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Course 736 - Introduction to Process Safety Management

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Why We Have Process Safety Management

The Problem

736
There is a potential for an accidental release of highly hazardous chemicals any time they are not properly controlled.
(Click to enlarge)

Unexpected releases of toxic, reactive, or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals have been reported for many years. Incidents continue to occur in various industries that use highly hazardous chemicals which may be toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive, or may exhibit a combination of these properties.

Regardless of the industry that uses these highly hazardous chemicals, there is a potential for an accidental release any time they are not properly controlled. This, in turn, creates the possibility of disaster.

Recent major disasters include the following:

  • The 1984 Bhopal, India, incident resulting in more than 2,800 deaths.
  • The October 1989 Phillips Petroleum Company, Pasadena, TX, incident resulting in 23 deaths and 132 injuries.
  • The December 2005 Texas City Refinery explosion with 100 employees injured and 15 confirmed dead.
  • The February 2010 Connecticut power plant explosion which resulted in 27 injuries and five deaths.
  • The August 26, 2012 Amuay Oil Refinery explosion in Venezuela that wounded dozens and killed at least 39 people, including one child.
Hazardous chemical releases pose a significant threat to employees
Hazardous chemical releases pose a serious threat

A Disastrous Record

Several major disasters involving highly hazardous chemicals drew international attention to the potential for major catastrophes; the public record in the U.S. is replete with information concerning many other less notable releases of highly hazardous chemicals.

Hazardous chemical releases continue to pose a significant threat to employees and provide impetus, internationally and nationally, for authorities to develop or consider developing legislation and regulations to eliminate or minimize the potential for such events.

Chemical Safety Board
(Click to play video)

Methyl Isocyanate Tank Rupture and Release Bhopal, India – Dec. 2-3, 1984

On the night of December 2-3, 1984, a sudden release of about 30 metric tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC) occurred at the Union Carbide pesticide plant at Bhopal, India. The accident was a result of poor safety management practices, poor early warning systems, and the lack of community preparedness. The accident led to the death of over 2,800 people (other estimates put the immediate death toll as high as 8000) living in the vicinity and caused respiratory damage and eye damage to over 20,000 others. At least 200,000 people fled Bhopal during the week after the accident. Estimates of the damage vary widely between $350 million to as high as $3 billion.

Phillips 66 Houston Chemical Complex Pasadena, Texas – Oct. 23, 1989

1989 Pasadena TX Explosion video
(Click to play video)

On October 23, 1989, at approximately 1:00 p.m., an explosion and fire ripped through the Phillips 66 Company Houston Chemical Complex in Pasadena, Texas. Twenty-three workers were killed and more than 314 were injured. Property damage was nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars. The accident resulted from a release of extremely flammable process gases that occurred during regular maintenance operations on one of the plant's polyethylene reactors. The evidence showed that more than 85,000 pounds of highly flammable gases were released through an open valve. A vapor cloud formed and traveled rapidly through the polyethylene plant. Within 90 to 120 seconds, the vapor cloud came into contact with an ignition source and exploded with the force of 2.4 tons of TNT.

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OSHA Responds

On July 17, 1990, the U.S. Dept. of Labor, OSHA published in the Federal Register a proposed standard, - "Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals" (PSM) - containing requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using highly hazardous chemicals to help assure safe and healthful workplaces.

OSHA's proposed PSM standard emphasized the management of hazards associated with highly hazardous chemicals and established a comprehensive management program that integrated technologies, procedures, and management practices.

The Clean Air Act Amendments and the PSM Standard

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Shortly after the publication of OSHA's proposed PSM standard, Congress enacted the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) which contained revisions to the Clean Air Act of 1990.

Section 304 of the CAAA requires that the Secretary of Labor, in coordination with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), promulgate a PSM standard to prevent accidental releases of chemicals that could pose a threat to employees.

The CAAA also requires that the PSM standard include a list of highly hazardous chemicals which includes toxic, flammable, highly reactive, and explosive substances.

CAAA Requirements for the PSM Standard

The CAAA requires that the standard include a list of highly hazardous chemicals which includes toxic, flammable, highly reactive, and explosive substances. These requirements have become widely known as the “14 PSM Program Elements."

OSHA’s Final PSM Standard)

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The final PSM standard was promulgated in 1992 and requires the employer to incorporate each of the 14 key elements in a formal PSM program. The key provision of final PSM standard is process hazard analysis (PHA)—a careful review of what could go wrong and what safeguards must be implemented to prevent releases of hazardous chemicals. Employers must identify those processes that pose the greatest risks and begin evaluating those first.

PSM clarifies the responsibilities of employers and contractors involved in work that affects or takes place near hazardous processes to ensure that the safety of both plant and contractor employees is considered.

The standard also mandates written operating procedures; employee training; pre-startup safety reviews; evaluation of mechanical integrity of critical equipment; and written procedures for managing change. PSM specifies a permit system for hot work; investigation of incidents involving releases or near misses of covered chemicals; emergency, action plans; compliance audits at least every three years; and trade secret protection.

We will review each of the 14 Elements contained within the PSM standard throughout the remaining modules in this course.

Benefits of an Effective PSM Program

Effective PSM helps ensure the proper development of plant systems and procedures to prevent unwanted releases which may ignite and cause toxic impacts, local fires, or explosions in plants and installations.

PSM can also improve:

  • the operability, productivity, stability, and quality of the outputs of hazardous chemical processes; and
  • the design and specification of safeguards against undesirable events.

Effective PSM results in tangible benefits such as reduced exposure to lawsuits, OSHA penalties, public liability claims, and hikes in workers compensation insurance premiums.

Other intangible benefits include higher morale, increased trust, and an improved corporate image – the community sees the company as a responsible corporate citizen.

Instructions

Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. OSHA's Process Safety Management standard emphasizes the management of hazards associated with _____.

2. The Clean Air Acts Amendment (CAAA) requires that the PSM standard include _____.

3. Which of the following is the priority in which employers must identify and begin evaluating processes?

4. The PSM standard requires the employer to incorporate each of the _____ key elements in a formal PSM program.

5. Which of the following is a tangible benefit of an effective PSM program?


Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.