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Course 736 - Introduction to Process Safety Management

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

How the PSM Standard Applies

Application

The PSM standard mainly applies to manufacturing industries - particularly, those pertaining to chemicals, transportation equipment, and fabricated metal products. Other affected sectors include natural gas liquids; farm product warehousing; electric, gas, and sanitary services; and wholesale trade. It also applies to pyrotechnics and explosives manufacturers covered under other OSHA rules and has special provisions for contractors working in covered facilities.

Any group of vessels that are interconnected are part of a process.

The various lines of defense incorporated into the design and operation of the PSM process should be evaluated and strengthened to make sure they are effective at each level. Process safety management is the preventive (proactive) identification, evaluation and mitigation or prevention of chemical releases that could occur as a result of failures in processes, procedures, or equipment.

What is a "process?"

To understand PSM and its requirements, employers and employees need to understand how OSHA uses the term "process" in PSM.

  1. Any group of vessels which are interconnected, and
  2. Separate vessels which are located such that a highly hazardous chemical could be involved in a potential release

For purposes of this definition, any group of vessels that are interconnected, and separate vessels located in a way that could involve a highly hazardous chemical in a potential release, are considered a single process.

1. Process safety management is the _____ identification, evaluation and mitigation or prevention of chemical releases that could occur as a result of failures in processes, procedures, or equipment.

a. preventive - proactive
b. reactive - corrective
c. aggressive - short-term
d. random - regular

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What industries does PSM target?

The process safety management standard targets highly hazardous chemicals that have the potential to cause a catastrophic incident.

OSHA's standard applies mainly to manufacturing industries–particularly those pertaining to chemicals, transportation equipment, and fabricated metal products. Other affected sectors include those involved with:

  • natural gas liquids
  • farm product warehousing
  • food processing
  • electric, gas, and sanitary services
  • wholesale trade
  • pyrotechnics and explosives manufacturers

It has special provisions for contractors working in covered facilities.

What does the employer need to develop?

To control these types of hazards, employers need to develop the necessary expertise, experience, judgment, and initiative within their work force to properly implement and maintain an effective process safety management program as envisioned in the OSHA PSM standard.

2. The process safety management standard targets highly hazardous chemicals that have the potential to cause a _____ incident.

a. fatal
b. dangerous
c. catastrophic
d. planned

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Reduce quantities of highly hazardous chemicals onsite in order to reduce the risk for catastrohic incidents.
Reduce quantities of highly hazardous chemicals onsite in order to reduce the risk for catastrophic incidents.

PSM Impact

OSHA believes that the PSM requirements has a definite positive effect on the safety of employees and offers other potential benefits to employers, such as increased productivity.

How to Reduce Risk

Employers, including small employers, may establish more efficient inventory control by reducing the quantities of highly hazardous chemicals onsite to below the established threshold levels. This reduction can be accomplished by ordering smaller shipments and maintaining the minimum inventory necessary for efficient and safe operation.

When reduced inventory is not feasible, the employer might consider dispersing inventory to several locations onsite. Dispersing storage into locations so that a release in one location will not cause a release in another location is also a practical way to reduce the risk or potential for catastrophic incidents.

3. Employers may establish more efficient inventory control by reducing the quantities of highly hazardous chemicals to below the _____.

a. minimum HAZCOM levels
b. maximum HAZCOM levels
c. the detectable threshold
d. the established threshold

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Twenty-three workers were killed and more than 130 were injured.
PSM does not apply to oil or gas well drilling or servicing.

Who is Not Covered by the PSM Standard?

The PSM standard does not apply to the following:

  • retail facilities;
  • oil or gas well drilling or servicing operations;
  • normally unoccupied remote facilities;
  • hydrocarbon fuels used solely for workplace consumption as a fuel (e.g. propane used for comfort heating, gasoline for vehicle refueling), if such fuels are not a part of a process containing another highly hazardous chemical covered by this standard; and
  • flammable liquid stored in atmospheric tanks or transferred which are kept below their normal boiling point without benefit of chilling or refrigerating and are not connected to a process.

4. The PSM standard does NOT apply to _____.

a. chemical manufacturing facilities
b. normally unoccupied remote facilities
c. farm product warehouse facilities
d. pyrotechnics manufacturing facilities

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BP American Refinery Explosion – Texas City, Texas March 23, 2005
BP American Refinery Explosion – Texas City, Texas March 23, 2005

BP American Refinery Explosion – Texas City, Texas March 23, 2005

At approximately 1:20 p.m. on March 23, 2005, a series of explosions occurred at the BP Texas City refinery during the restarting of a hydrocarbon isomerization unit. Fifteen workers were killed and 180 others were injured. Many of the victims were in or around work trailers located near an atmospheric vent stack. The explosions occurred when a distillation tower flooded with hydrocarbons and was over pressurized, causing a geyser-like release from the vent stack.

CSB investigators found that BP, trade associations, and U.S. regulators evaluated the safety of offshore facilities by focusing on lagging indicators like injury reports rather than leading indicators like data reflecting the quality of management programs to prevent potential accidents. The investigators recommended expanded use of process safety management leading indicators.

5. A major causal finding by CSB investigators of the BP American Refinery explosion was that BP and similar companies _____.

a. do not use the data from performance indicators
b. give lagging indicator data less importance
c. focus on lagging indicator data
d. emphasize leading indicator data

Check your Work

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Video

Video

Anatomy of a Disaster tells the story of one of the worst industrial accidents in recent U.S. history--the March 23, 2005, explosion at the BP refinery in Texas City, Texas, which killed 15 workers, injured 180 others, and caused billions of dollars in economic losses. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, an independent federal agency, investigated the accident. The CSB produced this video in March 2008 based on its comprehensive 341-page public report issued in 2007.

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