Fourth (4th) Public Review of Standard BSR/IIAR 6

December 7th, 2018

To:

IIAR Members

Re:

Fourth (4th) Public Review of Standard BSR/IIAR 6-201x, Standard for Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems.

A fourth (4th) public review of draft standard BSR/IIAR 6-201x, Standard for Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems is now open. The International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) invites you to make comments on the draft standard. Substantive changes resulting from this public review will also be provided for comment in a future public review if necessary.

BSR/IIAR 6-201x, specifies the minimum requirements for inspection, testing, and maintenance applicable to stationary closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. It presupposes that the persons who use the document have a working knowledge of the functionality of ammonia refrigeration system(s) and basic ammonia refrigeration practices and principles. This standard is intended for those who inspect, test, and maintain stationary closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. This standard shall apply only to stationary closed-circuit refrigeration systems utilizing ammonia as the refrigerant. It supplements existing general refrigeration standards issued by IIAR and other organizations such as ASHRAE, ASME, and ANSI. It is not intended to supplant existing safety codes (e.g., model mechanical or fire codes).

IIAR has designated the draft standard as BSR/IIAR 6-201x. Upon approval by the ANSI Board of Standards Review, the standard will receive a different name that reflects this approval date.

We invite you to participate in the fourth (4th) public review of BSR/IIAR 6-201x. IIAR will use the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) procedures to develop evidence of consensus among affected parties. ANSI’s role in the revision process is to establish and enforce standards of openness, balance, due process and harmonization with other American and International Standards. IIAR is the ANSI-accredited standards developer for BSR/IIAR 6-201x and is responsible for the technical content of the standard.

This site includes links to the following attachments:

 

The 45-day public review period will be from December 7th, 2018 through January 21st, 2019. Comments are due no later than 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) on January 21st, 2019.

Thank you for your interest in the public review of BSR/IIAR 6-201x, Standard for Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems.

Please take time to review these changes. As we’ve stated previously, IIAR 6 will be the biggest change to Ammonia Refrigeration practices since the advent of PSM/RMP.

The long-delayed 2017 EPA RMP amendments are finally in effect

Action: Final rule; announcement of effective date.

Summary: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that the amendments to the Risk Management Program under the Clean Air Act put forward in a final rule published in the Federal Register on January 13, 2017 are in effect.

Dates: The rule amending 40 CFR part 68, published at 82 FR 4594 (January 13, 2017) and delayed at 82 FR 8499 (January 26, 2017), 82 FR 13968 (March 16, 2017), and 82 FR 27133 (June 14, 2017), is effective December 3, 2018.

Source: regulations.gov

 

We’ve been warning about it for a while, but it’s finally happened: The 2017 Obama EPA RMP amendments are now in effect. You need to make changes to your RMP prevention program to be compliant with these changes.

We have created two documents to assist you in making these changes:

  1. First, is a “clean” CFR. That is, a version of the RMP Rule that shows it as we believe it is right now. Note, there are minor errors in the actual RMP rule as filed in the Federal Register, so we’ll update this as the filing is fixed. 38 page “Clean” CFR link (here).
  2. We have also created a list of changes – arranged by PSM/RMP element – that need to be made to your RC&E PSM program to become compliant with the updated RMP rule. We’ve created a 10 page PDF with that information (here).

 

Feel free to Contact Us via if you would like assistance from RC&E in updating your PSM/RMP program to comply with these new requirements.

 

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Update on the Cyrus Shank LQ Series Relief Valves Replacement Schedule

A little over a year ago, our Process Safety Engineer, Josh Latovich, posted an article entitled “The Cyrus Shank LQ Series Relief Valves – A Discussion on Manufacturer’s Recommendations and the 5 Year Pressure Relief Valve Interval.” The article dealt with confusion surrounding dueling RAGAGEP’s for the replacement interval of hydrostatic valves.

Since that time the issue has come up repeatedly with various opinions provided by industry organizations, end-users, OSHA & EPA inspectors and others. In an October 10th, 2017 update to the article to say “If the Cyrus Shank engineering department changes their position then this issue can be re-evaluated…”

Well, GOOD NEWS. At the 2018 RETA Conference in Dallas, TX this week I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with Cyrus Shank engineer Matt Powell. He was willing to discuss the issue and provide assistance to resolve this issue. Here’s what we need from Cyrus Shank regarding this issue:

 

This means that the manufacturer is onboard with the IIAR’s position on NOT having to replace these valves if they are visually inspected.

