PSM Auditing Dilemmas

Global Congress on Process Safety
2011 Global Congress on Process Safety
Global Congress on Process Safety
March 13, 2011 - 8:00pm

In most PSM audits, the audit team will face one or more situations that represent a dilemma. These dilemmas usually require the individual auditor and/or the audit team leader resolve the situation in the field. These ?on the fly? resolutions require both astute judgment and practical solutions that fit not only any governing PSM regulations or company's standards for PSM, but also how those mandatory requirements should be interpreted and applied to the specific operations and PSM program of the facility being audited. In general, there are no absolute correct answers to solving these dilemmas, although in some cases a resolution might seem obvious. Often, there is a good resolution, but many times such resolution would require adoption of a policy or practice that is not a compliance requirement. Even when the dilemma seems to represent a compliance issue, and its resolution clear-cut, there may be substantial flexibility to craft the resolution and correct the problem. Therefore, a single, common resolution or conclusion to these situations is not appropriate for all users, and the resolutions/conclusions presented in this paper should be carefully considered before being adopted. Examples of several of the dilemmas and their proposed resolutions that will be discussed in this paper include:

? The De-Minimis Sampling Issue: Is there a de-minimis level of sampled records below which missing or incomplete records should be considered a finding? ? The VPP Defense: A facility with overdue inspection and testing of a significant amount of equipment is a VPP Star facility. They have never been cited or threatened to be cited for overdue maintenance. The facility contact also states that the site has been an OSHA VPP Star site for nearly ten years, and the relationship with the local OSHA field office is excellent. ? Practices Not Institutionalized: The PSM related policy, procedure, or practice has been established and is being implemented on an ongoing basis by a single person. ? The Boundaries of PSM Programs is unclear or is governed by more than one regulation. ? Handling repeat findings. ? Just-in-Time Compliance: Procedures that are approved but not implemented just before or during the audit. ? Stretched Definition of ?Annual.? How is an annual (or any other periodic requirement) measured? ? What is ?Timely? and how is it measured? ? Reconciling and crediting divergence of verbal opinions. ? Dealing with Facility Pushback.

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