OSHA Starts Emphasis Program on Chemical Facilities

Facilities to be inspected will be randomly selected from a list of sites likely to have highly hazardous chemicals in quantities covered by the process safety management standard.

OSHA has begun a new National Emphasis Program for chemical facilities, saying its goal is protecting workers from catastrophic releases of highly hazardous chemicals. "Far too many workers are injured and killed in preventable incidents at chemical facilities around the country," Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels said in the agency's Nov. 30 release. "This program will enable OSHA inspectors to cover chemical facilities nationwide to ensure that all required measures are taken to protect workers."

The program replaces OSHA's 2009 pilot Chemical Facility National Emphasis Program, which covered several OSHA regions, and likewise sets out the process for inspecting workplaces covered by OSHA's process safety management standard. Facilities to be inspected will be randomly selected from a list of sites likely to have highly hazardous chemicals in quantities covered by the standard.

"During our pilot Chemical NEP, we found many of the same safety-related problems that were uncovered during our NEP for the refinery industry, which is also covered by the PSM standard," Michaels said. "As a result, we are expanding the enforcement program to a national level to increase awareness of these dangers so that employers will more effectively prevent the release of highly hazardous chemicals."

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