OSHA and employers under its new safety management exemption [US]

On October 20th, 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) detailed its interim enforcement policy regarding facilities that are no longer exempted from the Process Safety Management (PSM) standard.

OSHA will refrain from citing employers previously exempt from the PSM standard under the retail exemption until July 2016.

OSHA revision of the retail exemption

On July 22nd, 2015, OSHA revised its interpretation of the PSM retail exemption, permitting only facilities with NAICS codes 44 and 45 to qualify for the exemption.

OSHA believes that almost all facilities that are no longer exempted under the retail exemption are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency as Risk Management Program level 2 facilities.

Although the RMP level 2 facility requirements include a safety management system, employers must ensure that they have addressed all OSHA PSM requirements as well.

12 month enforcement period

For the first 12 months following the interpretation change on July 22nd, 2015, OSHA will provide compliance assistance to affected employers. This 12 month period is longer than the initial 6 month period, because online compliance tools were not available until October.

During this 12 month interim enforcement period, OSHA will exercise its enforcement discretion and refrain from citing employers for PSM standard violations, if the facility would not have been cited under the prior retail exemption policy.

OSHA will not exercise its discretion if workers are in immediate and severe danger, and OSHA determines that the employer has not made a reasonable good faith effort to eliminate or substantially control the hazard.

Red-on-line EHS Legalist

Sources:

OSHA, Standard interpretation, “PSM Retail Exemption Interim Enforcement Policy,” October 20th, 2015

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