OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

January 8, 1993

Mr. Randall Osborne
Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International,
P.O. Box 1298
El Dorado, Kansas 67042

Dear Mr. Osborne:

This is in response to your August 28 letter which requested an interpretation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA's) standard on Process Safety Management (PSM) of Highly Hazardous Chemicals as it pertains to employee participation. Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding.

In your letter you stated that the management at a workplace, where employees you represent work, mandated that top operators of process units provide the company with step-by-step procedures for routine tasks performed on their operating units. You also stated that in some cases threats of disciplinary action up to and including discharge have been leveled against your members who question or hesitate to cooperate. In consideration of this scenario, you questioned what OSHA intended as far as employer compliance with 1910.119(c) on employee participation in process safety management.

The employee participation standard at 1910.119(c) is intended to provide for a cooperative participatory environment and necessary flow of information from management to employees and from employees to management on process safety to eliminate or mitigate the consequences of catastrophic releases of highly hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Paragraph 1910.119(c)(2) contains language taken from the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) of 1990. As prescribed by the CAAA, the standard at 1910.119(c)(3) requires that PSM information developed by the employer be made available to employees and their representatives. By OSHA interpretation, CAAA requirements also demand that an employer carefully consider and structure the plant's approach to employee involvement in the PSM program.

The plan-of-action standard at 1910.119(c)(1) is intended to address this issue to ensure that the employer actively considers the appropriate method of employee participation in the implementation of the PSM Program in the workplace.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. If we may be of further assistance, please contact us.


Roger A. Clark,
Directorate of Compliance Programs