Is a condenser change a Replacement in Kind?

The Question:

Imagine a project where you are going to replace an existing condenser with a newer model. Does this “change” trigger the MOC element or does it fall into the Replacement in Kind exemption to the MOC requirement?

This question comes up from a customer several times a year.

 

The Short answer:

The answer – if you are short on time – is: An equipment change rarely qualifies as a Replacement in Kind

 

The LONG answer:

First, let’s look at the relevant text of the PSM MOC requirement:

1910.119(l)(1) – The employer shall establish and implement written procedures to manage changes (except for “replacements in kind”) to process chemicals, technology, equipment, and procedures; and, changes to facilities that affect a covered process. (The RMP text is essentially the same, so we’re just going to focus on the PSM text)

This text is about the scope of the MOC requirement; or to put it another way: What triggers the requirement?

This proposed condenser change is obviously a change to equipment that has the potential to affect a covered process so it could be covered. In theory, if the new condenser does not affect a covered process we could classify it as a Replacement in Kind. Unfortunately, we don’t actually know if the new condenser will affect the process until we investigate the change. Some questions we’ll need to ask include (but are not limited to):

1) Are there piping / valving changes?

2) Is the overpressure protection the same?

3) Does the new equipment require any changes to the inventory calculation, relief calculation, equipment schedule, etc?

4) Are there any changes to the electrical requirements and controls?

5) Does the new equipment require any changes to existing SOP(s) and MIP(s)?

6) Does the new equipment require any changes to the existing MI schedule?

7) Does the new equipment require any changes to the existing Operator Training?

8) Does the new equipment require any change to the existing Process Hazard Analysis to ensure it properly identifies, evaluates and controls the hazards of the new equipment?

9) Are there any other ways that this new equipment could affect safety and health?

That’s a lot of questions to ask and it’s really just the beginning of them. To even consider this new equipment a Replacement in Kind, we’d have to ask all these questions (and more) and answer them with “No, there are no changes required”.

You know a great way to ensure that you ask these types of questions and properly document your answers? THE MOC ELEMENT. It is literally a written program to Manage Changes.

While it’s not very likely that you will go through the entire MOC procedure and find there are no required changes to the PSM program, if you did so, then you could properly quantify the replacement as a Replacement in Kind and you would have your written questions and answers to defend that judgement.

 

Where does the confusion come from?

Why do so many people think that these types of equipment changes are not covered by the MOC requirement? Often it’s as simple as getting bad advice from consultants or refrigeration “schools.” I think part of the confusion on the issue stems from legacy industry guidance. For the vast majority of Ammonia PSM practitioners, the IIAR is our go-to guidance on design, construction, startup, decommissioning, maintenance, etc., so it’s natural to refer to them for PSM guidance.

Here’s a section from the IIAR’s  1994  Guide to the Implementation of Process Safety Management for Ammonia Refrigeration:

 

Here’s the same section from the IIAR’s 2012 updated Process Safety Management and Risk Management Program Guidelines:

 

Some quick thoughts on that guidance:

1) The term “Like for like” does not exist in the text of the PSM or RMP rule(s) and only leads to more confusion.

2) The first bullet of the 1994 guidance muddles the issue with assumptions. In the legal realm this is referred to as “Assuming facts not in evidence” meaning that the argument is relying on data that hasn’t been provided. We don’t know if the “piping, specifications, connections, instrumentation, and controls” are identical until we actually perform the MOC or something A LOT like it.

3) The second bullet of the 1994 guidance and the revised 2012 guidance are clearer, but they suffer from the same problem with assumptions.

Note: The IIAR is currently updating the Process Safety Management and Risk Management Program Guidelines and I expect the new version to significantly alter this guidance.

 

Why does this matter?

Misclassifying a covered change as a Replacement in Kind often allows the facility to circumvent the Management of Change procedure.

Let me offer a real-world example: During a client visit it was discovered that they were having a replacement condenser installed and that they were classifying it as a Replacement in Kind. They explained that they were doing this because they treated a previous condenser replacement as a Replacement in Kind due to advice from a class one of their employees had attended. We started asking some questions and in under an hour found the following:

1) The relief valves had been removed from both condensers and replaced with hand valves and pipe stubs. (Presumably to allow manual purging)

2) The new stubs did not have caps installed and were therefore open to the atmosphere.

