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Managing OSHA

CSB Sharply Criticizes API 755 and Seeks Public Comment

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CSB Sharply Criticizes API 755 and Seeks Public Comment

(Last week, we highlighted concerns over the CSB’s ambitious agenda, as laid out in the agency’s recently released Five-Year Plan. In today’s post, and those that will soon follow, we see more evidence of the CSB’s aggressive movement to play a bigger role in PSM enforcement.)

In the wake of a fire and explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 180 others at the BP Texas City facility in 2005, CSB made a number of recommendations intended to improve safety in the refining and petrochemical industries.  Among other things, CSB recommended that a standard be developed on fatigue prevention management. In April 2010, API published the first edition of ANSI/API Recommended Practice 755 titled “Fatigue Risk Management Systems for Personnel in the Refining and Petrochemical Industries,” which provides a wide range of options that employers can use to design and employ a comprehensive worker fatigue prevention program. In its 2012 – 2016 Strategic Plan, CSB proposed to study ANSI/API RP 755, analyzing the effectiveness of the recommended practice. Given the relatively recent release of ANSI/API RP 755 and the fact that industry is still in the process of applying its recommendations, employers objected to CSB’s proposed study, arguing that an analysis of ANSI/API RP 755 was premature at this time.

In spite of these objections, CSB announced on March 18, 2013, that it had critiqued the Recommended Practice and prepared a draft document outlining its criticisms. CSB also announced that it was accepting written public comments until April 12th, 2013, and originally scheduled a meeting inviting public comment for April 24th, 2013 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. On April 19, 2013, CSB postponed this meeting until further notice so that it could redirect its resources to conduct an investigation of the recent Waco, Texas fertilizer plant explosion.

CSB’s draft criticisms focus on four primary areas:

  • It was not the result of an effective consensus process;
  • It does not provide firm requirements for employers in certain essential elements of an effective fatigue prevention management system, but rather suggests options employers can consider;
  • It unduly emphasizes subjective or “personal” components of fatigue prevention programs, such as permitting self-evaluation by employees, evaluation by supervisors, and training and education, without objective evidence to support these components; and
  • Its limits on hours and days at work are more permissive and less protective than those suggested by current scientific knowledge.

CSB has determined that the status of this Recommended Practice is: “Open-Unacceptable Action.” This status allows for further improvements to the Recommended Practice to make it more consistent with CSB’s recommendations. API, the author of the Recommended Practice, seriously questions CSB’s conclusion and has submitted written comments for CSB’s consideration.

We will update you as soon as CSB announces a new meeting date for this issue.

For more information, please contact Mark Dreux, Head of the Arent Fox OSHA Group, at 202-857-6405.

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