Today's News / Facility Safety / Government Regulations

NIOSH withdraws support for ‘safety case’ approach to chemical facility safety

July 3, 2014
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+

chemical plantThe National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has changed its position on including “safety case” principles in OSHA’s process safety management (PSM) standard.

The safety case framework – which is backed by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) –would require companies to demonstrate – through a  written report – how major hazards are to  be controlled and risks reduced to  “as low as reasonably practicable” (ALARP). According to the CSB, a safety case approach represents a fundamental change by shifting the responsibility for continuous reductions in major accident risks from regulators to the company. That framework is in use in regulatory regimes such as those in the UK, Australia, and Norway.

Designing out hazards

One feature of the safety case approach is that it calls for implement safety designs – a concept seemingly compatible with NIOSHS’s Prevention through Design (PtD) initiative.

Initial support

In a March 6 letter to OSHA, during a public comment period on possible revisions to the agency’s process safety management (PSM) regulations, NIOSH initially supported the safety case as proactive and performance-based.

“The employer is responsible for ensuring safe operation of the facility and a license is required to operate the hazardous process/facility,” wrote NIOSH.

Concerns from stakeholders

However, three months later NIOSH Director of Education and Information Paul Schulte asked OSHA to remove his agency’s comments from the public record, “based on a re-evaluation of the scientific evidentiary foundation” for the original comments.

Schulte said concerns from stakeholders about the earlier comments prompted a reevaluation of the issue, after which NIOSH determined there was a lack of an evidentiary basis for the safety case.

Chemical accident prevention

OSHA’s request for information (RFI) was in response to an Obama Administration request that the agency identify issues related to modernization of its PSM standard and related standards necessary to meet the goals of preventing major chemical accidents, such as the uncontrolled release of highly hazardous chemicals in West, Texas, on April 17, 2013 that killed 15 people.

CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso has said the safety case approach could help the nation ameliorate what he says is, “an industrial chemical safety crisis” in the U.S.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

ASSE Safety 2014 Review

A gallery of photos from the sprawling Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, where ASSE’s annual professional development conference was held June 8-11. All photos courtesy of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

9/9/14 2:00 pm EDT

Welding: It doesn't have to be a grind. The latest in respiratory protection and PPE for welders and grinder

Attendees of this webinar will gain knowledge of hazards and appropriate PPE for welding applications, regulatory drivers that are changing the landscape of PPE within welding applications and the latest product technologies being offered in welding PPE.

ISHN Magazine

ISHN_0814cov.jpg

2014 August

Check out ISHN's August issue which features content about pain prevention, forklift operation safety and a preview of the National Safety Congress and Expo.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE ISHN STORE

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - May 2014

ISHN0514FDO_cover.jpgFor Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. CHECK OUT THEMAY 2014 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.