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Contingency Planning.
Does it make sense?

by Larry Hands  

If your facility manages its operations to stay just under the thresholds that would require process safety management (PSM) or under EPAís Clean Air Act 112r risk management planning (RMP) are you home free? Is it appropriate for your facility to look at its operation to see where there is the possibility of adversely affecting your employees or your neighbors, even though the government doesnít explicitly require it? Does it make good business sense to search out potential liabilities and control for them? 

Your company has a contingency plan in case a computer hard drive crashes.  Your company understands that hard drives crash.  Does the government require you to have this plan? 

Does your company have comparable contingency plans for environmental and safety incidents? Do you look at materials that are close to the regulatory thresholds? What about someone that uses a high concentration of a certain acid in its operation but is not quite subject to RMP.  Should this company be aware and manage the risk of dealing with this material? What if the storage container was at the fence line, next to a school playground? What if the container wasnít diked? Could there be a spill? Could this lower concentration still affect neighbors if it were to spill? Could it affect employees?  The company is not subject to the rule. Should the company skip the steps to properly manage this risk?   

Both PSM and RMP include a general duty clause that requires facilities to manage risk, independent of whether they meet the threshold amounts. The enforcement section uses these general duty clauses to Monday-morning quarterback incidents after the fact. What should a company have done, but didnít?  Independent of the regulatory framework, Hands & Associates, Inc. advises facilities to manage environmental and safety risks as a normal part of doing business.