3) The P&IDs no longer reflected the as-built condition of the facility for either of the condensers.

4) The SOPs still referred to the OLD models, not the current ones.

5) The SOPs still referenced the removed relief valves.

6) The PHA section covering condensers still listed relief valves as a safeguard and therefore did not properly identify, evaluate and control the hazards of the condensers.

ALL the above issues would have been avoided with a properly conducted Management of Change procedure.

Original Post: RCE-Chill

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IIAR 6 Public Review #3

Make your opinion known BEFORE the changes go final!

IIAR 6 continues its development. This document will replace IIAR Bulletin 110 (among others) and will be very important. The current review only lists changes since Public Review #2.

To: IIAR Members
Re: Third (3rd) Public Review of Standard BSR/IIAR 6-201x, Standard for Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems.
A third (3rd) public review of draft standard BSR/IIAR 6-201x, Standard for Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems is now open. The International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) invites you to make comments on the draft standard. Substantive changes resulting from this public review will also be provided for comment in a future public review if necessary.BSR/IIAR 6-201x, specifies the minimum requirements for inspection, testing, and maintenance applicable to stationary closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. It presupposes that the persons who use the document have a working knowledge of the functionality of ammonia refrigeration system(s) and basic ammonia refrigeration practices and principles. This standard is intended for those who inspect, test, and maintain stationary closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. This standard shall apply only to stationary closed-circuit refrigeration systems utilizing ammonia as the refrigerant. It supplements existing general refrigeration standards issued by IIAR and other organizations such as ASHRAE, ASME, and ANSI. It is not intended to supplant existing safety codes (e.g., model mechanical or fire codes).

IIAR has designated the draft standard as BSR/IIAR 6-201x. Upon approval by the ANSI Board of Standards Review, the standard will receive a different name that reflects this approval date.

We invite you to participate in the third (3rd) public review of BSR/IIAR 6-201x. IIAR will use the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) procedures to develop evidence of consensus among affected parties. ANSI’s role in the revision process is to establish and enforce standards of openness, balance, due process and harmonization with other American and International Standards. IIAR is the ANSI-accredited standards developer for BSR/IIAR 6-201x and is responsible for the technical content of the standard.

This site includes links to the following attachments:

The 45-day public review period will be from July 6th, 2018 through August 20th, 2018. Comments are due no later than 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) on August 20th, 2018.

Thank you for your interest in the public review of BSR/IIAR 6-201x, Standard for Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems.

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Worksite Posters

Head on over to RCE-Chill to see our latest worksite posters.

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Yet another update on the RMP Updates!

Today, EPA’s Administrator, E. Scott Pruitt, signed a new proposed rule, further changing the Obama-era EPA’s proposed changes and the EPA is submitting that for publication in the Federal Register (FR).

Basically, it outlines two proposals for the Obama-era EPA’s proposed changes:

  • Repeal nearly ALL of the Obama-era EPA’s proposed changes essentially returning the RMP rule back to its 2004 condition.
  • Repeal about 90% of the Obama-era EPA’s proposed changes and alter/replace the remainder with some more flexible options for compliance.

While there is a lot of information to digest, the basic arguments for the changes the Trump-era EPA is making are:

  • The EPA wants to maintain its historic consistency with OSHA’s PSM standard as mandated by the Clean Air Act which established the requirement for the PSM/RMP rules. The EPA believes it may update the rule further if OSHA moves forward with its (currently stalled) update process but that it will do so in a coordinated fashion with OSHA to minimize divergence.
  • Address Security Concerns raised by many commenters.
  • Address BATF finding on West Fertilizer incident.
  • Reduce unnecessary regulations and regulatory costs in response to three Executive Orders that require Agencies to place greater emphasis on reducing regulatory costs and burdens.
  • Revise compliance dates to provide necessary time for program changes.

As always, stay tuned for further information. We’re still years away from a change at this rate!

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Learning from Failure

“Failure is only opportunity to begin again. Only this time, more wisely.” –Henry Ford

We often push PSM practitioners to perform Incident Investigations for fairly minor events in the hopes that the lessons learned from those minor incidents will stop the larger incidents from happening. This is, in part, due to CCPS (Center for Chemical Process Safety) guidance that, for every single catastrophic accident, there are typically nearly 9,900 minor issues / process upsets and 99 near misses.

