Refinery Pays $378k Penalty for RMP Violations

Hazardous substances of concern used at the refinery include large quantities of propane, butane, and flammable hydrocarbon mixtures. Under the Clean Air Act, facilities that utilize hazardous and flammable substances above specified thresholds must develop and submit a risk management plan (RMP) to assist with emergency preparedness, chemical release prevention, and minimization of releases that occur. In June 2010, EPA inspectors found that the facility had not adequately implemented those regulations.

RMP Training

Employees working in a process with a listed substance over threshold quantities must be trained or tested to be competent in the operating practices and procedures for that process. Training should take place at the start of employment and when a new process or procedure is introduced.

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Facilities that run only Program 1 process operations are not required to provide RMP training.

Training for Program 2 and Program 3 processes must include initial start-up, normal operations, temporary operations, emergency shutdown, emergency operations, normal shutdown, start-up following a normal or emergency shutdown or a major change that requires a hazard review, consequences of deviations, steps to correct or avoid deviations, and equipment inspections.

Employers are not required to provide a specific amount of training or training delivery method. The employer must, however, ensure that each worker that is trained has understood the training and is competent to operate the process safely. The employer is required to report in the RMP on the type of training required (e.g., classroom or on-the-job) and the type of competency testing used.

Credit for previous experience. For those employees who have operated a process since June 21, 1999, the employer may certify in writing that the employee already has the required skills and knowledge to do the job.

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Recordkeeping for RMP Training

In the RMP, employers must report on the date of the most recent review or revision of the training program. The employer is required to report on the type of training required (e.g., classroom or on-the-job) and the type of competency testing used.

Keep on site any current training materials or schedules used. The facility owner or operator must record the identity of each employee trained, the date of training, and the means used to verify that the employee understood the training.  Typically, it is enough to have on site information that supports what is reported in the RMP and an attendance log for any formal training courses and refresher training to ensure that everyone who needs to be trained is trained. Such logs will help the employer perform a compliance audit or demonstrate compliance with the rule.

For employees who were already involved in operating the process before June 21, 1999, employers should maintain copies of the written certifications that such employees have the required knowledge, skills, and abilities to safely carry out the duties and responsibilities of the operating procedures.

See tomorrow’s Advisor for the specifics on training for Program 2 Prevention and Program 3 Prevention.