilities implementing PSM and RM Program requirements:
(a) The owner or operator of a stationary source with processes subject to Program 2 or Program
3 shall develop a management system to oversee the implementation of the risk management
(b) The owner or operator shall assign a qualified person or position that has the overall
responsibility for the development, implementation, and integration of the risk management
(c) When responsibility for implementing individual requirements of this part is assigned to
persons other than the person identified under paragraph (b) of this section, the names or
positions of these people shall be documented and the lines of authority defined through an
organization chart or similar document.
7. Amending Paragraph (d) of the PSM Standard to Require Evaluation of Updates to Applicable
Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices (RAGAGEP)
We strongly believe that IIAR standards represent the most applicable RAGAGEP for the ammonia
refrigeration industry. These standards should be the primary source material for OSHA inspectors in
ammonia refrigeration facilities. With that said, we also believe that facilities should maintain the
flexibility to define the RAGAGEP for their facilities.
The addition of a requirement to evaluate updates to applicable RAGAGEP is not necessary. The
Management of Change (MOC) and Process Hazards Analysis (PHA) sections of PSM and RMP are
sufficient to identify risks without a stand-alone requirement for evaluation of RAGAGEP. The Formosa
Plastics incident used as an example is a situation where a Process Hazards Analysis Revalidation should
adequately identify appropriate RAGAGEP for incident prevention. Furthermore, it is likely impractical
for covered facilities to update all processes to maintain conformance with current standards without
any other changes in design. The MOC and PHA elements coupled with Employee Participation and Pre-
Startup Safety Review are adequate for identification of new hazards created by process changes or to
identify hazards based on incidents since the last PHA Revalidation. Adoption of requirements of a
revised code or standard at a specific facility should still be left to the determination of the facility. The
expectation is that any PHA update would include a review of current IIAR standards from the lens of
what has changed relative to the existing installation.
There would be a significant and unwarranted regulatory burden if process owners are required to
continuously research and evaluate updated RAGAGEP to determine the differences between the codes
and standards at the time of construction and current codes, standards or white papers, which are not
necessarily in alignment. Justification would be required to document why each change in code or
standard should not be implemented for the existing facility. Even the model codes and standards do
not require revisions for existing facilities to meet the most current requirements. Small changes in the
model codes and standards can have a significant cost impact to implement for an existing system with
little or no benefit for reducing injuries, fatalities, and property damage. This requirement would
discourage construction of ammonia refrigeration systems covered by PSM due to the risk and
uncertainty about the extent and frequency of mandated system modifications which could potentially
be capital intensive and cause business interruptions.
8. Clarifying the PSM Standard by Adding a Definition for RAGAGEP
We agree that adding a definition for RAGAGEP could be useful to help owners better understand
requirements under the standard. A definition for RAGAGEP may also be helpful in reducing the
instances of OSHA inspectors citing standards that are not as applicable to a given type of facility. For
example, there have been occasions where OSHA inspectors have applied American Petroleum Institute
(API) standards to ammonia refrigeration facilities. Better defining RAGAGEP can reduce the
misapplication of standards by inspectors and facilitate better understanding and application by facility
owners. A definition of RAGAGEP should include methods and “whys”, but not go so far as how to do
something like inspect, which becomes a maintenance procedure. A definition of RAGAGEP should not
take away the ability of a facility to identify which RAGAGEP they are applying to their operations.
While the CCPS definition appears consistent with what IIAR has developed within its suite of standards,
there is still some concern about potential confusion regarding which codes are required by OSHA in a
given situation. There is also concern about the application of manufacturer’s recommendations within
RAGAGEP. While OSHA has a tendency to look to manufactures recommendations for industry
standards for mechanical integrity, it is important to understand that manufactures recommendations
should not automatically be considered industry standards or RAGAGEP because they can be motivated
by factors other than the reductions in injuries, fatalities, and property damage.
9. Expanding the Scope of Paragraph (j) of the PSM Standard to Cover the Mechanical Integrity of any
Conceptually, the proposal to expand the coverage of the Mechanical Integrity element to all safety-
critical equipment seems reasonable. For the ammonia refrigeration industry, covered facilities already
must identify components, controls and PM frequency for them in accordance with OEM
recommendations. In addition, IIAR is currently working on IIAR 6 that will be designed to specify the
mechanical integrity requirements for all safety-critical equipment in an ammonia refrigeration system.
However, for such a change to be effective, a workable definition of “safety-critical” must be developed.
The determination of what is safety-critical can be subject to broad interpretation. For example, the loss
of any utility within the control of the owner could be construed to represent a significant risk to the
process, even when the process is designed to safely shutdown on a loss of utilities. However, there
would likely be no special requirement for the utilities out of control of the owner.