THAT SAID, you still need to look at the FUNCTION of these valves in your system during your Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) to see if their failure will negatively impact your system. In the way they are NORMALLY used, a failure of these valves would cause efficiency issues, rather than safety ones. But you will need to look at the unique situation you have with them before deciding whether a replacement schedule is appropriate or not.

Thanks again to Matt Powell and Cyrus Shank for finally putting this issue to rest. You can download a copy of the letter from them at this link.

For a full recap of the issue, you can go to the original article.

IIAR 5 Public Review #1

The IIAR’s Standard 5 Startup of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems  is often overlooked. They’ve just announced a public review of an updated version of the standard. No changelog was provided, but it looks like a fairly minor 5yr maintenance update at first glance.

To: IIAR Members
Re: First (1st) Public Review of BSR/IIAR 5-201x, Startup of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems
A first (1st) public review of draft standard BSR/IIAR 5-201x, Startup of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems is now open. The International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) invites you to make comments on the draft standard. Substantive changes resulting from this public review will also be provided for comment in a future public review if necessary.

BSR/IIAR 5-201x, defines the minimum requirements for startup of closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. It presupposes that the persons who use the document have a working knowledge of the functionality of an ammonia refrigeration system(s) and basic ammonia refrigeration practices and principles. This standard is intended for those who startup closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. This standard shall apply only to stationary closed-circuit refrigeration systems utilizing ammonia as the refrigerant. It supplements existing general refrigeration standards issued by IIAR and other organizations such as ASHRAE, ASME, and ANSI. It is not intended to supplant existing safety codes (e.g., model mechanical or fire codes).

IIAR has designated the draft standard as BSR/IIAR 5-201x. Upon approval by the ANSI Board of Standards Review, the standard will receive a different name that reflects this approval date.

We invite you to participate in the first (1st) public review of BSR/IIAR 5-201x. IIAR will use the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) procedures to develop evidence of consensus among affected parties. ANSI’s role in the revision process is to establish and enforce standards of openness, balance, due process, and harmonization with other American and International Standards. IIAR is the ANSI-accredited standards developer for BSR/IIAR 5-201x, and is responsible for the technical content of the standard.

This site includes links to the following attachments:

The 45-day public review period will be from October 26th, 2018 through December 10th, 2018. Comments are due no later than 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) on December 10th, 2018.

2017 RMP Updates – The end of the road?

Near the end of 2016, the Obama EPA published an updated RMP rule. It was officially entered into the CFR on January 13th, 2017. Since then, many things have happened:

  • It was delayed until Mar. 17, 2017, at 82 FR 8499, on Jan. 26, 2017;
  • It was further delayed until June 19, 2017, at 82 FR 13968, on Mar. 16, 2017;
  • It was further delayed yet again until Feb. 19, 2019, at 82 FR 27133, on June 14, 2017;
  • It was tentatively replaced on May 17, 2018;
  • It was un-delayed and re-instated by the DC District Court on August 17, 2018;
  • It was re-delayed by the SAME DC District Court on September 9, 2018; and
  • It was AGAIN un-delayed and re-instated by the SAME DC District Court on September 21, 2018

After all that, the RMP rule as amended at the tail of the Obama administration is now surprisingly in effect, even though it is currently being replaced. That means every RMP facility in the country is suddenly out of compliance. This led the EPA to publish an un-signed, un-dated, Compliance Bulletin at the end of September, 2018.

Based on how we read it, that compliance bulletin essentially tells us that the EPA is DONE fighting the delay in the courts. They are going to implement and (to some degree) enforce the Obama-era rule and continue with their new rule-making process which should (eventually) reverse many of these changes.

In the interim, we are stuck with an updated, enforceable, RMP rule. This means that there are new/updated EPA RMP requirements that your program needs to be updated to address.

We have created two documents to assist you in making these changes:

  1. First, is a “clean” CFR. That is, a version of the RMP Rule that shows it as we believe it is right now. Note, there are minor errors in the actual RMP rule as filed in the Federal Register, so we’ll update this as the filing is fixed. 38 page “Clean” CFR link (here).
  2. We have also created a list of changes – arranged by PSM/RMP element – that need to be made to your RC&E PSM program to become compliant with the updated RMP rule. We’ve created a 10 page PDF with that information (here).

