Table of Contents:

Trade Secrets

Employers must make available all information necessary to comply with PSM to those persons responsible for compiling the process safety information, those developing the

PHA, those responsible for developing the operating procedures, and those performing incident investigations, emergency planning and response, and compliance audits, without regard to the possible trade secret status of such information. Nothing in PSM, however, precludes the employer from requiring those persons to enter into confidentiality agreements not to disclose the information.

OSHA's Response

Because of a large number of serious incidents, OSHA felt that a definitive standard was warranted. Thus, the OSHA process safety standard was promulgated in 29 CFR 1910.119. Its purpose was to prevent catastrophic accidents caused by the major releases of highly hazardous chemicals. To comply with this standard, industries must have written operating procedures, mechanical integrity, and formal incident investigation procedures. Other key elements are as follows:

  • • Coverage—The process safety standard is usually associated with large chemical and petrochemical processing plants. It is broader than that and can include other processes such as mechanical and electrical processes in industries such as manufacturing, aerospace, nuclear, transportation, and distribution.
  • • Employee participation—The standard requires that employees be involved in all aspects of the PSM program.
  • • Process safety information—Employees must be given access to any information maintained under the standard including chemical, process, and equipment data. The company must maintain these process safety information files.
  • • PHAs—PHAs are to be carried out by the employer on all processes covered by the standard. A PHA is to identify potential issues so that immediate corrective preventive action can be undertaken.
  • • Standard operating procedures (SOPs)—The standard requires that SOPs be established and maintained for safety, and applied to handling, processing, transporting, and storing of hazardous materials.
  • • Requirements for contractors—Contractors must have a comprehensive safety and health program, must understand the materials (i.e., chemicals) they need to work with and around, including emergency plans and other important information, occasionally evaluate their overall safety and health performance for compliance and performance, and maintain OSHA injury and illnesses records for contractors.
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