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Decision on deadly oil refinery blast seen growing chemical process standard



A recent review of occupational safety and health audits associated with alleged security breaches arising from a fatal oil refinery explosion in 2012 may have wider implications for companies dealing with highly hazardous chemicals, which is likely to extend the scope of the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration to legal experts. .

"It's a very big thing," said Micah Smith, Washington-based Conn Maciel Carey LLP partner.

Customers in oil and gas and manufacturing can be affected by what many believe that OSHA's expansion of What is included in the process of handling hazardous chemicals, he said.

"All plants that have high hazardous chemicals must take this into account," says Amy Wachs, St. Louis-based partner with Husch Blackwell LLP.

The cause of concern is the Commission's March 28 confirmation of 1

2 quotes and a fine of $ 58,000 against an oil refinery operator Wynnewood, Oklahoma, etc. by Wynnewood Refining Co. LLC, after two workers were killed in an explosion, was the result of workers wrongly starting a boiler, as detailed in more than 100 pages of documents in Minister of Labor of Wynnewood Refining Co. LLC .

Specifically, the OSHA quoted the refinery for 12 violations of various provisions of OSHA's Process Safety Management Standard, which the Review Commission confirmed despite the argument that OSHA's 23-year hazardous chemical standard would never include processes that do not cope with such chemicals – for example the steam cooker in question, according to experts weighing in.

"The process's security management standard is an extremely detailed way of operating a manufacturing plant and it has a lot of details about how a plant must work and the various processes that need to be in place to ensure that the plant does not have accidents … and to minimize the risk of accidents, "Wachs said. "The question is now, what is the limit of that process?"

Mr. Smith described a refining operation as a place where multiple processes are broken into "bits", each requiring their own PSM plan to conform to OSHA requirements.

Prior to Wynnewood was generally understood that tools not related to the manufacturing process were not included in the requirements of the PSM of Smith.

PSM connection comes from interconnection and co-location, he said, adding that Wynnewood the decision puts out the boiler – which he and others consider not to be part of the refinery operation that handles high-sensitivity chemicals – in the "process" at both colocation and interconnection issues, creating a complicated situation for companies that can find

"It's tools, it's not very dangerous," says Smith. He announced feelings from other legal experts.

"A source does not contain very dangerous chemicals," says Wachs.

But OSHA and the audit commission decided that the boiler is close to other processes and is linked according to documents.

More worrying about companies like refineries is that the decision put Wynnewood out of conformity without the refinery, even though it is known that OSHA would extend PSM to tools not related to the chemicals used in other processes, according to Shannon Broome, who is the director of the San Francisco office for Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. "This creates a gotcha situation without notifying in a way to let businesses know what is expected of them," she said.

According to Wachs, the Court now raises a question for manufacturers dealing with chemicals, "What are the limits of the process and what other aspects of this plant must adhere to the standard?"

The answer is unclear, according to Ms. Broome.

"This expands the process definition so that one can argue that everything is interconnected, but the PSM rules were written with integrated facilities in mind and there was a reason why call languages ​​were used," said Mrs. Broome. and this view seems to overlook it. "

                    


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