The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Oct. 20 it would extend its discretionary enforcement policy for Process Safety Management until July 22, 2016. Read the announcement...

The move gives retailers an additional six months to comply with PSM; however it falls well short of an optimal resolution.

Agricultural Retailers Association and The Fertilizer Institute filed a petition for judicial review in the District of Columbia Circuit Court in September and, in an October 7 letter to the agency, requested a stay of all PSM enforcement activities until legal challenges are resolved.

Although the extension of OSHA's discretionary enforcement policy is likely viewed by the agency as a major concession, in reality, is it not. It does not represent a true stay of enforcement because it's unlikely the DC Circuit Court will rule on the petitions for review by July 2016. Additionally, a six-month extension does not provide sufficient time to economically and efficiently meet the deadline for compliance.

Furthermore, under the discretionary enforcement policy OSHA may still exercise their enforcement authority during this time frame "if OSHA discovers conditions at such a facility that expose workers to an immediate and severe danger." Yet, OSHA does not define those conditions in the enforcement policy.

With an inadequate concession on the table, ARA and TFI intend to file motions in DC Circuit Court to secure a stay of enforcement through the resolution of our legal challenges.

ARA will continue to monitor this issue and update members as our judicial and legislative challenges progress. If you have questions, please contact ARA Public Policy Counsel Kyle Liske at kyle@aradc.org or (202) 457-0825. 

Learn more about PSM during the ARA Conference & Expo December 1-3 at the JW Marriott in Palm Desert, Calif. OSHA Industrial Hygienist Amber Rose will present a pre-conference seminar on PSM and the recently released hazard communications standards. Register now...