10. Expanding the Scope of Paragraph (l) of the PSM Standard with an Explicit Requirement that
Employees Manage Organizational Changes
There is some merit in expanding the Management of Change requirements to include organization
changes, as long as there is clear guidance on what organizational changes qualify. We believe that the
majority of organizational changes do not rise to the level of requiring inclusion in Management of
The following “Tip” is contained in the management of change section of the IIAR’s PSM and RMP
Program Guidelines and can provide some useful perspective on what organizational changes should be
included in management of change programs:
Tips: Modify these definitions and add additional definitions applicable to your facility. For
example, you might modify the definition of a “change” to include operating and maintenance
staffing changes such as cutbacks in the staffing of operations or maintenance personnel or to
address labor issues such as work stoppages (e.g. strikes).
If organizational changes are included, “replacements in kind” should be exempted from the
management of change requirements to address normal transitions which occur at a typical facility
provided that actual staffing levels or reporting requirements do not change. For example, if a
Refrigeration Technician retires the facility should not be required to complete the management of
change form if they plan on hiring a new Refrigeration Technician and training him to replace the
Technician that left. However, the elimination of a Refrigeration Technician position may warrant
inclusion. In the spirit of performance based standards, facility owners should be given a sufficient level
of flexibility to design their own programs to meet the requirement.
11. Revising Paragraph (n) of the PSM Standard to Required Coordination of Emergency Planning with
Local Emergency-Response Authorities
Coordination with local emergency planning and response authorities is an important aspect of safety.
As a result, such coordination is already specifically required in the RMP Rules. Enforcement of this
issue is linked through Hazard Communication, Emergency Action and HAZWOPER Standards. The
coordination with local agencies (i.e. LEPC, Fire Department, Police, etc.) is required by the EPA’s
Chemical Accident Prevention Provisions (40 CFR Part 68.95(c)). An argument can be made that the
issue of coordination is well covered through EPA and that adding a requirement to PSM is redundant.
Coordination with emergency planning/ LEPC is required under EPA and confined spaces are listed in the
CFR, both of which OSHA highlights in the PSM RFI. The PSM performance standards allow the facilities
to define how the EAP/ERP are addressed. Thus, we do not see a direct benefit of OSHA adding this
recommendation into the PSM code. If anything, we believe OSHA should reference other federal codes
applicable to emergency response such that there is not a burden created if one code is updated while
another is not. This could cause contradiction and complexity/confusion for implementation. We
believe the proposed change is a duplication of efforts by regulatory bodies and should be avoided.
It should also be noted that some facilities may not be in an area with a LEPC that could/would assist in
an event which would also impose and unnecessary burden on facilities. Additionally, there may be
circumstances wherein facility personnel are more trained and qualified through HAZWOPER training
and practice than the LEPC. While we recognize inclusion of the LEPC for a covered process facility is
mostly beneficial it may not always be the most beneficial course of action for a facility depending on
experience and training.
Clearly define a reasonable level of coordination with planning and response authorities presents a
significant challenge. If facilities are “required” to coordinate their response activities, OSHA must
recognize that despite the best efforts of facilities sometimes the coordination is a “one-way” street. It
is very difficult at times to get the local responders to visit each PSM-covered facility regardless of the
urgency and the number of the invitations provided. If a facility can demonstrate that they provided
appropriate information to the off-site responders and contacted them on a regular basis that should be
sufficient to demonstrate that they have attempted to encourage coordination with these responders.
In addition, there needs to be a recognition of the ability of industrial response team that deals with fire,
bomb threats, boiler alarms, etc. A trained operator should be allowed to engage the plant’s emergency
shut-down procedure while working with the same PPE that they would be using when opening the
system for repairs (APR, full skin protection, ammonia monitor, and gloves).
The following information from the emergency planning and response section of the IIAR’s PSM and RM
Program Guidelines provides a useful perspective on the issue of coordination:
10. Coordination with Off-Site Responders
The following elements of the emergency plan are coordinated with off-site responders:
(1) Procedures that will be followed to inform the local emergency response agencies about
emergencies at the facility
(2) Procedures that will be followed to conduct search and rescue operations
(3) First aid and emergency medical procedures that will be followed to treat accidental human
(4) Procedures that will be followed to respond to accidental ammonia releases
(5) Amount and type of emergency equipment that is available on-site and through outside
(6) Training and drills that will be conducted with outside agencies
(7) Decontamination and clean-up procedures
(8) (Insert Additional Elements if Applicable)
To address the above, the following procedures will be followed to verify that our emergency
plan is coordinated with off-site responders:
(1) Copies of the Emergency Plan will be sent to each of the off-site responders for their review
and comments whenever changes are made to the plan.
(2) Representatives from each of the off-site responders will be invited to tour the facility and
talk with facility personnel to review the Emergency Plan on an annual basis.
(3) Off-site responders will be invited to participate in any related training and drills with facility
(4) (Insert Additional Procedures if Applicable)
Tips: Expand and/or modify this section to reflect the procedures followed to coordinate the
emergency action and/or response plan with off-site responders. For example, insert
additional procedures if applicable.
