NACD Needs Your Input on How OSHA’s New PSM Chemical Concentrations Policy Will Impact Your Company

NACD Needs Your Input on How OSHA’s New PSM Chemical Concentrations Policy Will Impact Your Company

August 01, 2015

The Issue: The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a memorandum that could subject your company to the rigorous Process Safety Management (PSM) standard. This new policy will substantially expand the universe of facilities covered by PSM. Rather than inviting public comment and conducting cost-benefit analyses through a formal rulemaking process as OSHA should have done for such a major change, the agency has imposed these new, immediate PSM requirements on companies by simply issuing a memo. NACD believes this is wrong. The American Chemistry Council has filed suit against OSHA, and NACD is joining this legal challenge.

Action Needed: To help NACD make an effective case against OSHA’s action before the U.S. Court of Appeals and on Capitol Hill, please log onto NACD and complete a brief survey on how the new PSM policy will impact your operations. Please complete the survey no later than COB on Friday, August 28.

What Does OSHA’s New Policy Mean? Through the memorandum, OSHA has revised its policy on the concentration of a chemical that must be present in a process, including storage, for the purpose of determining whether the chemical is at or above the threshold quantity listed in PSM’s Appendix A. Prior to the memo, OSHA used a “commercial grade” standard for the 127 chemicals on the list without specific concentration percentages. The agency has replaced this policy in favor of a one percent test as follows: In determining whether a process involves a chemical (whether pure or in a mixture) at or above the specified threshold quantities listed in Appendix A, the employer shall calculate: (a) the total weight of any chemical in the process at a concentration that meets or exceeds the concentration listed for that chemical in Appendix A, and (b) with respect to chemicals for which no concentration is specified in Appendix A, the total weight of the chemical in the process at a concentration of one percent or greater. However, the employer need not include the weight of such chemicals in any portion of the process in which the partial pressure of the chemical in the vapor space under handling or storage conditions is less than 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The employer shall document this partial pressure determination. In determining the weight of a chemical present in a mixture, only the weight of the chemical itself, exclusive of any solvent, solution, or carrier, is counted. For example, the commercial grade for hydrochloric acid solutions, a common inventory item for chemical distributors, is 32.5%. Under the new policy, this drops to just 1%. Thank you for your attention to this important issue and for helping NACD fight this classic example of regulatory overreach by filling out the survey. If you have questions, please contact NACD Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Jennifer Gibson at jgibson@nacd.com or (571) 482-3047.