A new National Emphasis Program for chemical facilities is designed to protect workers from catastrophic releases of highly hazardous chemicals such as ammonia.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a
new National Emphasis Program for chemical facilities to protect workers from
catastrophic releases of highly hazardous chemicals such as ammonia.
"Far too many workers are injured
and killed in preventable incidents at chemical facilities around the
country," says David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational
safety and health. "This program will enable OSHA inspectors to cover
chemical facilities nationwide to ensure that all required measures are taken
to protect workers."
The new program replaces OSHA's 2009
pilot Chemical Facility National Emphasis Program that covered several OSHA
regions around the country. The program establishes policies and procedures for
inspecting workplaces that are covered by OSHA's process safety management
(PSM) standard. The program's inspection process includes detailed questions
designed to gather facts related to PSM requirements and verification that
employers' written and implemented PSM programs are consistent. The intent of
the program is to conduct focused inspections at facilities randomly selected
from a list of worksites likely to have highly hazardous chemicals in
quantities covered by the standard.
OSHA's multi-year pilot program for
PSM-covered facilities uncovered many of the same safety-related problems that had
been found in an earlier program for the refinery industry, which also is
covered by the PSM standard, Michaels says. "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
Under OSHA, employers are responsible
for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. For more
information, go to www.osha.gov.