Where Does PSM Go From Here?

Thanks to the joint efforts of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute, OSHA's attempt to apply its Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard to agricultural retailers did not go into effect last month. Instead, because the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against OSHA in late September, the memo narrowing the interpretation of "retail" is vacated.

OSHA has requested a re-hearing by the Court of Appeals, and if denied, the agency could pursue an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Or, it is possible OSHA could go back to the drawing board and try to make the change legally through the notice-and-comment rulemaking process, says Brian Reuwee, ARA director of communications.

"OSHA, under the current administration, had signaled it would continue to pursue PSM and apply it to retailers. We were probably looking at a seven- to 10-year-long timeframe," Reuwee says.

The hope now, he adds, is that President-elect Trump's administration may not see PSM as a priority.

"That's our general impression given that Mr. Trump has railed on regulations, saying there are too many in business, and hopefully, his feelings will apply to retailers and PSM as well," Reuwee says.

After the September court decision, the PSM retail exemption remains to be defined as facilities that "generate more than 50% of their income from direct sales of chemicals to end users," just as it has since 1992.


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