Feel free to Contact Us via if you would like assistance from RC&E in updating your program.


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IIAR 2-2014, Addendum A Third Public Review

The IIAR has announced a 3rd Public Review of Standard BSR/IIAR 2-2014, Addendum A, Standard for Safe design of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems. This brings some interesting changes to IIAR 2 . Two of these proposed changes are :

  1. Clearing up the “corrosion allowance” debate in a way that most reasonable people can live with.
  2. Clearing up the NH3 detection requirements – mostly by moving Level 2 & 3 to the informative appendix.

For more information, check out the announcement (with links) below:

A third (3rd) public review of draft standard BSR/IIAR 2-2014 Addendum A, Standard for Safe Design of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems is now open. The International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) invites you to make comments on the draft standard. Substantive changes resulting from this public review will also be provided for comment in a future public review if necessary.

BSR/IIAR 2-2014, Addendum A specifies the minimum safety criteria for design of closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. It presupposes that the persons who use the document have a working knowledge of the functionality of ammonia refrigerating system(s) and basic ammonia refrigerating practices and principles. This standard is intended for those who develop, define, implement and/or review the design of ammonia refrigeration systems. This standard shall apply only to closed-circuit refrigeration systems utilizing ammonia as the refrigerant. It supplements existing general refrigeration standards issued by IIAR and other organizations such as ASHRAE, ASME, and ANSI. It is not intended to supplant existing safety codes (e.g., model mechanical or fire codes).

IIAR has designated the revised standard as BSR/IIAR 2-2014, Addendum A. Upon approval by the ANSI Board of Standards Review, the standard will receive a different name that reflects this approval date.

We invite you to participate in the third (3rd) public review of BSR/IIAR 2-2014, Addendum A. IIAR will use the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) procedures to develop evidence of consensus among affected parties. ANSI’s role in the revision process is to establish and enforce standards of openness, balance, due process and harmonization with other American and International Standards. IIAR is the ANSI-accredited standards developer for BSR/IIAR 2-2014, Addendum A, and is responsible for the technical content of the standard.

This site includes links to the following attachments:

.

The 30-day public review period will be from October 5, 2018 to November 4, 2018. Comments are due no later than November 4, 2018.

Thank you for your interest in the public review of BSR/IIAR 2-2014, Addendum A, Standard for Safe Design of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems.

EPA RMP update “Delay” rule vacated by DC District Court

EPA retains authority under Section 7412(r)(7) to substantively amend the programmatic requirements of the Chemical Disaster Rule, and pursuant to that authority, revise its effective and compliance dates, subject to arbitrary and capricious review.

. . . the agency must examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action including a rational explanation of the facts found and the choice made.” When an agency reverses itself, it “must show that there are good reasons for the new policy,” but it need not show that “the reasons for the new policy are better than the reasons for the old one.” However, if the “new policy rests upon factual findings that contradict those which underlay its prior policy,” it must provide “a reasoned explanation . . . for disregarding facts and circumstances that underlay or were engendered by the prior policy.”

What does it mean? 

The district court said they could have made a new rule which struck down the Obama-era updated rule, but they can’t delay that Obama-era rule longer than the 90 days in the CAA statute. So, the EPA has a few options here:

  1. Appeal the decision
  2. Follow the statutory rule-making process  and delay the rule for a period they can defend.
  3. Follow the statutory rule-making process and remove / modify the requirements of the Obama-era updated rule effectively replacing it with a Trump-era one.
  4. Implement the Obama era rule (This isn’t quite possible as some of the compliance dates have passed or are very close.)

My guess is that it’s a combination of the first 3 options.

You can read the court’s ruling in its entirety online.

Update: 090618 : The drama continues: “Tuesday afternoon the judges reversed that order, saying it had been made “inadvertently.” The Aug. 17 decision is still in place, but it will not take effect until (at least) Oct. 8.”

 

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Properly Addressing PSM / RMP Findings & Recommendations

Process Safety managers are often buried under a torrent of Findings and Recommendations from PSM/RMP elements such as Employee Participation (EP), Process Hazard Analysis (PHA), Pre-Startup Safety Review (PSSR), Incident Investigations (II), and Compliance Audits (CA).

