OSHA‚ Directorate of Enforcement Programs recently issued enforcement guidance on the application of the PSM standard (29 CFR 1910.119) requirements regarding Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices (RAGAGEP). These good engineering practices are most often found in published industry consensus standards (e.g. ANSI/IIAR 2-2008 Ammonia Refrigeration Systems) and codes (e.g. NFPA 70 National Electric Codes). Under certain circumstances RAGAGEP can include a facility‚ internal standards.
There are three provisions of 29 CFR 1910.119 which reference RAGAGEP:
- (d)(3)(ii): Employers must document that all equipment in PSM-covered processes complies with RAGAGEP
- (j)(4)(ii): Inspection and tests on process equipment subject to the mechanical integrity requirements must be conducted in accordance with RAGAGEP
- (j)(4(iii): Frequency of tests and inspections must follow manufacturer‚ recommendations and RAGAGEP.
In short, under the PSM Standard, RAGAGEP applies to the following components of covered process equipment:
- Inspection and test practices
- Inspection and test frequencies
Shall‚Äô and Should in RAGAGEP
In this memorandum OSHA sets forth its view that the use of shall, must or similar language in published RAGAGEP establishes that the practice is mandatory, and if an employer deviates from shall or shall not requirements in the applicable RAGAGEP, a violation will be presumed.
OSHA contends that the use of should or similar language in the RAGAGEP reflects an acceptable or preferred approach to controlling a recognized hazard. If the employer complies with the RAGAGEP recommended approach, OSHA will presume that such an approach to the hazard is acceptable.
However, if an employer chooses an approach other than the one the RAGAGEP says should apply, OSHA inspectors (CSHOs) are instructed to evaluate whether the employer‚ alternate approach is at least as protective as the RAGAGEP suggested approach.
CSHO‚ are given additional guidance in evaluating an employer‚ RAGAGEP compliance and are instructed to:
- Evaluate whether multiple RAGAGEP apply to a specific process.
- Remember that employers do not need to comply with a RAGAGEP provision that is not applicable to its specific worksite conditions, situations or applications.
- Evaluate whether an employer is using a RAGAGEP outside of its intended application (e.g., applying ammonia refrigeration standards in a chemical plant or refinery). Use of inapplicable RAGAGEP is grounds for a citation.
- If a RAGAGEP does not fully apply, the employer‚ internal standards are expected to address the process hazards; the adequacy of these internal standards is to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
- An employer‚ internal standards may be more stringent that the relevant RAGAGEP (to control hazards unique to the process). Under these circumstances, if an employer meets RAGAGEP requirements, but fails to comply with its own internal standards, it may be grounds for a citation.
- Selectively applying individual provisions from multiple RAGAGEP addressing similar hazards may be inappropriate, and may lead to citations (to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis).
- Failure to document that the inspection and testing of equipment complies with RAGAGEP (1910.119 (j)(4)(ii) and (iii)) constitutes a violation.
- Employers must document that the covered process equipment complies with RAGAGEP. Failure to document compliance (and any deviation from compliance) with RAGAGEP is a violation.
- Equipment covered under PSM‚ Mechanical Integrity provision (1910.119(j)) that is outside acceptable limits as defined by the Process Safety Information (with reference to RAGAGEP) is a violation.
- Older equipment may not be subject to a RAGAGEP (because none existed at the time of design and construction, or the design and construction was done pursuant to codes and standards no longer in use). In such cases, employers are required to document that the equipment is designed and operating in a safe manner.
- If an updated RAGAGEP explicitly provides that the new requirements are retroactive, OSHA expects employers to conform to the new requirements. If the update is not retroactive, OSHA still expects employers to confirm that the process equipment is designed, maintained, inspected, tested and operated in a safe manner, through use of Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) revalidation, management of change (MOC) process, or corporate monitoring and review of published standards.
OSHA has shifted its enforcement emphasis to longer, more thorough inspections, and PSM inspections rank as one of OSHA‚ enforcement priorities. This new enforcement guidance addresses potential citations related to the application of RAGAGEP to covered processes. Citations for RAGAGEP related violations are often seen with respect to Process Safety Information (identifying the applicable RAGAGEP), Mechanical Integrity, and Testing and Inspections. Employers are well served to regularly review the RAGAGEP which apply to their processes.