Don’t Forget the Paperwork

It seems relatively simple: If the emergency contact for your facility changes, you must submit a corrected Risk Management Plan to the EPA within one month if your facility is covered by EPA’s Risk Management Program Rule (40 CFR Part 68). Yet facilities often neglect to do this, many because they’re unaware it’s necessary, according to Peter Jordan, Senior Principle Engineer at MBD Risk Management Services.

“The EPA has said that this is one of the most commonly deficient items they find,” Jordan says.

EPA regulations also require that facilities submit an updated RMP every five years, or within six months of a change which requires an updated process hazard analysis. These straightforward tasks can save facilities unexpected fines.

Having updated Process Safety Management and Risk Management Programs are among the most important factors that lead to a good outcome when OSHA and EPA inspectors come knocking on your door. It may seem like only paperwork, but failure to follow these steps can lead to big citations.

“You should have a clear description of who is responsible for managing the programs at your facilities,” Jordan says. “Many facilities never update their organizational charts. It’s one of those trivial things that you should never be cited for, but it’s a common issue.”

The need to report organizational changes in a timely manner, or in a more serious circumstance, to report an ammonia release to all necessary agencies, is often misunderstood. In 2012, an organic food company processing facility was fined for not notifying all required agencies about an ammonia release. Although the EPA said the company did report the ammonia release to the state’s department of environmental protection, it did not immediately report it, as required, to the state’s emergency management agency and to the county’s emergency services office.

Not reporting the ammonia release to all required agencies violated the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. According to the EPA’s web site, the act: “Mandates that facilities immediately notify state and local emergency response officials of significant releases of hazardous chemicals, and to provide follow-up reports on response actions and public health effects. This information ensures that state and local officials have timely and complete information to respond to chemical emergencies.”

Making certain your PSM and Risk Management Programs are current includes updating the maximum intended ammonia inventory whenever a change occurs which could affect the inventory. Regulations also require that the pressure release design and design basis be updated whenever there are changes in the system. According to Jordan, OSHA has been finding cases where these items were never properly documented and/or have not been updated when necessary.

It’s important to note that the management of change, or MOC, and pre-start up safety review, or PSSR, procedures must be followed prior to implementing any changes in the system if the facility is covered by PSM and Risk Management Program regulations.

Four presenters will address these points during a seminar at this year’s IIAR conference in Nashville. The educational program will examine IIAR’s Process Safety Management and Risk Management Program Guidelines and focus on strategies for its implementation. In addition, this seminar will discuss how to conduct effective audits for regulatory compliance. The seminar will conclude on a discussion of typical PSM and Risk Management Program weaknesses that are consistently arising as a result of regulatory inspections conducted as part of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program.

Issues related to Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices (RAGAGEP) will also be highlighted during the seminar. “RAGAGEP is one item inspectors thoroughly examine when conducting compliance audits,” Jordan says. For example, inspectors have issued citations for failure to provide and maintain proper emergency exits, failure to provide adequate protection from forklifts, and failure to properly design pressure relief systems.

The lack of preventative maintenance often leads to citations. The tests and inspections conducted as part of the preventive maintenance program must follow RAGAGEP. In addition, procedures should be written to describe in detail how these tests and inspections will be conducted. Facilities must also be able to document that personnel have been adequately trained on the procedures.

The IIAR established a task force in 2010 to update the IIAR Process Safety Management and Risk Management Program guidelines with the goal to publish a complete rewrite of the existing guidelines. The guidelines were revised to reflect OSHA and EPA clarifications, along with current PSM and Risk Management Program practices. The first section of the each of the new guidelines describes the purpose of that section and contains a list of regulatory requirements and clarifications. The second section contains a “fill-in-the-blank” element with “tips” for implementation.

The bottom line: It doesn’t require the imminent threat of danger or a fault in your system for your facility to be cited. Sometimes, it just comes down to the paperwork.