In compliance audits over the past decade the single most likely deficiency I find is failing to properly “address” these Findings / Recommendations. Note: a Finding / Recommendation is considered “addressed” when you either accept & implement it, or justifiably delay the implementation while assuring safe operation. The most common problems are:

  • Failing to respond to the Finding / Recommendation.
  • Failing to document the response to a Finding / Recommendation even if it was addressed.
  • Planning to accept a Recommendation (or proposing a solution to a Finding) in the future (usually through CapEx) while not either:
    • Assuring the situation is safe in the interim.
    • Implementing an interim solution to ensure the process is safe during the delay.

Let’s look at each of these and discuss how Process Safety manager typically fail, and what YOU can do to avoid common failures.

 

Failing to respond to a Finding / Recommendation

Failing to respond to known issues is all too common. There are many reasons this happens, but in my experience, here are the most common problems:

Not understanding the issue.

Solution: Ask questions about the reason for the Finding / Recommendation. Don’t let someone tell you that something has to be done a certain way without an adequate explanation. Many unnecessary Findings / Recommendations  can be avoided or solved simply by asking the person making it to provide their actual reasons for it. This isn’t about feelings. Ask for the specific hazard, regulation, code, standard, etc. You can’t judge a Finding / Recommendation without understanding it, and neither can management. In the case of legitimate Findings / Recommendations, understanding the issues behind the Finding / Recommendation will help you gain momentum to address the problem.

Assuming the solution won’t be approved

Solution: Don’t prejudge. That isn’t your role. Your role as the Responsible Person is to bring these issues to the people that are in charge of the process. Ask the right questions and present the necessary information to management. THEY are responsible for their decisions after that. Your role is to document their responses and remind them if you haven’t received adequate direction on the disposition of the Finding / Recommendation.

Losing Track of the Finding / Recommendation

Solution: Implement a robust tracking method. Personally, I’ve always liked tracking sheets, but electronic software can work too. Whatever your method, you need a *system* to promptly address and resolve Findings / Recommendations. Once you’ve established this system, use it to set the agenda of your regularly scheduled Process Safety meetings. A tracking system should document:

Where the Finding / Recommendation came from.

Why the recommendation was made and the the actual text of the Finding / Recommendation.

When the Finding / Recommendation was made. When the Finding / Recommendation (and any interim measures) are to be completed by. When activities on it occur and, ultimately, when it is marked as fully addressed.

Who is Responsible for it.

What has been done, is being done, and is planned to be done.

 

Failing to document the Response

If you’ve implemented a system to track Findings / Recommendations, then this shouldn’t be an issue. Where most people fail here is not documenting what they are told. An example: you bring up a recommendation during a conversation with management and they give you an answer, but you don’t document that verbal answer in your tracking system. Even better, when you are given verbal answers to a Finding / Recommendation, either document that answer in the meeting notes or in a follow-up email to the person that gave you the verbal answer.

Even when you actually addressed the Finding / Recommendation, failing to document it can come back and bite you. I’ve witnessed a situation where a recommendation to paint a valve group was implemented but not documented. A few years later, during an OSHA inspection, the facility was cited for not documenting that they did the work – even though the CSHO agreed that the valve group appeared to have been painted. Remember, there are explicit requirements in the PSM rule that you document Finding / Recommendation resolutions: PHA e(5) “the resolution is documented; document what actions are to be taken…” Incident Investigation m(5) “…Resolutions and corrective actions shall be documented.” Compliance Audit o(4) “…determine and document an appropriate response to each of the findings of the compliance audit, and document that deficiencies have been corrected.”

 

Assured Interim Safety or Interim Measures

When you receive a Finding / Recommendation, it’s best to work with the j(5) standard: “… correct deficiencies…before further use or in a safe and timely manner when necessary means are taken to assure safe operation.”

Put simply: Either shut it down or ensure it’s safe to operate while you are planning & implementing your response.

Let’s use the example of a valve group that has been identified as “rusty.”

First, we need to evaluate the condition of the valve station. Is it so bad that you don’t know if it’s safe? If so, shut it down until you can evaluate it further. Document this decision and the reasons for it.

Is it mild surface rust such that it just needs cleaning and a fresh coat of paint? Either clean and paint it right away or document why it’s safe to operate until when you plan on cleaning and painting it.

 

Bonus: What a flowchart of a SYSTEM for Finding / Recommendation resolution can look like:

What can we learn from the Fernie Ammonia fatalities?

