2014 — A Busy Year for OSHA Regulations

This year looks to be a busy one for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Two major initiatives pertaining to Process Safety Management and injury and illness recordkeeping are already under consideration by the agency and the long awaited proposed rule on Injury and Illness Prevention Programs appears to be on the horizon. Changes to these regulations could have a significant impact on the industrial refrigeration industry.


In December 2013, OSHA published a Request for Information (RFI) regarding Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations. The RFI was generated as a part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to implement Executive Order 13650 – Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security. The Executive Order requires OSHA to publish, within 90 days, an RFI designed to identify issues related to modernization of its PSM standard and related standards necessary to meet the goal of preventing major chemical accidents. The Executive Order came in response to the accident last year in West, Texas and directs OSHA, the Department of Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies to examine their regulations and propose ways to improve chemical safety and security.

Through the RFI, OSHA is requesting comments on possible revisions to the PSM standard. The PSM standard was originally promulgated in 1992 when OSHA was responding to a number of catastrophic releases of hazardous chemicals and set threshold quantities for specific substances to be regulated. For the industrial refrigeration industry, the most prevalent PSM chemical is ammonia and facilities with more than 10,000 pounds of ammonia are subject to PSM regulations.

The RFI represents the first major effort to revise PSM regulations since their inception. The request lists 17 areas where OSHA is considering potential regulatory changes, many of which could impact the industrial refrigeration industry. The following are some of the proposed changes of particular interest to IIAR members:

  • Revising the PSM Standard To Require Additional ManagementSystem Elements
  • Amending Paragraph (d) of the PSM Standard to Require Evaluation of Updates to Applicable recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices (RAGAGEP);
  • Clarifying the PSM Standard by Adding a Definition for RAGAGEP
  • Expanding the Scope of Paragraph (j) of the PSM Standard To Cover the Mechanical Integrity of Any Safety-Critical Equipment
  • Clarifying Paragraph (l) of the PSM Standard With an Explicit Requirement That Employers Manage Organizational Changes
  • Revising Paragraph (n) of the PSM Standard To Require Coordination of Emergency Planning With Local Emergency-Response Authorities
  •  Revising Paragraph (o) of the PSM Standard To Require Third-Party Compliance Audits

IIAR membership comprises thousands of PSM covered facilities across the nation so the above proposed changes to the standards are of great interest. The RFI is also important to IIAR because it specifically addresses RAGAGEP issues. IIAR is an ANSI accredited standards writing body whose standards are used as RAGAGEP by OSHA and other regulatory agencies. The RFI presents a good opportunity for IIAR to address the ways its standards are used by OSHA as RAGAGEP and overall RAGAGEP policies.

OSHA is seeking public comment on the RFI with a deadline of March 10, 2014. IIAR has developed a task force and is working with like-minded partners to develop formal comments in response to the RFI. IIAR members can review the RFI on the OSHA website at: https://www.osha. gov/chemicalexecutiveorder/OSHA_ PSM_RFI.pdf. Members are encouraged to contact IIAR headquarters if they have any questions or comments about the RFI.

It is expected that the RFI will be the first step in a process for OSHA to go through the formal rulemaking procedure to revise PSM. Once OSHA has analyzed the public comments received from the RFI, the next step will likely be the publication of a proposed rule, followed ultimately by a final rule. Because PSM is a complicated and far-reaching regulation, the formal process to change the rules will take some time. IIAR will continue to actively engage with OSHA as the process moves forward.


In late 2013, OSHA published a proposed rule entitled “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.” OSHA’s stated purpose of this rulemaking is to improve workplace safety and health through the collection of useful, accessible, establishment specific injury and illness data to which OSHA currently does not have direct, timely, and systematic access.

Currently, employers are compelled to report injury and illness data to OSHA under the following four circumstances:

  • The injury or illness results in death or overnight hospitalization (for more than observation) of three or more employees.
  • OSHA requests or subpoenas recordkeeping data during an enforcement inspection.
  • Information is requested as a part of OSHA’s Data Initiative Survey of industries with high injury and illness rates.
  • The Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) requests data for its Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.

The proposed rule would add the following three new reporting requirements for employers:

  • Employers with 20 or more employees and that are required to keep injury and illness records, must electronically submit these records to OSHA on a quarterly basis.
  • Establishments with 20 or more employees and are in certain designated industries must electronically submit their OSHA annual summary (Form 300A) on an annual basis. It is important to note that many IIAR end user industry codes are designated in the proposed rule.
  • Employers who receive specific notification from OSHA must electronically submit requested information from their Part 1904 injury and illness records.

According to the proposed rule, OSHA will use the electronic submissions to compile a database of timely, establishment-specific injuries and illnesses, and to identify workplaces where workers are at greater risk of illness and injury. Information submitted to the database would be publically accessible on-line. The public availability of the database is of great concern and would likely lead to serious unintended consequences.

Making the information publically accessible will likely result in underreporting of injuries and illnesses. Companies are likely to spend more time working on what should or should not be recorded, and less time working on proactive safety programs. There is also a privacy concern for employees. While names and other identifying information would be removed from the on-line database, enough information may be available to determine the identity of an employee, particularly by those with some connection to the company or individual. In addition, some employees may not want to “hurt” their company’s rates and be hesitant to report injuries. Information in the public database can also lead to misrepresentation or misinterpretation by third parties, as injury and illness records provide minimal details about incidents and all of the circumstances involved.

There is also a concern that the new reporting requirement will lead to increased inspections and enforcement activity. Under the quarterly reporting timeframe, injuries and illnesses will be reported every three months. OSHA has a six month statute of limitations from the occurrence of an injury or illness. Therefore, all recordable injuries and illnesses will be in front of OSHA no more than three months after they occur.

IIAR will continue to monitor the status of the proposed regulatory change and keep members informed of any changes to the compliance requirements. A copy of the proposed rule and related information can be found on the OSHA website at: https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/ proposed_data_form.html.


Establishment of Injury and Illness Prevent Programs (I2P2) regulations remains a top priority for OSHA leadership. I2P2 has been on the OSHA regulatory agenda for over two years, but the agency has yet to publish a proposed rule. However, there are strong indications that 2014 will be the year that a proposed rule will finally be published. The agency’s latest semiannual regulatory agenda states the goal of publishing a proposed rule for I2P2 by September 2014.

According to OSHA, Injury and Illness Prevention Programs are proactive processes that can substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries and illnesses. These systematic programs are designed to allow employers and workers to collaborate on an ongoing basis to find and fix workplace hazards before workers are hurt or become ill.

  • OSHA has identified the following five major elements of an effective I2P2 program: 
  • Management Leadership
  • Worker Participation
  • Hazard Identification and Assessment 
  • Hazard Prevention and Control
  • Education and Training

OSHA sites the use of I2P2 type programs in a number of states as demonstrating the success of this proactive approach to preventing workplace injuries. According to OSHA, thirty-four states currently have some type of program initiatives for worker safety and health protection.

Many IIAR members already address these elements in their current safety programs, particularly those subject to PSM regulations. However, there are concerns about the costs and burdens that would be placed on employers if the new program goes into effect. Much like the General Duty Clause, it is feared that OSHA will use the I2P2 standard to cite employers for failing to address a hazard, even if there is not an established hazard-specific standard. For example, some believe that I2P2 may be a way for OSHA to address ergonomics without advancing a rule on that specific topic.

Given the depth of concern being expressed by the business community, it is expected that the rulemaking process for I2P2 will be controversial and time consuming. IIAR will continue to engage with OSHA as the rulemaking process develops.