So, if you only investigate the catastrophic incidents, then you are only acting on 0.010% of the opportunities available to you to improve your control over the process.

OSHA has promoted this idea as far back as a decade ago…

OSHA and industry have found that when major incidents have occurred, most of these incidents have included precursor incidents. Additionally, OSHA and industry (See CCPS [Ref. 41], Section 5, “Reporting and Investigating Near Misses” have concluded based on past investigations, that if employers had properly responded to precursor incidents, later major incidents might not have occurred. Consequently, anytime an employer has an “opportunity” to investigate a near-miss/precursor incident (i.e., an incident that could reasonably have resulted in a catastrophic release) it is important that the required investigation is conducted and that the findings and recommendations are resolved, communicated, and integrated into other PSM elements/systems so a later major incident at the facility is prevented. …It is RAGAGEP to investigate incidents involving system upsets or abnormal operations which result in operating parameters which exceed operating limits or when layers of protection have been activated such as relief valves. (An example RAGAGEP for investigating incidents, including near-miss incidents is CCPS [Guidelines for Investigating Chemical Process Incidents, 2nd Ed.], this document presents some common examples of near-miss incidents). (OSHA, Refinery PSM NEP, 2007)

Going a step further, it’s often true that you can learn something about managing complex operations from businesses in entirely different fields. One field that I like to follow – in part because it’s endlessly re-inventing itself – is information technology.

Google recently published an article on their Post-Mortem culture, with a farcical worked-example that includes the movie “Back to the Future” and a newly discovered sonnet by Shakespeare. The practice of learning from their failures is actually part of their Sight Reliability Engineer handbook and you can read the entire chapter if it appeals to you.

“Failures are an inevitable part of innovation and can provide great data to make products, services, and organizations better. Google uses ‘postmortems’ to capture and share the lessons of failure…

… For us, it’s not about pointing fingers at any given person or team, but about using what we’ve learned to build resilience and prepare for future issues that may arise along the way. By discussing our failures in public and working together to investigate their root causes, everyone gets the opportunity to learn from each incident and to be involved with any next steps. Documentation of this process provides our team and future teams with a lasting resource that they can turn to whenever necessary.

And while our team has used postmortems primarily to understand engineering problems, organizations everywhere — tech and non-tech — can benefit from postmortems as a critical analysis tool after any event, crisis, or launch. We believe a postmortem’s influence extends beyond that of any document and singular team, and into the organization’s culture itself.”

Google’s Pre-Mortem Tool – Anticipating what can go wrong.

Google’s Post-Mortem Tool – Dealing with what actually went wrong.

Posted in Culture, General Information, Good Engineering Practices, Incidents, OSHA, System Optimization | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What you need to know about Repeat Citations

First, what is a Repeat Citation? Here’s what OSHA has to say about it in their Field Operations Manual or FOM:

An employer may be cited for a repeated violation if that employer has been cited previously for the same or a substantially similar condition or hazard and the citation has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC). A citation may become a final order by operation of law when an employer does not contest the citation, or pursuant to court decision or settlement. The underlying citation which the repeated violation will be based on must have become a final order before the occurrence or observation of the second substantially similar violation. (OSHA FOM Chapter 4, Section VII(A)(1). Pg. 4-21&4-22)

A Repeat violation is essentially exposing your employees to the same (or substantially similar) conditions or hazards after your company has previously been cited for the same (or substantially similar) conditions or hazards. Note that this is about your company and not your facility. If you are working for Billy Bob’s Cold Storage and they have four facilities, you may well be subject to a Repeat citation based on a citation issued at one of the other facilities. For Federal OSHA, the citation must have been made by Federal OSHA, not a state plan:

Federal Repeat Citations cannot be based on prior citations from State Plans (OSHA FOM Chapter 4, Section VII(A)(2). Pg. 4-22)

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OSHA needs to establish three things to establish a Repeat violation:

  • That the underlying condition or hazard is the same or substantially similar to one used as the basis for a previous citation.
  • That the previous citation has been finalized – it can not be used to establish a Repeat violation if it is still being contested.
  • That you actually came into compliance after the original citation.

