- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Under CAA Section 112(r), owners or operators of facilities that produce, handle, process or store any "extremely hazardous toxic and flammable substance" listed in 40 C.F.R. Section 68.130 in an amount above the "threshold planning quantity" specified for that substance are required to develop and implement a risk management program (RMP). The goal of the RMP is to prevent accidental releases of substances that can cause serious harm to the public and the environment from short-term exposures and to mitigate the severity of releases that do occur. Facilities regulated under the RMP generally must:
- Develop and implement a RMP and maintain documentation of the program at the site. The RMP must include an analysis of the potential offsite consequences of a worst-case accidental release, a five-year accident history, a release prevention program, and emergency planning.
- Develop and submit a risk management plan to EPA.
- Implement the RMP and update plans periodically or when certain process or other changes occur.
EPA's interim guidance provided little detail on how EPA inspectors are to engage employees in the inspections. The two-page document stated that CAA Section 112(r) provides employees and employee representatives with the same rights to participate in EPA CAA Section 112(r) inspections as are authorized under the OSH Act. Section 112(r) was largely fashioned by Congress to reflect the OSH Act and EPA's RMP rules reflect similar requirements under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) safety management standard. Although the interim guidance provided no specifics with respect to how employees or employee representatives can or should participate in inspections, the guidance referenced OSHA's regulations that do detail such procedures. One can thus presume that EPA inspectors will use the OSHA regulations as a guidepost in how to involve employees in RMP inspections until EPA issues final guidance on this issue. Those provisions, codified at 29 C.F.R. Section 1903.8, generally allow employees to be questioned by inspectors and to accompany the inspector on the site evaluation, provided the inspector believes the employee "will further aid the inspection." The OSHA provisions also allow an inspector to deny an employee to participate in the inspection if it appears that the employee may interfere with a fair and orderly inspection.
The EPA is developing final guidance to implement the Section 112(r) provision, and stated that it plans to issue the final guidance later this year. Until the guidance is issued in final, the agency directs inspectors to use OSHA's Field Operations Manual as a guide and reference tool. The manual can be accessed online.