OSHA Chemical National Emphasis Program (NEP)

Occupational Safety and Health Administration Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP).

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, recently issued a new directive for a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to address chemical facilities covered under OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) regulation. This NEP, described in OSHA directive CPL 02-09-06, is effective July 27, 2009 and will last for one year, after which it will be evaluated for renewal.

Who does the NEP Apply to?

You are a target of this OSHA National Emphasis Program if all 3 of the following apply:

  1. You are located in the OSHA Regions I, VII, or X
  2. You have one of the following PSM covered processes at your facility:
    • Process that uses ammonia or chlorine
    • Process that has received prior PSM citations
    • Process that submitted an EPA Program 3 Risk Management Plan (RMP)
    • Process that manufactures explosives
  3. You do NOT fall within the following categories:
    • Are a participant in OSHA’s VPP or SHARP programs
    • Are an oil refinery (NAICS Code 32411)
    • Have had a comprehensive PSM inspection within the last 2 years.

This OSHA National Emphasis Program will also be used if:

  • A formal complaint is filed against you involving a PSM covered process.
  • An accident occurs at your site involving a PSM covered process.
  • Your site is included in OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting (SST) Plan.

What are some details of the NEP?

The NEP is being described as a pilot program outlining a new approach for conducting site inspections. Part of the new approach is to focus on whether a company’s written PSM program is actually being implemented. As quoted in the directive….”OSHA has found that employers may have an extensive written [PSM] program, but insufficient program implementation”.

This new approach is also designed to increase the number of PSM inspections by limiting the inspection process to specific, predetermined questions rather than general questions as outlined in the PSM regulation compliance directive CPL-02-02-045.

This NEP is being referred to as a pilot program because it will apply to “programmed” inspections in the following 3 OSHA Regions only:

  • Region I Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
  • Region VII Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri
  • Region X Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho

By “programmed”, OSHA means planned inspections that are based on objective criteria as defined in the CPL 02-00-148 Field Operations Manual.

However, OSHA states this NEP will also be used in the other OSHA regions for:

  • “Unprogrammed” inspections, i.e., those resulting from a formal complaint or an accident involving a PSM covered chemical.
  • Facilities identified in OSHA’s SST Plan.

Some specific points about this NEP:

  • The inspections will be distributed between 3 categories as follows:
    Category PSM Process % of Inspections
    1 Use ammonia for refrigeration 25
    2 Use chlorine for water treatment 25
    3 All other PSM processes 50
  • Contractors (and subcontractors) working on or adjacent to PSM covered processes will be included in the walkaround part of the inspection.
  • OSHA inspectors will use a predetermined set of questions developed internally. This set of questions, referred to as a “dynamic list”, will be periodically changed based on the inspection results.
  • The Dynamic List of questions will not be available to the public.
  • The Dynamic List of questions will be developed for 5 categories:
    • PSM General
    • Ammonia Refrigeration
    • Water and/or Wastewater Treatment
    • Storage
    • Chemical Processing

What can I expect during the Inspection?

The inspection follows the same protocol as explained in OSHA’s Field Operations Manual, including an opening conference, document review, and facility walkaround.

There are some differences, however. These differences have to do with the fact that the inspection is PSM focused. Therefore, the information requested by the OSHA compliance officers will be PSM related information, such as:

  • Contractor employee injury and illness logs.
  • Process Safety Information (PSI) specified in the OSHA PSM standard.
  • A list of employees assigned to the PSM covered processes.
  • The initial PHA

How can Chilworth help you prepare for the inspection?

Preparing for an inspection using this NEP is similar to preparing for any other OSHA inspection, as the inspection follows the same protocol. However, because an inspection under this NEP is more targeted, your preparation can also be more targeted. Chilworth can assist you in your preparation by:

  • Conducting a gap analysis of your PSM program to identify areas where your actual PSM implementation practices do not match your written program
  • Recommend solutions to outstanding Corrective Actions from previous PHAs, incident investigations, audit findings, and PSM citations.
  • Conduct a mock inspection following the NEP protocol and typical questions similar to what could be expected in OSHA’s Dynamic List.

Chilworth Technology offers a one day training course to assist you in preparing for this newly issued OSHA PSM Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program (NEP) targeted inspection. In addition, we have a team of highly skilled process safety professionals that can provide independent, objective advice on improving your Process Safety Management (PSM) program.

For assistance regarding OSHA NEP for PSM Covered Chemical Facilities, please contact us at Tel: 609-799-4449, Fax: 609-799-5559, email: usa@chilworthglobal.com. You may also visit our website at: www.chilworth.com.