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.

March 31, 2009
SUBJECT: Management of Organizational Change

This memorandum addresses the application of 29 CFR 1910.119 (l), Process Safety Management (PSM) - Management of Change (MOC), to covered processes potentially impacted by changes in facility organization, staffing, and policies (Organizational Changes). It does not add to or modify the types of changes subject to MOC; rather, it is intended to increase CSHO awareness of potential sources of changes covered under the PSM standard. The MOC provisions of the PSM standard apply only to changes, including organizational changes, that impact safety in PSM covered processes.

The PSM standard requires employers to develop and implement written MOC procedures to address the safety and health impacts of contemplated changes, including organizational changes, as they relate to process chemicals, technology, equipment, procedures and facilities (29 CFR 1910.119(l)(1)). Some organizational changes, such as changes resulting from mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations, staffing changes, or budget revisions, may affect PSM at the plant level and would therefore trigger a PSM MOC procedure. Some examples of these include:

  • personnel changes, including changes in staffing levels, staff experience, or contracting out that directly impact PSM covered processes; and
  • policy changes such as budget cutting that impact PSM covered processes.

The PSM standard's MOC provisions act as a control point when organizational changes result in or could be reasonably expected to result in, changes that can affect covered processes. In other words, if organizational changes necessitate changes to process chemicals, technology, equipment, procedures, or facilities, an MOC procedure would be required to ensure that resulting changes are managed and implemented in a manner that assures continued safe operations. However, management changes that do not impact PSM covered processes are not affected by the MOC provisions of the PSM standard.

For example, when the number of employees operating a process is to be reduced due to an organizational change, operators may not be able to continue implementation of existing operating procedures. An MOC procedure must be implemented to manage the change, possibly by modifying existing operating procedures to reflect the new, reduced staffing level, and to ensure that operations remain safe under normal production and emergency upset conditions.

Budgetary changes can have a similar effect. For example, a significant cut in a maintenance department's budget could require an employer to alter its mechanical integrity procedures concerning the timeliness or frequency of tests, inspections, repairs, or replacements of PSM-covered equipment. Because this represents a change to mechanical integrity procedures, an MOC procedure must be established and implemented to ensure the ongoing integrity of the process.

Other organizational changes may not impact any of the five elements listed in 29 CFR 1910.119 (l)(1) and therefore would not trigger PSM MOC. Organizational changes that have no relationship to plant-level PSM processes, as in the case of changes to corporate or administrative personnel whose duties do not relate to operations or maintenance functions, do not trigger PSM MOC procedures.

The attached flow chart illustrates the decision making process for determining if an MOC is required for an organizational, personnel, or policy change.

When enforcing the PSM Standard, CSHOs should consider issuing a citation for a violation of 29 CFR 1910.119(l) whenever an employer has made a change, or is in the process of making a change, to process chemicals, technology, equipment, procedures and facilities, without having established or implemented written procedures to manage the change. As discussed above, this applies to such changes even when they result from organizational, personnel, or policy changes. A citation should also be considered if a Management of Change review has been performed in response to an identified hazard, but necessary safety actions have not been performed in a timely manner to control the hazard.

It is also important that the written MOC procedures address all of the considerations listed in 1910.119(l)(2), that the employees involved in the process are trained in accord with 1910.119(l)(3), and that related process safety information and operating procedures are updated as appropriate in accord with 1910.119(l)(4) and (l)(5).

If you have any questions call the Office of General Industry Enforcement at 202-693-1850.

Organizational Change flowchart