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Condition Substantially Similar:

They are issued based on similar conditions or hazards, not based on identical OSHA standard (OSHA FOM Chapter 4, Section VII(B) & VII(B) Pg. 4-22)

They CAN be issued for General Duty Citations (OSHA FOM Chapter 4, Section III(E). Pg. 4-18)

The key to understanding this is that it is NOT based on the particular OSHA Standard or Rule, it is based on the conditions / hazards. This is particularly important under PSM because a single condition or hazard may be cited under several different portions of the PSM Standard or Rule. As an example, let’s say that you were previously cited under PSM 29CFR1910.119(l)(5) for lacking an SOP for a new piece of equipment that was installed. The condition or hazard is not providing an SOP for a piece of equipment that operators are expected to operate. However, it’s important to note that the same condition or hazard could have been cited under 29CFR1910.119(e)(1), 29CFR1910.119(e)(3)(i), 29CFR1910.119(f), 29CFR1910.119(f)(2), 29CFR1910.119(f)(3), 29CFR1910.119(g)(1)(i), 29CFR1910.119(l)(2)(iii), 29CFR1910.119(i)(2)(ii), etc. Remember, it’s about the condition or hazard, not the individual OSHA rule.

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Previous Citation is Final:

… the citation has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (hereafter,OS&H Review Commission). A citation may become a final order by operation of law when an employer does not contest the citation, or pursuant to court decision or settlement. The underlying citation which the repeated violation will be based on must have become a final order before the occurrence or observation of the second substantially similar violation. (OSHA FOM Chapter 4, Section VII(A)(1). Pg. 4-21&4-22)

While that seems like a minor legalistic issue, it’s one of extreme importance if you have been cited for an OSHA violation. Let’s imagine a situation where your facility is cited for a training issue. While you certainly want to address that issue as soon as possible, it may be wise to delay the settlement of the OSHA violation until you can address the same issue in your sister facilities as well. Settling quickly with OSHA may expose those sister facilities to Repeat violations.

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You actually came into compliance after the first citation:

They are different from “Failure to Abate” citations. If an employer never came into compliance after an initial OSHA’s initial inspection / citation, that is a “Failure to Abate.” If the violation was corrected, and then later reoccurs, that is a Repeated violation. (OSHA FOM Chapter 4, Section VII(F) Pg. 4-23)

This is only really a matter of the associated fine. If the citation is Repeat, the fine is capped at about $129k. If the citation is actually a Failure to Abate, the fine is capped at $12.9k a day for up to 30 days or $387k.

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Why are we seeing more Repeat citations?

Inspectors are being told to specifically look for these issues:

During inspections, CSHO’s must pay particular attention to identifying instances of Repeated violations from season to season or past occupancy. (OSHA FOM Chapter 12, Section II(F)(3) Pg. 12-3)

During the course of the ChemNEP inspection, the CSHO shall review abatement for all PSM citations issued within the previous six years to determine whether the hazard still exists. (OSHA CPL 03-00-021, Section XI(E)(10) Pg. 31)

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What are the ramifications of a Repeat citation?

The fines can be up to $129,336 for each Repeated citation. (OSHA Act of 1970, Section 17) (OSHA Website on Penalties)

A single Repeat citation involving a fatality can place you in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). Two or more Repeat citations can place you in the SVEP if you have a “High Emphasis Hazard” as outlined in CPL 02-00-149 (which includes PSM facilities) (OSHA FOM Chapter 11, Section II(M)(2)(a) Pg. 11-13)

SVEP cases often spread to the entire region or even the entire country if the facility has sister facilities in other areas. OSHA may choose to inspect those other facilities or issue an abatement demand for ALL the sister facilities based on conditions found at SOME of them. Furthermore, OSHA “shall consider going beyond the subject of the citations to include additional safety and health program enhancements,” even for items that were not cited during the inspection. (CPL 02-00-152)

No reduction shall be given for repeated violations. If a repeated violation is found, no reduction for good faith can be applied to ANY of the violations found during the same inspection. (OSHA FOM Chapter 6, Section III(B)(3)(a) Pg. 6-7)

Each repeated violation is evaluated as serious or other-than-serious, based on current workplace conditions, and not on hazards found in the prior case. (OSHA FOM Chapter 6, Section V(A)(1) Pg. 6-11)

Repeat violations can be the basis of 11B enforcement action where the US Court of Appeals is asked to enforce the order. (OSHA FOM Chapter 15, Section XIV(B)(3) Pg. 15-14)

Obviously, there’s a lot of dollar signs involved, but that’s just the start of the possibilities. The real damage can come from becoming enrolled in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program or SVEP.  The SVEP program is a nightmare that you want to avoid. I really can’t summarize it better than Eric Cohn did at OSHA Defense Report.

