The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I or Department) recently released two documents related to its development of a refinery-specific process safety management (PSM) rule. First, L&I released a revised draft of its proposed refinery-specific PSM rule language; the Department, however, will not be accepting comments on this language until formal rulemaking begins in May 2020. Second, the Department issued an economic survey for refineries, which L&I will use to develop an economic impact statement and cost-benefit analysis. The survey asks refineries to estimate the internal costs of compliance, anticipate any necessary programmatic changes, and describe current processes related to the proposed rule elements. Refineries must return the survey to the Department by February 13, 2020.
Washington is the second state to consider a refinery-specific PSM rule. California’s regulation, codified at 8 C.C.R. section 5189.1, went into effect in October 2017. Washington’s proposed language, which was first circulated in January 2018, draws heavily from California’s rule. Specifically, Washington proposes to adopt all new PSM elements implemented in California that were not required by the federal PSM or the state’s non-refinery-specific PSM rules, although the Department is not proposing language identical to that in California’s rule within each of these elements. These elements include requiring refineries to perform damage mechanism reviews, hierarchy of hazard controls analyses, management of organizational change analyses, and process safety culture assessments. As in California, Washington’s proposed language would introduce several new defined terms, including definitions of “Major Change” and “Major Incident,” and broaden the scope of existing terms in ways that will expand the potential applicability of the rule to those parts of refineries currently considered to be non-process areas.