Refinery Manager
Facility Name
Plant Adress 1
Plant City, Plant State Plant Zip

Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing today to emphasize how important it is to you, your employees, and your company that your facility complies with all applicable Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, in particular with 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.119 Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (PSM). Results from OSHA's ongoing Petroleum Refinery Process Safety Management National Emphasis Program (NEP), described below, combined with the industry's history of serious accidents, underscore the need for you to ensure that the PSM programs at your facility are fully compliant with the requirements of §1910.119.

In the last fifteen years, the petroleum refining industry (Standard Industrial Code (SIC) 2911, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 32411) has had more fatal or catastrophic incidents related to the release of highly hazardous chemicals (HHCs) than any other industry sector covered by the PSM standard. Because of this, in 2007 OSHA initiated its refinery NEP to greatly reduce or eliminate the workplace hazards associated with the catastrophic release of HHCs at petroleum refineries. In the first year of the NEP, OSHA inspection teams completed inspections and issued citations at 14 refineries in 6 of OSHA's 10 regions. A total of 348 PSM citations, including proposed penalties, have been issued. These citations reflect the serious PSM compliance issues we have found at many refineries. We are particularly concerned that our inspection teams are seeing many of the same problems repeatedly, and that these include violations of provisions such as 1910.119(e)(5), (j)(2), and (j)(5), which are designed to ensure that deficiencies in critical process equipment are identified and corrected promptly.

These are the types of problems that have led to previous fatality / catastrophe incidents involving HHCs in refineries. Recent incidents include a massive explosion and fire in Texas City, TX, on March 23, 2005, that killed 15 employees and injured 170, as well as a large LPG release and subsequent explosion and fire in Big Spring, TX, on February 18, 2008, and a release and fire near Dumas, TX, on February 16, 2007. Previously, a January 19, 2005, refinery incident killed one employee and injured others in Bakersfield, CA, when a pump ruptured, causing a serious fire. Another incident at a refinery near Gallup, NM, on April 8, 2004, injured six employees when a release occurred during pump maintenance in the refinery's HF Alkylation unit.

These serious incidents reinforce the need for vigilant compliance with OSHA standards, particularly the PSM standard, which requires employers to develop comprehensive, site specific, integrated safety management systems to reduce the risks of incidents involving HHCs. Paragraphs c through p of the PSM standard describe the required elements of those programs. The table below lists these elements by their paragraph designations in the standard (excluding paragraphs (a), Application, and (b), Definitions).

Paragraph PSM Program Element Paragraph PSM Program Element
c Employee Participation j Mechanical Integrity
d Process Safety Information k Hot Work Permit
e Process Hazard Analysis l Management of Change
f Operating Procedures m Incident Investigation
g Training n Emergency Planning & Response
h Contractors o Compliance Audits
i Pre-startup Review p Trade Secrets

Conscientious compliance with the PSM standard will reduce the risk of an incident involving HHCs. To assist you in your compliance efforts, we suggest that you review the refinery NEP, which is posted at:

We also refer you to attachment A, which summarizes the results of the first 14 NEP inspections. Significantly, as shown in Figure 1 of the attachment, nearly 80% of the violations found related to paragraphs (f) Operating Procedures, (j) Mechanical Integrity, (e) Process Hazard Analysis, (d) Process Safety Information, and (l) Management of Change, of the standard. And, as shown in Figure 2, more than 50% of all violations were of just 18 specific requirements, which are listed under that figure.

In addition, attachment B to this letter contains abstracts of a representative sample of the citations proposed in the 14 inspections. You should consider these when reviewing the currentstatus of the process safety management program at your facility.

OSHA is available to provide assistance to companies facing all types of safety and health hazards. Additionally, companies participating in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) have access to a variety of compliance assistance tools.

Finally, as you may know, OSHA intends to inspect all U.S. refineries subject to Federal OSHA jurisdiction and not in the VPP under this NEP. Moreover, OSHA has strongly encouraged State Plan states with refineries to adopt this NEP, and the vast majority of them have done so. As a result, your refinery may have already been inspected, may currently be undergoing inspection, or can anticipate being inspected in the near future under this NEP.

If you have any further questions, please call OSHA's Office of General Industry Enforcement at 202-693-1850, or your State Plan or state consultation program. Information on both is available at

Thank you for your attention to this very important matter.


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs

cc: CEO First Name CEO Middle Initial CEO Last Name