An employer is entered into SVEP at the outset of an OSHA case, prior to an opportunity to defend itself and prove wrong OSHA’s alleged violations. Notwithstanding this end run around Constitutional Due Process, once in the program, SVEP employers are immediately subject to:

  • Public shaming by OSHA through both an inflammatory, embarrassing, and one-sided press release detailing the alleged violations and by posting the employer’s name on a Severe Violator list on OSHA’s public website;Severe Violator Image
  • Mandatory follow-up inspections at that cited facility and up to ten sister facilities within the organization; and
  • More expansive settlement terms than ever before, including corporate-wide requirements.

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How far back can OSHA look for a previous citation to use as the basis for a Repeat?

Short answer – As long as they want. Long answer:

Although there are no statutory limitations on the length of time that a previously issued citation can be used as a basis for a repeated violation, it is OSHA policy that they are only to be issued withing five years of the final order date of the previous citation or within five years of the final abatement date, whichever is later, or five years from the issue of a final order from the OS&H Review Commision or final mandate from the US Court of Appeals. (OSHA FOM Chapter 4, Section VII(E)(1) Pg. 4-23)

  • Recent Court rulings have shown that since there are no statutory limitations on the Look-Back period, OSHA could issue Repeat citations based on citations older than five years. (OSHRC Triumph Construction)

  • Under OSHA Commission precedent, the “time between violations does not bear on whether a violation is repeated.” (OSHRC Hackensack Steel)

This long reach means that you need to know your history – and the history of your sister facilities.

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Sources: OSHA FOM, CPL 02-00-149 (SVEP), CPL 02-00-152, CPL 03-00-021, OSHA Act of 1970 (Judicial Review), OSHA Website on Penalties, OSHRC Triump Construction, OSHRC Hackensack Steel.

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General Duty vs. PSM/RMP: Is there a benefit to dropping below the 10,000lb threshold?

Several times a year I get a phone call or an email from a client that wants to lower the NH3 inventory below the federal 10,000lb threshold so they are no longer subject to the PSM/RMP rules. It’s a conversation I’ve had nearly a hundred times over my career, so I thought it would be worth writing down my thoughts on this subject for posterity. The factors break down into three categories: Logistical, Regulatory and Safety.

Logistical: If you’re close to the 10,000lb threshold, you may be able to reduce the NH3 inventory below the regulatory line of 10,000lbs., but there are some things worth considering:

Is it safe? A system operating below the level it was designed to operate is often called starved. Starved systems can be unsafe due to the increased rates of vapor propelled slugging and low vessel levels causing pumps to cavitate. This isn’t something you want to do without consulting a design engineer.

Can I keep it at this level? If we dropped our system inventory to 9,900lbs., we are going to have to ensure it stays below the 10,000lb threshold or we can end up in a regulatory nightmare. Future charges (to replace losses) will require careful calculation to ensure that we stay on the right side of the threshold. This can be done through a good inventory management program, but it’s something you’re going to want to plan for.

Regulatory: If we drop below the 10,000lb threshold, we can remove ourselves from the federal RMP & DHS registries, but we will still have to meet the OSHA and EPA General Duty requirements for our NH3 refrigeration system.

To quote OSHA:

“Employers can be cited for violating the General Duty Clause if there is a recognized hazard and they do not take reasonable steps to prevent or abate the hazard.”

When we discuss things like “recognized hazard” we are discussing the things that are outlined in appropriate RAGAGEP. What would be RAGAGEP for an NH3 refrigeration system below 10,000lbs? At a minimum, ALL the IIAR standards & bulletins as well as the IIAR ARM (Ammonia Refrigeration Management) program. What does that mean?

