By Brent I. Clark and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: New OSHA guidance documents may provide employers in these industries with another tool for carefully measuring compliance with the PSM standards.

OSHA recently released guidance documents on Process Safety Management for Explosives and Pyrotechnics Manufacturing (PSM Explosive Pyrotechnics Guidance) (OSHA 3912-03 2017), and the Process Safety Management for Storage Facilities (PSM Storage Guidance) (OSHA 3909-03 2017).

The PSM Explosive Pyrotechnics Guidance focuses on aspects of the standard particularly relevant to explosives and pyrotechnic manufacturers, found in OSHA’s standard on Explosives and Blasting Agents, 29 CFR 1910.109.  The PSM Storage Guidance focuses on aspects of the PSM standard particularly relevant to storage facilities generally.

OSHA notes that while all elements of the PSM standard apply to all PSM-covered pyrotechnics manufacturing or storage facilities, the following elements are most relevant to hazards associated with these facilities:

  • Employee Participation
  • Process Safety Information (PSI)
  • Process Hazard Analysis (PHA)
  • Operating Procedures
  • Training
  • Mechanical Integrity (MI)
  • Emergency Planning and Response

OSHA emphasizes that as to explosives, these PSM elements complement the “cardinal principle for explosive safety: expose the minimum number of people to the smallest quantity of explosives for the shortest period consistent with the operation being conducted.”

These Guidance documents provide employers with an outline to compliance with the applicable PSM standards that provide another review tool to achieve compliance.  Employers in these industries are encouraged to review these Guidance documents carefully to measure compliance with the standard, as you may be sure that OSHA’s inspector’s, if or when they visit, will do so.

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.

By Brent I. Clark, James L. Curtis, and Craig B. Simonsen

iStock_000011654038_LargeThe Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), has posted its Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 enforcement Facts and Figures.

During FY 2014 the Bureau conducted 4,006 explosives compliance inspections. Of those, ninety percent were either “no violations” (69.4%) or “other” (19.6). “Other” was defined as “out of business, etc.”

Of the remaining explosives compliance inspections, there were reports of violation in just 7.2%, a total of 287 cases. Warning letters issued in 2.7% of the inspections, representing 109 cases. Only in 0.8% of the inspections, just 34 cases, were there warning conferences held. Ten cases involved revocation of explosive licenses being sought, in only 0.2% of the inspections.

These statistics show that while the industry overall is doing pretty well in explosives compliance inspections, there remain some issues that employers need to stay on top of. Make the effort to stay in compliance and avoid an ATF enforcement action.

By Brent I. Clark, James L. Curtis, and Craig B. Simonsen

iStock_000011654038_LargeThe Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), in its recent ATF EXPLOSIVES Industry Newsletter, informed the industry of a new voluntary “process to better track industry-owned explosives storage magazines.”

The Bureau noted that during natural disasters, local emergencies, and civil unrest, the ATF assists emergency responders in securing nearby explosives. In these situations, the ATF provides information on the location of explosives magazines within an affected area. According to the ATF, with the current processes, “it is difficult to identify industry-owned magazines across the country in a timely manner for emergency notifications.”

The ATF indicates that a significant obstacle to emergency responder notification is the lack of a unique identifier for each industry magazine. Although the ATF maintains GPS coordinates for magazines, the coordinates “can’t be used as unique identifiers since readings can vary slightly from one inspection to another, and the coordinates sometimes refer to groups of magazines.”

The ATF has announced that after consulting with explosives industry members and associations, it will, with the “voluntary participation of industry members,” have Industry Operations Investigators affix “small labels with unique numbers to interior magazine walls during routine inspections.” The ATF will also replace damaged, missing, or destroyed labels during subsequent inspections. The ATF states that this program will not place any burden or responsibility upon industry members or change their internal magazine designations.

The labels, as shown in the sample below, “will not contain other information or electronically track the magazines.”

ATF Label

While the new labeling program is voluntary, the ATF is encouraging licensees and permittees to participate to ensure the success of the program.