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March 24, 2014
Prevent chemical accidents with these Process Safety Management basics

Chemicals are essential to many business operations, but when things go wrong, the impact is often deadly. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has produced a dramatic new video that may help you communicate the importance of chemical safety to your employees.

The CSB is an independent federal agency that investigates chemical accidents. The board has created a 4-minute video that features the sister of a worker killed in the 2010 explosion and fire at a Washington state refinery. “The Human Cost of Gasoline” explores how losing a loved one in a chemical accident affects family members.

In the video, the victim’s sister talks about her loss and, four years after the tragic incident, her hopes that laws will be changed to prevent similar accidents in the future.

Make sure your chemical safety training is heard and heeded

You can access the video from the CSB website ( The moving message could be a valuable addition to traditional chemical safety training.

Is it time for a review of process safety management (PSM) procedures at your facility? OSHA’s PSM standard contains requirements for safely managing hazards associated with using, storing, manufacturing, handling, or moving highly hazardous chemicals on-site. It emphasizes an established, comprehensive program that integrates technologies, procedures, and management practices.

The standard addresses issues including the following:

Why is it necessary? There is a potential for an accidental release of highly hazardous chemicals any time the chemicals are not properly controlled. A release in turn creates the possibility of a disaster.

What industries are covered? PSM applies mainly to manufacturing industries, particularly those that address chemicals, transportation equipment, and fabricated metal products. Other affected sectors are those involving natural gas liquids; farm product warehousing; food processing; electric, gas, and sanitary services; and wholesale trade.

What is required? The key provision of the standard is a process hazard analysis (PHA) based on a gathering of process safety information. The PHA is basically a careful review of what can go wrong and what safeguards must be in place to prevent releases. The standard also describes required written operating procedures, employee training and involvement, pre-start-up safety reviews, evaluation of mechanical integrity, contractor requirements, and procedures for managing changes. PSM requires a permit system for hot work, incident investigation, emergency action plans, regular compliance audits, and trade secret protection.

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