CA’s Latest Refinery Safety Regulation Approved

California’ Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board approved a new regulation that serves to strengthen process safety management around the state’s oil refineries.

Section 5189.1 was added to Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations, and will be enforced by Cal/OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) Unit. It was approved by the Standards Board and the Office of Administrative Law has 30 business days to review and approve it. This regulation is part of a larger initiative to make the state’s refineries safer for everyone, including the community around them. Another piece of regulation to strengthen the California Accidental Release Prevention (CalARP) program will be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law soon.

Under the new regulation, employers will need to conduct Damage Mechanism Reviews for processes that result in equipment or material degradation. They will also have to conduct a Hierarchy of Hazard Controls Analysis which will make sure that when managers are correcting hazards, they choose the most effective safety measures even while taking cost factors or other demands into account. They will implement a Human Factors Program, which is an analysis of things like staff training and competency, fatigue or shift work effects, and other elements.

In addition, employers will need to come up with written procedures for the Management of Organizational Change so that plant safety remains constant during staff changes. They will complete a Root Cause Analysis in their investigations of incidents that did result in, or could have resulted in, a serious incident. Employers will have to perform a Process Hazard Analysis of the safeguards that apply to particular processes and determine their effectiveness, and will identify and control hazards that are associated with every process. They will also be expected to maintain a Process Safety Culture Assessment program to get a sense of the perceptions and values that employees hold when it comes to safety and hazard response.

Director of the Department of Industrial Relations, Christine Baker, said that this is “the most protective regulation in the nation for the safety and health of refinery workers and surrounding communities”.

Many refineries in California practice some of these safety initiatives already, but there have been several significant incidents over the years that have been hazardous not just to workers but to the people living and working nearby. There has been a major effort over the past few years to try and change that and to reduce the dangers to employees and communities. The Interagency Refinery Task Force was established in 2013 to improve workplace safety and emergency preparedness/response at the state’s refineries. PSM used to conduct about two or three refinery inspections per year with an average of 80 hours at each site, but after adding significant staff to the unit, they conduct four planned inspections that average 2000 hours at each site and conduct “turnaround” inspections which take a refinery’s process entirely offline for a revamp.

What's your take? Continue the discussion with others over at the WCInsights LinkedIn Group.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email