All facilities are encouraged to develop written or oral arrangements of responsibilities
regarding emergency response activities with their local emergency response agencies.
These arrangements should address the following issues:
names and/or titles of primary and secondary contacts;
telephone numbers and pager numbers for 24-hour contact; and
a brief description of major responsibilities of each party.
12. Revising Paragraph (o) of the PSM Standard to Require Third-Party Compliance Audits
Compliance audits are useful tools for evaluating a facility’s safety. However, we are concerned about
the intended definition of “third-party”. We strongly believe that third-party audit should not be limited
to hiring outside personnel to perform the audit. Outside consultants have their place, but facilities
should have the flexibility to utilize internal safety experts from other facilities or corporate
headquarters to perform audits.
Third party doesn’t necessarily equate to more qualified or independent auditors. Often third parties are
motivated to generate work for themselves as a result of an audit. When the PSM regulation was first
implemented there were many contractors that developed auditing capabilities as a way of generating
business. Often the internal auditor is more familiar with the process and the inherent risks. Internal
audit teams are often more thorough than a third party and share best practices from other facilities.
Using internal auditors develops the auditing experience and expertise in house where it is more
accessible as opposed to losing it to a third party. Process owners should have the ability to identify the
resources required to conduct audits whether it be by independent internal resource or a third party.
Requiring facilities to hire outside auditors also has the potential to put small businesses at a
disadvantage. Hiring auditors can be a costly process. If a small business has access to qualified internal
auditors, they should have the flexibility to use them.
Should OSHA move forward with this proposal, we strongly encourage the use of a definition similar to
the one used in Section 6.6.4 of IIAR Bulletin #110:
This inspection should be carried out by a person who has the training and knowledge for this
task, for example:
An employee of the owner, competent to perform inspections and who is
independent of the daily operating responsibilities for that installation
An independent organization or individual competent to perform inspections
An inspector from the insurance company who is licensed to write pressure
A licensed inspector from the jurisdiction where the pressure vessel or shell-and-
tube heat exchanger is located.
We are opposed to the agency defining certification requirements for third-party auditors.
Requirements for the credentials of the auditors has some merit, but due to the breath of the PSM
standard, a single standard is not recommended (i.e. Oil refinery is much different than a refrigeration
system). The performance based concept in PSM should be applied here, where the employer sets the
standard for the “qualifications” of the auditors.
In addition, certification is not required for PHA Team Leaders. The PHA process and the audit process
are equivalent and equally important activities, therefore there should not be added qualifications to
perform an audit. The following requirements are consistent with those for PHA team leaders and
should be applicable to auditors:
“One member of the audit team must be knowledgeable in the Process Safety Management
requirements and in auditing techniques.”
We are opposed to the requirement to mandate specific time frames to respond to issues identified
during an audit since no two audits and no two recommendations are identical. Some
recommendations can be implemented before the audit is completed, others may take years, and
significant capital investments, to fully implement. Having a written action plan and showing action on
items should be acceptable.
We believe that requiring audits every three years is an appropriate timeframe. Auditing more
frequently than every three years is an extra burden on the process owner since there is time and
expense associated with the auditing process whether it is internal or external. Audits are disruptive to
the normal operation of the process since the operating staff must also prepare and participate in
formal audits. This is particularly true of smaller entities whose staff’s handle multiple responsibilities.
Increasing the frequency of auditing to annual or bi-annual is no more likely to improve compliance than
the current three year requirement.
In addition to responses directly related to questions raised in the RFI, we would also like to address the
importance of investments in training and safety. Currently, penalties associated with citations result in
payments going directly to the U.S. Treasury. Under this system, funds associated with citations are
purely punitive and end there. In some cases, companies look at this as a “cost of doing business” and
merely pay the associated fines. We strongly believe that these resources would be better placed by
directing them to investments in training and upgrading safety programs. Such a mechanism would
facilitate a greater engagement between companies and the agency in addressing deficiencies and
developing stronger safety programs.
Education and improved training programs have been proven to be effective in improving the safety
record of ammonia facilities. Developing a system that would allocate some of the funds identified
through OSHA citations back into safety programs would be very effective in eliminating ammonia
releases and insuring a safer workplace. These programs may include worker safety training, basic
operator education programs, first responder equipment upgrades and training and required plant
facility upgrades. We strongly encourage OSHA to consider implementing a consent decree type
process similar to the Environmental Protection Agency that would allow OSHA and facilities to identify
ways to invest dollars related to citations that will have a direct impact in improving safety. Such a
process will result in a better trained workforce, stronger safety programs, increased capacity of
emergency responders and enhanced relationships with the agency.
We appreciate the opportunity to respond to the RFI and urge you to consider the comments and
recommendations included in this response. If you have questions about our submission please contact
Lowell Randel at 703-373-4300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Frozen Food Institute
American Meat Institute
Global Cold Chain Alliance
International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses
International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration
Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association