The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration is seeking public comment on potential revisions to its Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals Standard (PSM), which contains management requirements for safe handling of ammonia, ammonium nitrate and other hazardous chemicals.

Specifically, the agency seeks input on the following topics that will directly impact ARA member's operational costs if revised:

  1. Changing enforcement policy of the PSM exemption for retail facilities
  2. Revising the PSM standard to require third-party compliance
  3. Updating regulations on the storage, handling and management of ammonium nitrate (https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=9755&p_table=STANDARDS)
  4. Expanding PSM coverage and requirements for reactivity hazards
  5. Changing enforcement policy for highly hazardous chemicals listed in Appendix A of the PSM standard regardless of specific concentrations

Background

The request for comments is in response to Executive Order 13650: Improving Chemical Storage Facility Safety and Security, which was issued in August following the West, Texas, incident. Since April, ARA has been educating government agencies on the existing regulatory burdens faced by ag retailers and our progress towards ResponsibleAg, an industry-led regulatory compliance and safety management system. 

ARA testified before a multi-agency panel on specific provisions of Executive Order 13650 and emphasized that regulations impacting retailers need to be practical, economically feasible and not outweigh the perceived benefits.

Although OSHA and other federal agencies recognize existing regulations on retailers, they continue to push for more regulations as the solution to preventing another accident like the one in West..

Your Comments are Needed

ARA and its members have 90 days to submit written comments to OSHA before they make decisions about furthering costly regulations. In preparation for this comment period, ARA members should review the pertinent aspects of the request for information and send comments to Michael Kennedy, ARA Public Policy Counsel (michael@aradc.org). ARA intends hold conference calls and review draft comments via ARA's Safety and Security Working Group.

For more information on the EO, visit www.osha.gov/chemicalexecutiveorder/index.html.