New regulations improving safety in oil refineries receive final approval

New regulations improving safety in oil refineries receive final approval

New regulations have received final approval strengthening workplace and environmental safety at oil refineries across California.

Developed by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), and the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), the regulations implement key recommendations of the Governor’s Interagency Working Group on Refinery Safety, created after the August 6, 2012 Chevron refinery fire.

The regulations make California refineries safer for both workers and surrounding communities.

“California now leads the nation in protecting the safety and health of refinery workers and people in nearby communities,” said David M. Lanier, Secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

The new regulations changes Cal/OSHA worker safety regulations as they apply to refineries and the California Accidental Release Prevention Program (CalARP).

“These new regulations increase overall preparedness, provide greater accountability and implement a nation-leading approach to public safety and emergency prevention at refineries,” said California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci.

“The goal of these regulations is to hold refineries accountable for the safety of the workers and communities,” said Matthew Rodriguez, California Secretary for Environmental Protection.

“Thanks to input from refinery workers, industry leaders and environmental and community organizations, we can better anticipate problems and prevent accidents that might pose serious risks to the public and environment.”

Key features of the regulations include:

  • Increased employer accountability for the mechanical integrity of refinery equipment
  • Requirements to adopt inherently safer designs and systems to the greatest extent feasible
  • Increased employee involvement in all aspects of the safety and prevention program
  • Periodic workplace safety culture assessments to evaluate whether management is appropriately emphasizing safety over production pressures
  • Authority for refinery personnel to shut down a unit, if needed, in the event of an unsafe condition or emergency and provisions for anonymous reporting of safety hazards
  • Requirements for investigations to determine root causes of any incidents that occur and develop interim and permanent corrective measures in response
  • Annual public reporting of refinery safety metrics under CalARP