  • The system design still has to comply with IIAR 2 Standard for Safe Design of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems
  • The installation still has to comply with IIAR 4 Installation of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems
  • The startup and commissioning still has to comply with IIAR 5 Start-up and Commissioning of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems
  • The process safety information and maintenance program still has to comply with IIAR
    • Bulletin 108 Guidelines for: Water Contamination in Ammonia Refrigeration Systems
    • Bulletin 109 Minimum Safety Criteria for a Safe Ammonia Refrigeration System
    • Bulletin 110 Guidelines for: Start-Up, Inspection and Maintenance of Ammonia Mechanical Refrigerating Systems
    • Bulletin 114 Guidelines for: Identification of Ammonia Refrigeration Piping and System Components
    • Bulletin 116 Guidelines for: Avoiding Component Failure in Industrial Refrigeration Systems Caused by Abnormal Pressure or Shock
    • The upcoming IIAR Standard 6 Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems which will replace all the above bulletins
  • The operating procedures still has to comply with IIAR 7 Developing Operating Procedures for Closed-Circuit Ammonia Mechanical Refrigerating Systems
  • The overall system safety management program will have to comply with the IIAR ARM program which is about 90% of the paperwork burden of a full PSM/RMP program.

If you are looking at that list and thinking “There’s almost no benefit to dropping below the 10,000lbs mark from a regulatory standpoint” you aren’t wrong. There is ONE and it’s fairly minor: Generally speaking, your potential fines for violating OSHA’s or EPA’s General Duty clause are smaller than those for violating PSM/RMP. I say generally, because that’s not always the case. As an example, here’s a consent agreement for a $185,000 fine under the EPA’s General Duty clause.

Let me summarize the regulatory situation of a General Duty NH3 refrigeration facility in a single sentence: A General Duty NH3 refrigeration system is going to have 95% of the regulatory burden of a PSM/RMP facility (and thus have to do the same things as a PSM/RMP facility would) but you won’t have the well-understood PSM/RMP structure to help manage that regulatory burden.

Safety: In theory, any inventory reduction provides some small measure of reduced risk. In practical terms, though, there is usually very little effect. Often, due to the way our systems are designed (and the way the RMP scenarios are calculated) there is no change at all in the calculated area of effect of a release scenario*. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that very small amounts of NH3 can pose a danger to your personnel – it doesn’t matter that you’ve reduced your inventory from 11,000lbs to 9,900lbs when a release of 5lbs can pose mortal danger to a technician.

In my experience though, the real danger of reducing your inventory below the threshold is that facilities that do so almost always give their General Duty compliance a lower priority than they gave to their PSM/RMP compliance. These facilities become less safe because they believe that they are less exposed to OSHA and the EPA.

Conclusion: Yes, lowering your inventory can produce a slight increase in inherent safety and a lower regulatory exposure, but in practice, it usually does very little other than give the facility an excuse to de-prioritize safety and compliance.

I work with many companies with National and International brands. Nearly ALL of these companies treat their General Duty facilities as if they have over the 10,000lb threshold, for the same reason: Brand protection – You never want to be in a position where you are making the argument that you didn’t provide the highest level of safety to your employees and your community because you didn’t have to by law!

* No, Worst-Case and Alternate release scenarios are not required by General Duty plants, but I always calculate and map them so the facility understands the possible ramifications of a release on their community.

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IIAR 7 update now open for Public Review

November 10th, 2017
To: IIAR Members
Re: First (1st) Public Review of Standard BSR/IIAR 7-201x, Developing Operating Procedures for Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems.
A first (1st) public review of draft standard BSR/IIAR 7-201x, Developing Operating Procedures for Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems is now open. The International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) invites you to make comments on the draft standard. Substantive changes resulting from this public review will also be provided for comment in a future public review if necessary.

BSR/IIAR 7-201x, defines the minimum requirements for developing operating procedures applicable to closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. It presupposes that the persons who use the document have a working knowledge of the functionality of an ammonia refrigeration system(s) and basic ammonia refrigeration practices and principles. This standard is intended for those who develop, define, or review operating procedures, or a combination thereof, for closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. This standard shall apply only to stationary closed-circuit refrigeration systems utilizing ammonia as the refrigerant. It supplements existing general refrigeration standards issued by IIAR and other organizations such as ASHRAE, ASME, and ANSI. It is not intended to supplant existing safety codes (e.g., model mechanical or fire codes).

IIAR has designated the draft standard as BSR/IIAR 7-201x. Upon approval by the ANSI Board of Standards Review, the standard will receive a different name that reflects this approval date.

