OSHA Announces Increased Emphasis on Petroleum Refineries

By Vincent A. Carucci

On June 12, 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a directive implementing a National Emphasis Program to help eliminate workplace hazards associated with the release of highly hazardous chemicals at petroleum refineries. This directive (CPL 03-00-004) was prompted by the “large number of fatal or catastrophic incidents in the refining industry” in the US. Based on OSHA statistics compiled since 1992, “no other industry sector has had as many fatal or catastrophic incidents related to the release of highly hazardous chemicals as the petroleum refining industry.” Based on the announcement, over the next two years, OSHA will conduct approximately 81 refinery inspections. These are in addition to other regional and state enforcement projects already underway. The news release and details of this new emphasis program are on the OSHA web site at www.osha.gov/Osh Doc/Directive_pdf/CPL_03-00-004.pdf.

The following highlights items covered in this directive:

The directive lists the required documentation, areas that will be reviewed, and the types of information requested. Reviewing this well in advance of the inspections would be a good idea to help avoid possible difficulties later. While this directive only applies to refineries in the U.S., the information contained in it provides excellent guidance for refineries located anywhere.