Chemical Federal agencies

Workgroup updates Obama on chemical facility safety; outlines future steps

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refinery --Nov13

Washington – A new report sent to President Barack Obama June 6 outlines the actions OSHA intends to take in the next year to improve safety and security at chemical facilities.

Written by OSHA, the Department of Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency, the report states that OSHA intends within a year to initiate a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act review of its proposal to update the agency’s Process Safety Management Standard.

Based on information received during a recent comment period for the PSM rulemaking, OSHA will consider addressing ammonium nitrate hazards, expanding coverage and requirements for reactive chemical hazards, covering oil and gas drilling, and requiring coordination between chemical facilities and emergency responders, among other initiatives.

The report also indicates OSHA is planning to work with Congress on strengthening the agency’s penalties. Currently, no statutory cap is in place for OSHA penalties assessed for individual violations; changing this would require an act of Congress.

Last year, Obama issued an Executive Order directing agencies and departments to make improvements on safety and security at chemical facilities in light of recent tragedies, including the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX, that killed at least 14 people.