The October 17th, 2017 Ammonia release in Fernie, BC resulted in three fatalities:

On October 16, 2017, the curling brine chiller at the Fernie Memorial Arena was put back into operation after a seasonal shutdown. During the shutdown and seasonal maintenance, ammonia had been detected in the curling brine system, indicating that the curling brine chiller was leaking… A total of three people were found deceased in the mechanical room: the director of leisure services, the refrigeration operator, and a refrigeration contractor mechanic.

 

Three people died in a completely avoidable incident. If you want to know the particulars of the incident, I’d recommend you go read the Incident Report itself. While we can’t go back in time and avoid this particular incident, we can extract some valuable lessons from it to prevent a similar incident in the future.

There’s a lot that went wrong, but we’re going to focus on a few key failures in Mechanical Integrity, Process Safety, and Release / Incident Response. We’ll briefly discuss each failure and provide ten opportunities for improving your current Process Safety system.

Note: While this incident occurred in Canada, which does not have robust Process Safety regulation, we’re going to provide our analysis as if it was a PSM/RMP plant. Even if this incident had occurred in the US, the total system inventory was estimated at less than 1,000 pounds, placing it in the General Duty category. Most operators of these General Duty systems do not choose to implement a PSM system – hopefully this incident will cause them to re-evaluate that choice.

 

Equipment Age and installation: In 2011, the facility received a recommendation from their mechanical contractor to replace the chiller due to its age. It had been in service for about 24 years and had a life expectancy of 20-25yrs. (At the time of failure the chiller was in service for approximately 31yrs.) The facility actually budgeted for this replacement, deferred it, and then dropped the idea altogether. The report (and appendices) detail this decision making and indicates that the people making these decisions didn’t understand the underlying safety issues or the possible repercussions of these decisions. In part this was due to management turnover – the people who received the initial recommendation no longer worked at the facility when those recommendations were due to be implemented. Additionally, post-release, it was determined that the failed coupling was not properly supported.

Possible PSM citations: 1910.119(d)(3)(ii) for not installing the coupling per the manufacturers recommendations. 1910.119(d)(3)(ii) for equipment operating outside manufacturer’s recommended lifespan. 1910.119(e)(1) for the PHA not analyzing the hazards associated with operating outside the manufacturer’s recommended lifespan. 1910.119(j)(5) for operating the equipment with a known (service life) deficiency without assuring safe operation. 1910.119(m)(5) for not addressing and resolving a recommendation. (if the recommendation was made due to an indication of NH3 in the brine)

Opportunity #1: When a piece of equipment has a stated service life, you need to either replace the equipment per the recommendation or support your decision to keep it in service with a suitable engineering rationale.

Opportunity #2: When operators & contractors make recommendations, they need to provide CLEAR and defensible reasons for those recommendations.

Opportunity #3: When recommendations are delayed, deferred, or not completed, the operators & contractors need to ensure that the decision makers understand the implications of their decisions.

Opportunity #4: A Pre-Startup Safety Review (PSSR) and ongoing MI tasks need to ensure that equipment is installed correctly and maintained in a safe manner / arrangement.

 

Signs of Failure and Deficiency Response: The facility detected NH3 in the brine (by scent) in April of 2017 and then followed it up with a lab test of the brine showing over 3,000ppm of NH3 in June. The facility decided to continue operating the chiller and “monitor” it. A second test in August showed an NH3 concentration near 2,000ppm. Again, the facility decided to keep “monitoring” the situation. The report indicated that the personnel performing the tests and receiving the results didn’t understand the safety implications of them. Even after receiving the tests showing the chiller had failed, the facility decided to keep operating it. According to the report, there was no evidence the facility understood the hazards associated with a leaking chiller.

Furthermore, due to a miscommunication, the contractor believed the facility had taken the chiller out-of-service and they were preparing a bid to replace the leaking unit. The contractor’s recommendation to “monitor” the unit was likely meant to monitor it to see if the valves were leaking by, but the facility interpreted it as a go-ahead to continue operating the defective chiller until it could be replaced as long as they “monitored” it.

The contractor had no policy or procedure in place to deal with a failed chiller outside the usual troubleshooting, repair and replace activities. The investigators concluded that none of the people involved with the decision to continue operating the chiller had training or qualifications involving condition/risk assessment.

