Process Safety Management

Do you know what is Process Safety Management and why is it important to your process facilities?

Well, Process Safety Management (PSM) is the proactive identification, evaluation and mitigation or prevention of chemical releases that could occur as a result of failures in processes, procedures, or equipment (OSHA, U.S.). When applied correctly, process safety management could aid to prevent fires, explosions and the release of hazardous chemicals that could pose a safety risk to workers or the general public.

OSHA has introduced 14 elements of PSM:

Let’s understand briefly and go through each of the 14 elements of PSM!

Employee Involvement

Employee is the human asset of the company and they are also the ones to determine the safety of a plant. Hence employee participation in PSM programs are important. Employee participation is for employees, production, maintenance, and staff to be involved in all aspects of the PSM program at your site, and to have representation in the development, discussion, and eventual solution to issues around the process hazard analysis.

Process Safety Information

According to OSHA’s PSM mandates, “The employer shall complete a compilation of written process safety information before conducting any process safety hazard analysis required by the standard.” It means that all workers should be able to access and understand the technical data regarding the highly-hazardous-chemicals-related risks they face on the job.

Process Hazard Analysis

Process Hazard Analysis requires that engineers and maintenance leaders analyze the consequences of safety failures. This process analysis will be conducted as a team and includes at least one person “who has experience and knowledge specific to the process being evaluated” and is “knowledgeable in the specific process hazard analysis methodology being used.”

Operating Procedures

Startups following a turnaround, and after an emergency shutdown is included in this element. Standard Operating Procedures of these events should be documented and practiced by the operation and maintenance-teams-can-avoid-the-top-osha-violations/” >maintenance team.

Training

Workers who carry out processes involving highly hazardous chemicals need to be well-trained, and their training should have been accomplished through a competent source and be well-documented.

Contractors

Contractors must be well-informed of the hazards they face. Under the PSM National Emphasis Program, “The employer, when electing a contractor, shall obtain and evaluate information regarding the contract employer’s safety performance and programs. The employer shall inform contract employers of the known potential fire, explosion or toxic release hazards related to the contractor’s work and the process.”

Pre-startup Safety Review

OSHA expects employers to perform pre-startup safety reviews for both new and modified facilities even for a change in a single component.

Mechanical Integrity

Periodic, documented inspections are required for several systems, including pressure vessels and storage tanks, piping systems, relief and vent systems and devices, pumps, controls, etc. The inspectors conducting these inspections must not only be officially trained, their testing procedures must follow “recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices,” according to OSHA.

Hot Work Permit

Every employer needs to issue permits to employees and contractors who perform high-temperature work (e.g. welding) near covered processes. They also need to train their personnel to post and file these permits.

Management of Change

Many organizations choose to issue an MOC for every change because there are many details, and questions that maintenance and engineering have to answer satisfactorily to make this a safe process. Prior to any change, the following are considered:

  • The technical basis for the proposed change
  • Impact of change on safety and health
  • Modifications to operating procedures
  • Necessary time period for the change
  • Authorization requirements for the proposed change

Incident Investigation

An investigation is performed into all incidents that result in, or could reasonably have resulted in, a catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals (HHC).

Emergency Planning and Response

It requires employers to establish and implement an emergency action plan, including a plan to handle small releases.

Compliance Audits

According to the PSM-NEP, “Employers shall certify that they have evaluated compliance with the provisions of this section at least every three years to verify that the procedures and practices developed under the standard are adequate and are being followed.” It is also a requirement to retain the last two most recent audit reports.

Trade Secrets

Some companies attempted to protect proprietary information by keeping process details from their employees. To enhance worker safety, the “trade secrets” which may affect their health and safety are divulged to the workers.

Now that you have the basic knowledge about the 14 elements of PSM, find out how to manage them!