Process Safety Management

The first requirements for having a Process Safety Management (PSM) program were issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in their 1990 proposed Standard 55 FR29150 in response to incidents related to Highly Hazardous Chemicals (HHC). Since its inception, the requirements for Process Safety Management have evolved and expanded over the years.

Process Safety Management is a method of managing hazards and reducing the frequency and severity of incidents associated with the release of chemicals and other energy sources.

The full scope of Process Safety Management incorporates and connects several safety management tools and resources in order to build a robust process safety management system that can be used by both management and lower level employees to manage work in a safe and responsible manner.

Process Safety Management and Process Safety Information

The cornerstone of the Process Safety Management System is Process Safety Information.

Process Safety Information refers to all of the information about the highly hazardous chemicals either used or produced in the process of your business performing its work.

Information such as toxicity, exposure limits, reactivity, corrosivity, stability and the hazardous effects of improper mixing and/or handling of the chemicals are included in the Process Safety Information. This information should be used by the personnel handling, transporting or coming in contact with the hazardous chemicals in their workday.

Employee Participation in Process Safety Management

OSHA requires the participation by employees in the Process Safety Management program.

Not only is employee participation a regulatory compliance issue, but the employees who come in contact with the hazardous chemicals must be allowed to voice their issues and concerns with your company's management if there are issues with any aspect of handling hazardous chemicals.

Setting Your Employees Up for Success: Policies and Procedures

The establishment of standards, policies and procedures is a first step in ensuring your people go home safe but any documented system your company has setup must have a human performance or continuous improvement process to keep your official documents evolving.

After action reviews and other process improvement tools must be used to capture lessons learned and keep any incidents from reoccurring.

Coaching Employees

Employees are not static pieces of machinery. You cannot expect to have a stellar workforce if your training or coaching program consists of one new hire orientation, the occasional regulatory required training, and a yearly evaluation. The majority of employees working in industrial industries have a desire to do good work, and given the choice would welcome the addition of an employee development program.

The problem with most employee development or coaching programs is that the stop at the classroom. Little if any follow-up is done to ensure the new ideas and techniques learned in the classroom are being implemented on the job.

Employee training programs that get out in the field to observe the work and coach behavior have been proven to be more effective than classroom training alone.

Process safety management at its core is about protecting employees from hazardous work environments. While we cannot eliminate every hazard associated with the work we do, what we have an obligation to do is give our employees the tools and resources to work safely on every job.