Possible PSM citations: 1910.119(j)(5) for operating the equipment with a known (integrity) deficiency without assuring safe operation. 1910.119(m)(5) for not addressing and resolving a recommendation. 1910.119(g)(1)(i) for not training personnel of the hazards associated with a leaking chiller.

Opportunity #5: Personnel reviewing test results need to understand the meaning of the test results and the safety implication of those test results.

Opportunity #6: When test results are provided to decision-makers, these results need to provide adequate information so that the decision-makers understand them and their safety implications.

Opportunity #7: When contractors are called to deal with deficient equipment, they will almost always provide guidance / estimates on how to repair / replace the equipment, but facilities should demand a risk assessment on continued operation of the equipment if they intend to continue its operation while planning and preparing for the repair / replacement.

From Appendix V of the report: “In the majority of instances, owner/operators relied heavily on the refrigeration contractor’s assessment of the equipment and evaluation of the NH3 indication in the brine samples. The owner is accountable for the safe condition and operation of the equipment but in some instances, deferment to the refrigeration contractor’s assessment and recommendations for the equipment was observed.”

Opportunity #8: When a facility outsources maintenance work, they often erroneously think that they are outsourcing the responsibility as well. It is important for a facility to understand that this remains their process and their responsibility. Ask tough questions of your contractors to ensure that you understand the condition of your system.

 

Facility and Contractor Incident Release Response: On the day of the release at 03:53 the machine room NH3 alarm registered 300ppm. Responding facility personnel observed the brine expansion tank shaking and spilling brine. At 04:30, the facility personnel shutdown the system and closed the chiller suction valve, observing that the shaking in the brine tank stopped. This should have indicated to the facility personnel that the separation between the brine and NH3 sides was completely compromised and that the brine loop was now full of ammonia. At 05:18 the facility personnel called the contractor to come in and re-configure the system to operate without the brine chiller.

At some point during the work, the personnel isolated the brine chiller, trapping the ammonia-laden brine in the chiller with no outlet available for it. As this ammonia-laden brine warmed up, the pressure inside the brine chiller rose and, at an estimated pressure of 30-150psig, a coupling on the brine-side of the brine chiller failed releasing the contents into the machine room and onto the personnel in the room. The estimated total NH3 release was 22 pounds (9lbs immediately vaporizing) resulting in an immediate concentration in the area of 20,000ppm which dissipated to about 5,000ppm over a period of 5 minutes.

The report uses electricity demand to conclude that the personnel did not attempt a pump-out of the brine chiller. Unlike a CSB report, the report does not go into the fatalities. We have no idea where the personnel were positioned in the room, or what – if any – PPE they were wearing at the time of the release. It can reasonably be surmised that they weren’t wearing any respiratory PPE at all.

Possible PSM citations: 1910.119(g)(1)(i) for not training personnel of the hazards associated with NH3 contaminated brine and the hazards of trapping it. 1910.119(h)(3)(ii) for the contractor not being trained in the hazards associated with NH3 contaminated brine and 1910.119(h)(2)(v) for the facility not ensuring this training occurred. 1910.119(n) for not providing “procedures to handle small releases.” 1910.119(f)(1)(i)(D) for not providing an emergency shutdown procedure. 1910.119(f)(1)(i)(E) for not providing an emergency operations procedure.

Opportunity #9: While we often train on the dangers associated with trapping NH3, the dangers of trapping NH3 contamination in a secondary loop is rarely discussed. Operator training in facilities that utilize secondary cooling loops must address contamination and its possible safety implications.

Opportunity #10: While it’s not possible to know for sure, it is extremely likely that all three of these fatalities could have been avoided if the personnel were wearing full-face APRs at the time of release. Note: They would have to have been wearing them, not have them “near-by.” APR’s aren’t magic.

 

090618 Update: Full WorkSafeBC Incident Report

Is a condenser change a Replacement in Kind?

The Question:

Imagine a project where you are going to replace an existing condenser with a newer model. Does this “change” trigger the MOC element or does it fall into the Replacement in Kind exemption to the MOC requirement?

This question comes up from a customer several times a year.

