Both PSM and RMP require that the owner or operator have a system in place to promptly address the team’s PHA findings and recommendations to assure they are resolved in a timely matter. See 29 CFR 1910.119(e)(5) and 40 CFR 68.67(e). In accordance with Pre-startup review requirements, these PHA recommendations must be resolved or implemented prior to startup. See CFR 1910.119(i)(2)(iii) and 40 CFR 68.77(b)(3). When is a recommendation resolved?

According to OSHA, a recommendation can be resolved in one of three ways: rejection, accepting with modifications, and acceptance. See 57 Fed. Reg. 6356, 6379 (Feb. 24, 1992). However the recommendation is resolved, that resolution must be documented.

It is very important to understand that resolution and implementation are two distinct steps. Usually the “system in place” includes a management team meeting, sometime after completing the PHA, to address the recommendations. If that management team goes through the recommendations and either accepts, accepts with modifications, or rejects the recommendation, the regulatory requirements to resolve in a timely manner have been met, even though the solution is not in place.

Often management will assign an item to a staff member to investigate. Has this recommendation been resolved? Well, maybe. If management’s intent was to accept this recommendation and assign it to someone to begin a more thorough investigation, it may have been resolved. On the other hand, if management assigned the item to someone to investigate further, saving the Go / No Go decision for later, the recommendation probably has not been resolved.

Management may also send a recommendation back to the team for further consideration. This in itself is not resolution, however it could certainly be part of a system that assures that recommendations are resolved in a timely manner. Upon review by the team, they may change their mind or address managements concern and return the recommendation. Whatever the team does and any subsequent decision made by management must be documented.

For more information, contact Lee Vail.

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