CSB to OSHA: Extend PSM standard to onshore oil and gas drilling

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Photo: Chemical Safety Board

Washington — Onshore oil and gas wells need appropriate well planning and control measures in place to “mitigate the potential for the ignition of flammable material,” the Chemical Safety Board says.

The recommendation is one of many in the board’s recently released final report on a January 2020 fire at the Wendland oil well in Texas’ Burleson County.

Three workers died and another suffered serious injuries after an ignition of hydrocarbons triggered a flash fire. Investigators found that the well operator and its contractors failed to enact thorough planning and control measures, leading to the release of the hydrocarbons.

CSB says insufficient industry guidance on well control for wells in an underpressured reservoir also contributed to the incident.

The agency renews its call on OSHA to either extend its standard on process safety management to the drilling of onshore oil and gas wells, customize it to oil and gas drilling operations, or create a new standard.

Addressing the report during a Jan. 25 CSB public business meeting, investigator-in-charge Harold Griffin said OSHA “has historically exempted” onshore oil and gas drilling from its standards on PSM and lockout/tagout (1910.147) despite it being a high-risk industry.

Griffin added: “As a result, there are minimal regulations that govern onshore oil and gas drilling and servicing operations despite prior attempts to promulgate special rules for this industry.”

CSB also recommends that companies with onshore oil and gas operations incorporate ignition source risk assessments in organizational policies while following industry regulations on the placement of ignition sources.

“As the U.S. continues to expand domestic energy production, both industry and the federal government must ensure that onshore oil and gas operations are conducted safely and under proper oversight,” CSB Chair Steve Owens said in a press release. “Three workers died because adequate steps were not taken to prevent this blowout and the fire that resulted.”


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

OSHA updates enforcement policy on process safety management

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Photo: kodda/iStockphoto

Washington — OSHA has updated its process safety management enforcement policy for the first time in 30 years.

The agency announced the change in a directive that went into effect Jan. 26. The directive is intended for OSHA inspectors and other personnel, but also provides insight to employers and workers covered under the standard.

Much of the document is in a question-and-answer format, covering subjects such as:

  • Process hazard analysis
  • Operating procedures
  • Training
  • Incident investigations
  • Emergency planning and response
  • Compliance audits

Appendix A in the document is intended to clarify some parts of OSHA’s standard on PSM. Appendix B includes links to letters of interpretation, which formed the basis for the Q&A. Appendix C contains an index of common terms and phrases.

“OSHA promulgated the PSM standard in 1992 in response to the numerous catastrophic chemical manufacturing incidents that occurred worldwide,” the directive states. “Since the promulgation of the standard, numerous questions have been submitted and compliance guidance provided to industry on the application of the standard.”

State plans must notify OSHA of their intent to adopt the directive within 60 days. Otherwise, they must have policies and procedures that are “identical to or different from the federal program.” Either way, state plan adoption must occur within six months.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Safety board calls for an OSHA standard on liquid nitrogen

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Lack of warning signs for the presence of liquid nitrogen and an asphyxiation hazard at the entrance to the freezer room from the loading dock (left) and clean room (right). (Credit: CSB and Messer)

Washington — Chemical facilities that handle hazardous gases or cryogenic asphyxiants such as liquid nitrogen should maintain atmospheric monitoring and alarm systems and educate workers on hazards.

The recommendations are part of a recently released final report from the Chemical Safety Board on a fatal January 2021 liquid nitrogen release at the Foundation Food Group Inc. poultry processing plant in Gainesville, GA.

Six workers died and four others sustained serious injuries after a freezer malfunctioned and released colorless, odorless liquid nitrogen into the air, displacing the oxygen in the room.

Investigators found that multiple workers who entered the freezer room after their shift started to check on co-workers had never received training on the fatal effects of nitrogen exposure. The facility also lacked air monitoring and alarm devices that might have cautioned workers against entering the room.

“Workers were not aware of the deadly consequences of a liquid nitrogen release – ultimately, trying to save their colleagues led to them sacrificing their own lives,” CSB investigator-in-charge Drew Sahli said in a press release. “This is a known hazard, and better training and communication could have prevented such a tragedy.”

The report offers multiple safety lessons, including:

  • Processes and equipment that involve hazardous materials should be designed robustly enough that the failure of a single component cannot result in a catastrophic incident.
  • Designating competent and resourced staff with responsibility over specific safety programs is key to ensuring effective process safety. Management must be knowledgeable and involved in each of these safety programs to provide effective oversight.
  • Organizations must be cognizant of the hazards posed by the chemicals they handle and should implement effective process safety management systems to control process safety risks.

