- Standard Number:
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.
March 16, 2005
Dr. Niomi Krzystowczyk
Corporate Risk Manager
451 Florida Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Dear Dr. Krzystowczyk:
Thank you for your October 11, 2004 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP). Our response is based on information you provided in your letter to me. You have issues regarding OSHA's Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals; Explosives and Blasting Agents Standard (PSM), 29 CFR 1910.119. Please be aware that this response may not beapplicable to any question or situation not delineated within your original correspondence. Your specific issue is related to the application of OSHA's requirements for the control of personnel entering a facility.
Scenario (paraphrased): At many PSM-covered facilities within our corporation, groups of maintenance personnel are singularly assigned to a particular PSM-covered processing area. These maintenance personnel are regular wageroll personnel and are responsible for the actual maintenance work in PSM-covered processes. These wageroll personnel are trained in the specific hazards of the process and participate in the daily safety meetings in the covered process areas with their operation counterparts.
The maintenance supervision of these maintenance wageroll personnel participates directly in the management of the area. The maintenance supervision are involved in the day-to-day scheduling of maintenance, safety meetings, training, and decision making for the maintenance and general operation of the PSM-covered process area. Unlike general wageroll maintenance personnel, they are not directly involved in the actual maintenance work in the area. General wageroll maintenance personnel must either sign into an area using a logbook system or be covered under a work permitting system.
Question 1: If a maintenance employee is stationed in an assigned work area, is aware of the planned work for that area, and has been trained in the chemical hazards of that area, are there any additional requirements for that employee to enter a facility to perform a task that does not affect the process such as preplanning future work?
Response 1: Regardless of whether an employee enters a facility to perform tasks which may or may not affect a release from a PSM-covered process, 1910.119(f)(4)1 requires the employer to develop and implement safe work practices to control the entrance into a facility by maintenance, contractor, laboratory, or other support personnel. Reasons for this requirement are stated in OSHA's 1910.119, Preamble [57 FR 6380]:
- To insure that those persons operating high hazard processes are cognizant of any non-routine work (i.e., maintenance, construction, sampling or other activity) occurring in the process;
- To insure that those in responsible control of the facility are also in control of such non-routine work so as to insure that the work does not undermine the safe control of the process; and
- To provide information to those workers performing non-routine work regarding the hazards and necessary precautions attendant to that work.
The PSM standard, Appendix C -- Compliance Guidelines and Recommendations for Process Safety Management (Nonmandatory) also provides information2 related to this requirement.
It is important for persons operating a PSM-covered process to be aware of activities occurring in the facility. This is also true of "other activities" of "other support personnel" such as the example you provided in your question of the maintenance employee preplanning future work. Even if this employee's work is to perform tasks that in and of themselves would not directly affect the process, operating personnel need to be cognizant of activities occurring in their facility. The accounting of maintenance, contractor, laboratory, or other support personnel and their activities by people that are directly in control of the process is a hazard control function required by 1910.119(f)(4).
Another, reason why this is important is that these "other support personnel" who may be conducting "other activities" must be accounted for in the event that a major incident occurs at the facility. This accountability will help assure that emergency responders will not attempt risky, unwarranted rescue operations in the midst of an on-going uncontrolled incident. The safe work practice required by 1910.119(f)(4) to control the entrance of employees to facilities could be used to supplement OSHA's requirement for Emergency Planning and Response, 1910.119(n). Employers are required to develop and implement emergency action/response plans or provisions through the pertinent requirements of either 1910.38(a) and/or 1910.120(a), (p) and (q), to account for all employees after evacuation.
In your example, you specify employees that would not affect the process such as those planning future work. OSHA considers that these employees are "other support personnel" which are required to be covered by the employer's safe work practices for the control over the entrance to facilities as mandated in 1910.119(f)(4).
In your scenario, it appears the employer's safe work practices for the control over the entry to facilities require general wageroll maintenance personnel to either sign into an area using a logbook system or to be covered under a work permitting system. Assuming this safe work practice is adequate for wageroll maintenance personnel, OSHA expects the employer to implement the safe work practice as developed. OSHA would enforce the provisions of the employer's safe work practice as developed and implemented. Additionally, OSHA requires the employer's entrance procedure cover all of the standard's listed personnel - maintenance, contractor, laboratory, or other support personnel. Note: 1910.119(f) (4) applies to both employees and contract employees. Therefore, the employer is also required3 to develop and implement procedures to control the entrance, presence and exit of contract employers and contract employees in covered process areas.
Question 2: If OSHA believes additional controls are warranted, could such controls for the aforementioned employee be a requirement for undocumented verbal communication with those in direct control of the process?
Response 2: Again, OSHA expects the employer to develop and implement safe work practices to control the entrance into facilities for maintenance, contractor, laboratory, or other support personnel. Given the performance-oriented nature of this standard, the means in which the employer meets this requirement are quite broad. If for example, an employer's safe work practice for the entrance of maintenance personnel into a PSM-covered area is: 1) adequate; 2) requires that these employees verbally notify the lead operator of their intent to enter and the reason for entry; and 3) sign an entrance log located in the control room prior to entering a PSM-covered area; then this is the safe work practice that OSHA requires the employer to implement.
Therefore, if the employer's safe work practices for entrance into PSM-covered facilities are adequately developed; communicated to employees and these employees have been trained on these safe work practices; and the safe work practices have been implemented, OSHA would consider the employer in-compliance with this requirement.
Question 3: Would the maintenance supervision personnel be subject to the same control of entrance procedures as general maintenance, contract and laboratory personnel?
Response 3: Similar to Response 1 (above), per 1910.119(f)(4), OSHA considers maintenance supervision personnel to be "other support personnel" which are required to be covered by the employer's safe work practices for the control over the entrance to facilities. This standard does not require that the same safe work practice apply to all the employees listed. In other words, the employer may chose to develop and implement a safe work practice for the entrance to facilities for contract employees that may be different than the entrance safe work practice for maintenance supervisors. However, due to the complexity of managing multiple procedures for various employee groups performing the same task, as well as other potential safety impacts, OSHA recommends in this case that employers use one safe work practice to control the entrance to facilities for those employees listed in 1910.119(f)(4).
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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 beaffected 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 www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs
1 1910.119(f)(4) The employer shall develop and implement safe work practices to provide for the control of hazards during operations such as lockout/tagout; confined space entry; opening process equipment or piping; and control over entrance into a facility by maintenance, contractor, laboratory, or other support personnel. These safe work practices shall apply to employees and contractor employees. [ back to text ]
2 From PSM Appendix C -- Compliance Guidelines and Recommendations for Process Safety Management (Nonmandatory) - "...5. Operating Procedures and Practices...Communication between operating personnel and workers performing work within the process area, such as nonroutine tasks, also must be maintained. The hazards of the tasks are to be conveyed to operating personnel in accordance with established procedures and to those performing the actual tasks...7. Contractors...Contract employees must perform their work safely. Considering that contractors often perform very specialized and potentially hazardous tasks such as confined space entry activities and nonroutine repair activities it is quite important that their activities be controlled while they are working on or near a covered process. A permit system or work authorization system for these activities would also be helpful to all affected employers. The use of a work authorization system keeps an employer informed of contract employee activities, and as a benefit the employer will have better coordination and more management control over the work being performed in the process area. A well run and well maintained process where employee safety is fully recognized will benefit all of those who work in the facility whether they be contract employees or employees of the owner". [ back to text ]
3 1910.119(h)(2)(iv) - The employer shall develop and implement safe work practices consistent with paragraph (f)(4) of this section, to control the entrance, presence and exit of contract employers and contract employees in covered process areas. [ back to text ]