The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently changed its interpretation of the retail exemption under the Process Safety Management regulations.

Under the new interpretation, retail facilities are only exempt if their primary North American Industry Classification System code starts with 44 or 45. It is estimated that under this new interpretation an additional 4,800 facilities will now be subject to PSM. 3,800 of the 4,800 are estimated to be agricultural retail facilities.

The Agricultural Retailers Association has met with personnel from OSHA and congressional staff on this issue.  At a meeting Monday with OSHA, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor, Jordan Barab, stated OSHA's plan is to work towards compliance over the next six months and not enforce PSM regulations unless there are significant hazards that would compel OSHA to inspect.

ARA has submitted a written statement to OSHA explaining the industry's nine primary concerns with the change in interpretation. ARA's concerns include a lack of added safety benefit and the logistical and financial impossibility of complying with PSM in only six months.

One of biggest difference between OSHA and ARA revolves around costs. OSHA is confident in their estimate that it will only cost $2,160 per facility, while the industry believes this grossly underestimates the true expense of compliance. ARA has asked OSAH to provide information on how they decided how much it will cost the industry to comply.

ARA will continue to monitor and update members on this issue.