Further, CSB calls on OSHA to issue a national standard addressing hazards related to the storage, use, and/or handling of liquid nitrogen and other cryogenic asphyxiants. CSB also recommends OSHA include liquid nitrogen in its Regional Emphasis Programs for poultry processing and food manufacturing.

“CSB’s recommendations are important for preventing incidents involving liquid nitrogen and lessening their severity if they do occur,” CSB Chair Steve Owens said in the release. “The hazards of liquid nitrogen must be clearly communicated to workers, and the safety management systems for operations that use liquid nitrogen must be improved.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Chemical Safety Board calls for changes to OSHA’s PSM standard

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Photo: Chemical Safety Board

Washington — OSHA should amend its guidance on the control of reactive hazards element of its standard on process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals (1910.119), the Chemical Safety Board says.

CSB makes 15 recommendations, while outlining additional concerns, in a recently released final report on a deadly December 2020 chemical explosion at the Optima Belle facility in Belle, WV. One worker died after the explosion of a dryer that was removing water from the compound. The blast also led to serious property damage and a shelter-in-place order for the surrounding community.

According to the report, the dryer was over-pressurized in part because facility management “did not adequately understand the potential for, analyze the hazards of, or detect and mitigate the self-accelerating thermal decomposition reaction.” In addition, the company for which the facility was producing the chemical didn’t transmit sufficient PSM data to Optima Belle, and both organizations had “ineffective” PSM systems.

CSB renewed its call for OSHA to “broaden” the PSM standard “to cover reactive hazards resulting from process-specific conditions and combinations of chemicals,” as well as hazards from self-reactive chemicals.

The report details six safety lessons for the industry:

  • Don’t rely solely on chemical hazard information from Safety Data Sheets when using the chemical at elevated temperatures or pressures, or with other temperatures with which the chemical could react. Information can vary significantly between suppliers. Be prepared to perform additional hazard analyses or to seek additional publicly available information.
  • Ensure chemical hazard information identified from previous incidents, studies, and lab tests are maintained and organized in a manner that will allow workers to be aware of the information and its appropriate use.
  • Be aware of the multiple tools capable of identifying whether a chemical has thermal or reactive hazards that could trigger a process safety incident.
  • Make sure hazards involving new processes are controlled by evaluating process safety information on involved chemicals, examining the laboratory and pilot-scale process, and consult site safety and process engineering personnel to determine if the process can be safely conducted at the tolling facility at full production scale with existing equipment.
  • Create and maintain a robust safety management system to prevent reactive chemical incidents.
  • Know that outsourcing the production or processing of a hazardous material doesn’t outsource the responsibility for process safety.

McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Chemical Safety Board calls on OSHA to provide guidance on process hazard analysis

Original article published by Safety+Health

Photo: Chemical Safety Board

Washington — OSHA should develop guidance on the process hazard analysis element of its standard on process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals (1910.119), the Chemical Safety Board recommends in a final report on an April 2018 explosion and fire at a Wisconsin refinery.

CSB makes 16 recommendations in the report that are directed at OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the American Petroleum Institute, two energy companies and the Husky Energy refinery in Superior.

The explosion occurred in the refinery’s fluid catalytic cracking unit while workers were on a break during a scheduled maintenance shutdown. Debris from the ensuing blast flew about 200 feet and punctured an aboveground storage tank containing asphalt. This caused more than 15,000 barrels of hot asphalt to spill into the refinery. The asphalt ignited about two hours later, resulting in a large fire.

OSHA’s PSM standard requires employers to have safety programs that identify, evaluate and control hazardous chemicals. CSB calls for the recommended agency guidance to place particular focus on safe operating procedures during transient operations – including startup, shutdown, standby and emergency – in facilities with processes covered by the PSM standard.

“Transient operations can pose unique hazards that may not occur during normal process operations,” the report states.

In addition to the recommendations, CSB outlines multiple lessons aimed at preventing incidents and “driving chemical safety change” within the industry. They include:

• Ensure operators understand how air or oxygen may enter during transient operations involving flammable materials, and how oxygen should be purged from the system to prevent the formation of flammable mixtures.

• Understand the process and reasoning behind venting and purging procedures and the impact these carry on process units.

• Perform process hazard analyses on critical operating procedures to spotlight hazards that occur during transient operations.

• Include in operator training hands-on opportunities for “rare but critical tasks,” including shutting down a process unit safely for a turnaround.

“These safety issues seek to address incident causes,” CSB member Sylvia Johnson said in a press release. “We call on refineries, trade groups, and regulators to examine our final report and apply the key lessons to help ensure safe operations at facilities throughout the country and to develop and adopt effective emergency response practices.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.