A Guide to the Legal Framework of the PSM Standard for Engineers

Compliance with the Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard is challenging for even the most sophisticated operators because of the broad scope and highly technical nature of the 14 PSM elements. This paper provides guidance on how to comply with the three elements most frequently cited by OSHA — process safety information (PSI), process hazards analysis (PHA), and mechanical integrity (MI) — and the consequences of a failure to do so.

The Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard is a U.S. regulation that was issued by the Secretary of Labor in 1992 following a series of chemical disasters in the 1980s and early 1990s, including the 1984 Bhopal India gas leak disaster, which resulted in more than 2,000 fatalities, and deadly chemical explosions in the U.S. facilities of Philips 66, ARCO and BASF.

Its primary purpose of the PSM standard is to prevent, or minimize the consequences of the release of highly hazardous chemicals into locations that could expose people to serious bodily injury and death. To achieve its purpose, the Standard requires regulated facilities to implement a PSM program, which is a systematic approach to proactively review chemical processes and identify, evaluate, and prevent or mitigate chemical releases. PSM programs must contain 14 components (referred to as elements).

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