Why OSHA Emphasizes the Importance of Underground Storage Tanks And PSM
Both OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have taken strict measures to protect employees that work with Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) containing petroleum or other hazardous substances.
This is because the chances of USTs leaking and causing physical harm to those in close proximity exists, and there needs to be a way to educate workers about prevention and management of hazardous substance leaks.
Thus came the idea of process safety management training (PSM).
In order to fully understand what process safety management training is, and how it applies to the more general safety training regarding underground storage tanks, you should first know that the EPA defines the term “process” as follows:
“…any activity involving a highly hazardous chemical including using, storing, manufacturing, handling, or moving such chemicals at the site, or any combination of these activities.”
Additionally, the EPA goes on to state that any group of vessels (or underground storage tanks) that interconnect, or separate vessels that could be involved with highly hazardous chemicals that might potentially release, are considered a single process.
Why Take PSM Training?
The unexpected release of toxic, flammable, or reactive liquids or gases into the environment is a serious health concern for not only those in direct contact with such chemicals, but the community at large.
This is especially true if employees handling such chemicals, or the underground storage tanks storing those chemicals, are unaware of the risks involved, the health issues that can arise from a leakage, and the importance of managing leaks should they occur.
As a result, OSHA decided that implementing online PSM training is one of the most effective and proactive approaches to preventing disasters from occurring.
And, in the case something does happen, OSHA wanted to make sure everyone on site knows what their role is and how to manage the situation properly so the least amount of harm is done.
Any employee involved in operating a process must be trained in the process and its related operating procedures.
This training will include the following:
- The potential safety and health hazards chemical releases can cause
- Emergency procedures in the case of an emergency
- Safe work practices to prevent chemical releases
Additionally, it is important to note that workers that are currently employed and dealing with processes do not necessarily have to take PSM specific training.
Though they may be required to complete additional safety training that is loosely related to processes, employers are allowed to sign off that their current employees have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to carry out any emergency and non-emergency procedures as they relate to the processes they work with.
That said, refresher courses are required every three years for those that do take PSM training, to ensure they remain knowledgeable about their position working with hazardous materials and how to handle the different processes they come in contact with.
Lastly, it is the employer’s responsibility to properly document that each on-site employee has received PSM training. This includes documenting the identity of each employee and the date training occurred.
Altogether, having an in-depth understanding of underground storage tanks and the process safety management training that comes with it will make any workplace dealing with hazardous materials safer, even in the event of an unexpected chemical release.