The year-end funding bill passed by the U.S. Congress pushed back the enforcement date of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) policy change requiring ag retail facilities selling anhydrous ammonia to comply with Process Safety Management (PSM) rules.

OSHA had planned to begin PSM enforcement as of July 22, 2016, with Risk Management Plans (RMP) updates from retailers being with the agency by Jan. 22, 2017. Congress’s budget bill at the end of 2015 contained a provision pushing that enforcement date to be after Sept. 30, 2016, at the end of the budget fiscal year. If Oct. 1 becomes the enforcement date by OSHA, there are no details on what the RMP update deadline might be, or if it stays Jan. 22.  

The Agricultural Retailers Association, along with The Fertilizer Institute, continues to pursue judicial and legislative remedies to reverse the OSHA enforcement decree, which set aside a historical exemption for most retailers, requiring a whole set of procedural, operation and organization design standards. Those kind of requirements in the past have been reserved for large-scale manufacturing facilities of hazardous chemicals.  

“Although our members expected certainty following the clear instruction Congress provided OSHA in the appropriations bill, the retail exemption to the Process Safety Management standard remains up in the air. ARA continues to actively pursue durable legislative and legal resolutions that will reach beyond Sept. 30, 2016,” ARA said in a statement.

The costs associated with compliance and new RMP for retailers will be highly expensive without providing appreciable upgrades to safety related to storage and sales of NH3, according to critics of OSHA dropping the retail exemption in PSM.