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 http://www.osha.gov.

January 5, 1995

Mr. Mike McDonald Safety Coordinator
Nisseki Chemical Texas Inc.
10500 Bay Area Blvd.
Pasadena, Texas 77507

Dear Mr. McDonald:

Thank you for your letter of November 23, in which you have requested the interpretation of the Process Safety Management Standard, 29 CFR 1910.119, specifically, paragraph (o) "Compliance Audits".

In your letter it was indicated that you have a new chemical manufacturing facility and part of your process falls under the guidelines of 1910.119. You also mentioned that you have been "up and running since June of 1994." Your specific inquiry was whether you would need to have a written compliance audit of your Process Safety Management Program "now", or if it could wait until three years from June of 1994.

Further, you indicated that by your understanding and the interpretation of Ms. Joan Flattery of the Dallas Office, you do not have to have a written compliance audit until three years from June 1994.

Your understanding was correct in that a new facility need not have a written compliance audit, initially. Under Paragraph (i) "Pre-startup Safety Review" of the Standard, the employer is required to perform a pre-startup safety review for new facilities and for modified facilities when the modification is significant enough to require a change in the process safety information. Therefore, the written compliance audit is not necessary at this time.

You may, however, need to have a written compliance audit before a three year period. For example, if your facility, for any reason, would need to hire contractors (before a period of three years) to perform specialty work on a covered process, then paragraph (h) of 1910.119 would also become applicable to your facility, and a written compliance audit would have to be conducted.

Finally, in general, a written compliance audit is not necessary for a new facility, initially. The first part of Paragraph (o) states, "Employers shall certify that they have evaluated compliance with the provisions of this section at least every three years to verify that the procedures and practices developed under the standard are adequate and are being followed." Therefore, if you do not have a reason to have a written compliance audit as delineated in the above example, then your written compliance audit would need to be conducted on or before June 1997, and at least every three years after that date.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health.

Sincerely,

John B. Miles, Jr.,
Director Directorate of Compliance Programs