We invite you to participate in the first (1st) public review of BSR/IIAR 7-201x. IIAR will use the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) procedures to develop evidence of consensus among affected parties. ANSI’s role in the revision process is to establish and enforce standards of openness, balance, due process, and harmonization with other American and International Standards. IIAR is the ANSI-accredited standards developer for BSR/IIAR 7-201x, and is responsible for the technical content of the standard.

This site includes links to the following attachments:

The 45-day public review period will be from November 10th, 2017 through December 26th, 2017. Comments are due no later than 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) on December 26th, 2017.

A quick review of the update shows no significant changes are necessary to the current stock templates.

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RAGAGEP Hierarchy in Application – A worked example

RAGAGEP (Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices/Principles) is extremely important to our Process Safety programs as it helps define the boundaries of what is (and isn’t) acceptable in our processes and our management of them. There seems to be some confusion in a significant portion of the industry as to how to practically apply RAGAGEP* so I thought a brief discussion (and worked example) might be useful.

Let’s say that we have multiple possible RAGAGEP’s for a single item – such as relief valve replacement schedule. Those multiple RAGAGEP’s may well have differing requirements so we will need to rank them to understand what we actually need to do. Here’s an example RAGAGEP listing from OSHA:

  1. Codes adopted by the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) such as IMC/UMC
  2. Consensus Standards such as IIAR or ASHRAE
  3. Non-consensus documents such as Pamphlets / Bulletins from industry organizations
  4. Internal Standards such as your corporate policy

What isn’t on that list is manufacturer’s recommendations and there’s a reason why. The things listed above set the RAGAGEP and the manufacturer’s recommendations can modify it.**

There are generally two ways to modify something: make it more or less restrictive.

More: In the event that the manufacturer gives you a recommendation that is more restrictive (conservative) than the RAGAGEP, you must*** accept that more restrictive recommendation.

Less: If the manufacturer gives you a recommendation that is less restrictive than the RAGAGEP, you can accept that less restrictive recommendation, but you will need to document why you believe that the manufacturer’s recommendation is superior to the existing RAGAGEP.

In a recent article on RCE-Chill, we discussed the replacement schedule for a relief valve that relieves back into the system. The codes reference the consensus standards, which in turn reference some non-consensus bulletins. The bulletin in question, IIAR B110 says that these valves are not subject to the 5yr changeout frequency that other relief valves are. Yet, we have an email from Cyrus Shank’s engineering department that still recommends the 5yr changeout schedule.

In this case, we have a disagreement between the non-consensus bulletin and the manufacturer’s recommendation. Put another way, we have a generic recommendation on relief valve changeout versus a manufacturer specific recommendation. Obviously, the manufacturer’s specific recommendation on their valves overrides the generic recommendation about all relief valves. Therefore, as long as we are going to use these specific valves, we need to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation. ***

*It’s important to understand that we’re talking about what RAGAGEP decision is the most defensible during an inspection / audit.

** In 1910.119(j)(4)(iii) manufacturer’s recommendations are explicitly called out in conjunction with good engineering practices to set inspection/testing frequency, but the point still holds true.

*** It’s theoretically possible that you can make the engineering case that you know more about the manufacturer’s equipment as it operates in your process than they do, so you can override their recommendation. One method that’s routinely used is to choose an alternative way to achieve the same goals – one where you can show the engineering rationale to prove your alternative is as safe or safer. A common example of that would be replacing the oil based on regular oil analysis rather than changing it out at a specific hour interval. Of course, such a change would have to be thoroughly documented through your Management of Change procedure.

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PHA Worksheets Template updated

The Template What-If / Checklist worksheet used to guide PHA Studies has been modified.

  1. The Identification and Review of Past Incidents section has been renumbered with some new questions concerning the performance of the Incident Investigation element added before the example / industry What-If incident questions.
  2.  We’ve added a new 57-question Revalidation Considerations Checklist to the current list of What-If questions. This new section is to be used as an additional check on PHA revalidations.

These changes are available immediately to anyone using the Google Shared Drive.

Note: These additions are partially based on an EPA-provided example of typical questions asked during a PHA revalidation. It has always been our practice to FULLY revalidate the PHA by reviewing all the previous answers; however, during a revalidation, this new section should help highlight areas of the existing PHA study that demand extra attention.

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