Federal Regulators Target Hazardous Chemical Safety

Food Plant Emergency Response Series

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collage of logosOn August 1, 2013, President Obama signed an Executive Order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security designed to reduce the risks of hazardous chemicals. While many food processing plants already have controls and processes in place to ensure chemical safety, tightened regulations and increased risks have encouraged many plant owners to take a second look at their programs.

National Emphasis Program and Process Safety Management

There is no shortage of regulatory requirements on how plants should store, handle and document hazardous chemicals. OSHA’s National Emphasis Program (NEP), enacted in 2011, initially targeted refineries, but the agency is now taking a harder look at ammonia facilities due to recent incidents. Under NEP, OSHA has stepped up its programmed and unprogrammed inspections of food manufacturing facilities to ensure that Process Safety Management (PSM) is in place throughout all plant areas.

Voluntary Protection Program

PSM is still at the forefront of plant safety with an all-encompassing program on requirements for the management of highly hazardous chemicals. Through its Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), OSHA provides plants an opportunity to take their chemical safety to the next level of PSM. Plants voluntarily open themselves up to OSHA for full, more detailed evaluations. VPP-certified plants are exempt from OSHA programmed inspections while they maintain their VPP status. OSHA inspectors are highly trained and will want to see records, analyze data, conduct interviews, and look closely at all systems.

Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standard

Homeland Security’s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standard (CFAS), enacted in 2007, had many plant owners taking a second look at securing their facilities, particularly where hazardous chemicals are stored. Again, plants with stringent PSM standards should be in compliance with CFAS.

 

If you’d like to learn more about regulatory updates and requirements, call us at 800-488-2900.

 

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