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Course 736 - Introduction to Process Safety Management

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

Operating Procedures

Establishing and implementing written procedures for operations and maintenance is critical to avoid a catastrophic release of chemicals.
Establishing and implementing written procedures for operations and maintenance is critical to avoid a catastrophic release of chemicals.

Employer Requirements

The employer must develop and implement written operating procedures that provide clear instructions for safely conducting activities involved in each covered process consistent with the process safety information.

For example, operating procedures that address parameters will include instructions about:

  • pressure limits,
  • temperature ranges,
  • flow rates, what to do when an upset condition occurs, and
  • what alarms and instruments are pertinent if an upset condition occurs.

Another example of using operating instructions to properly implement operating procedures for process start-up and shut-down. Different parameters will be required from those of normal operation. In this example, operating instructions need to:

  • clearly indicate the distinctions between startup and normal operations, such as the appropriate allowances for heating up a unit to reach the normal operating parameters.
  • describe the proper method for increasing the temperature of the unit until the normal operating temperatures are reached.

1. Which of the following Process Safety Management (PSM) program elements provides specific instructions on the steps to take in a process?

a. Process hazard analysis
b. Operating procedures
c. Mechanical integrity
d. Management of change

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Operating Procedure Elements

The procedures must address at least the following elements:

  1. Steps for Each Operating Phase:

    • Initial startup;
    • Normal operations;
    • Temporary operations;
    • Emergency shutdown, including the conditions under which emergency shutdown is required, and the assignment of shut down responsibility to qualified operators to ensure emergency shutdown is executed in a safe and timely manner;
    • Emergency operations;
    • Normal shutdown; and
    • Startup following a turnaround, or after an emergency shut down.
  2. Operating Limits:

    • Consequences of deviation, and
    • Steps required to correct or avoid deviation.
  3. Safety and Health Considerations:

    • Properties of, and hazards presented by, the chemicals used in the process;
    • Precautions necessary to prevent exposure, including engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment;
    • Temporary operations;
    • Control measures to be taken if physical contact or airborne exposure occurs;
    • Quality control for raw materials and control of hazardous chemical inventory levels;
    • Any special or unique hazards; and
    • Safety systems (e.g., interlocks, detection or suppression systems) and their functions.

2. Which of the following should be addressed when determining operating limits?

a. Emergency shutdown procedures
b. Steps required to correct or avoid deviation
c. Quality control of raw materials
d. Properties and hazards presented by chemicals

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Operating Procedure Requirements

PSM operating procedures should describe:

  • tasks to be performed,
  • data to be recorded,
  • operating conditions to be maintained,
  • samples to be collected, and
  • safety and health precautions to be taken.

The procedures need to be technically accurate, understandable to employees, and revised periodically to ensure that they reflect current operations.

The process safety information package helps to ensure that the operating procedures and practices are consistent with the known hazards of the chemicals in the process and that the operating parameters are correct.

Operating procedures should be reviewed by engineering staff and operating personnel to ensure their accuracy and that they provide practical instructions on how to actually carry out job duties safely. OSHA believes that tasks and procedures related to the process must be appropriate, clear, consistent, and most importantly, well communicated to employees.

3. Which of the following does OSHA believe is the most important requirement for tasks and procedures related to a process?

a. They should be appropriate
b. They should be clear
c. They should be well communicated
d. They should be consistent

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Operating Procedure Requirements (Continued)

Operating procedures must be readily accessible to employees who work in or maintain a process:

  • to make sure that a ready and up-to-date reference is available, and
  • to form a foundation for needed employee training.

The operating procedures must be reviewed as often as necessary to ensure that they reflect current operating practices, including changes in process chemicals, technology, and equipment, and facilities.

The employer must certify annually that these operating procedures are current and accurate to guard against outdated or inaccurate operating procedures.

The employer must develop and implement safe work practices to provide for the control of hazards during work activities such as:

  • lockout/tagout;
  • confined space entry;
  • opening process equipment or piping; and
  • control over entrance into a facility by maintenance, contractor, laboratory, or other support personnel.

These safe work practices must apply both to employees and to contractor employees.

4. How often must operating procedures be reviewed to ensure they reflect current operating practices?

a. As often as necessary
b. Monthly
c. Quarterly
d. Annually

Check your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again.



This Chemical Safety Board safety video depicts events leading to the August 28, 2008, catastrophic explosion and fire at the Bayer CropScience facility in Institute, WV, that fatally injured two workers.

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