 

The Short answer:

The answer – if you are short on time – is: An equipment change rarely qualifies as a Replacement in Kind

 

The LONG answer:

First, let’s look at the relevant text of the PSM MOC requirement:

1910.119(l)(1) – The employer shall establish and implement written procedures to manage changes (except for “replacements in kind”) to process chemicals, technology, equipment, and procedures; and, changes to facilities that affect a covered process. (The RMP text is essentially the same, so we’re just going to focus on the PSM text)

This text is about the scope of the MOC requirement; or to put it another way: What triggers the requirement?

This proposed condenser change is obviously a change to equipment that has the potential to affect a covered process so it could be covered. In theory, if the new condenser does not affect a covered process we could classify it as a Replacement in Kind. Unfortunately, we don’t actually know if the new condenser will affect the process until we investigate the change. Some questions we’ll need to ask include (but are not limited to):

1) Are there piping / valving changes?

2) Is the overpressure protection the same?

3) Does the new equipment require any changes to the inventory calculation, relief calculation, equipment schedule, etc?

4) Are there any changes to the electrical requirements and controls?

5) Does the new equipment require any changes to existing SOP(s) and MIP(s)?

6) Does the new equipment require any changes to the existing MI schedule?

7) Does the new equipment require any changes to the existing Operator Training?

8) Does the new equipment require any change to the existing Process Hazard Analysis to ensure it properly identifies, evaluates and controls the hazards of the new equipment?

9) Are there any other ways that this new equipment could affect safety and health?

That’s a lot of questions to ask and it’s really just the beginning of them. To even consider this new equipment a Replacement in Kind, we’d have to ask all these questions (and more) and answer them with “No, there are no changes required”.

You know a great way to ensure that you ask these types of questions and properly document your answers? THE MOC ELEMENT. It is literally a written program to Manage Changes.

While it’s not very likely that you will go through the entire MOC procedure and find there are no required changes to the PSM program, if you did so, then you could properly quantify the replacement as a Replacement in Kind and you would have your written questions and answers to defend that judgement.

 

Where does the confusion come from?

Why do so many people think that these types of equipment changes are not covered by the MOC requirement? Often it’s as simple as getting bad advice from consultants or refrigeration “schools.” I think part of the confusion on the issue stems from legacy industry guidance. For the vast majority of Ammonia PSM practitioners, the IIAR is our go-to guidance on design, construction, startup, decommissioning, maintenance, etc., so it’s natural to refer to them for PSM guidance.

Here’s a section from the IIAR’s  1994  Guide to the Implementation of Process Safety Management for Ammonia Refrigeration:

 

Here’s the same section from the IIAR’s 2012 updated Process Safety Management and Risk Management Program Guidelines:

 

Some quick thoughts on that guidance:

1) The term “Like for like” does not exist in the text of the PSM or RMP rule(s) and only leads to more confusion.

2) The first bullet of the 1994 guidance muddles the issue with assumptions. In the legal realm this is referred to as “Assuming facts not in evidence” meaning that the argument is relying on data that hasn’t been provided. We don’t know if the “piping, specifications, connections, instrumentation, and controls” are identical until we actually perform the MOC or something A LOT like it.

3) The second bullet of the 1994 guidance and the revised 2012 guidance are clearer, but they suffer from the same problem with assumptions.

Note: The IIAR is currently updating the Process Safety Management and Risk Management Program Guidelines and I expect the new version to significantly alter this guidance.

 

Why does this matter?

Misclassifying a covered change as a Replacement in Kind often allows the facility to circumvent the Management of Change procedure.

Let me offer a real-world example: During a client visit it was discovered that they were having a replacement condenser installed and that they were classifying it as a Replacement in Kind. They explained that they were doing this because they treated a previous condenser replacement as a Replacement in Kind due to advice from a class one of their employees had attended. We started asking some questions and in under an hour found the following:

1) The relief valves had been removed from both condensers and replaced with hand valves and pipe stubs. (Presumably to allow manual purging)

2) The new stubs did not have caps installed and were therefore open to the atmosphere.

3) The P&IDs no longer reflected the as-built condition of the facility for either of the condensers.

4) The SOPs still referred to the OLD models, not the current ones.

5) The SOPs still referenced the removed relief valves.

6) The PHA section covering condensers still listed relief valves as a safeguard and therefore did not properly identify, evaluate and control the hazards of the condensers.

ALL the above issues would have been avoided with a properly conducted Management of Change procedure.

Considering a change to your system and have some questions? Drop us an email at info@RCE-Chill.com

 

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