Auditing Relief Systems Design Basis Best Practices

Ever since OSHA implemented their National Emphasis Program in 2007, facility’s pressure relief systems design basis have come under increasing scrutiny. Recognizing that they may not be fully compliant, many companies are conducting audits of their relief systems design basis to determine their current state, identify gaps, and establish a path forward for compliance. ioMosaic Corporation is often called upon to conduct these audits, and in doing so, has developed a successful methodology to do this efficiently and effectively. This paper outlines how companies can conduct audits of their relief systems in a successful way.

The explosion at BP’s Texas City Refinery on March 23, 2005 triggered an industry-wide increase in focus on pressure relief systems design basis. Relevant codes and standards, such as API Standard 520 [1], [2] and 521 [3] were updated and expanded. At the same time, OSHA implemented CPL-03-00-004 (Petroleum Refinery Process Safety Management National Emphasis Program) in 2007, followed by CPL-03-00-014 (PSM Covered Chemical Facilities National Emphasis Program) in 2011. Both of these programs involved onsite auditing activities, with pressure relief systems being one area of particular focus. Since then, there is still a continued awareness of the benefit and need to audit pressure relief systems.

Additionally, Section O of the OSHA PSM Standard requires that compliance audits be conducted every three years. Since a facility's relief systems design and design basis is part of its Process Safety Information (PSI), this information should be audited every three years, and revalidated every five years.

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