The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a directive implementing a National Emphasis Program to help eliminate workplace hazards associated with the release of highly hazardous chemicals at petroleum refineries.

"OSHA remains committed to enhancing the safety and health of America's men and women working in the refining industry," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "By initiating this program, we are taking positive steps to maximize the protection of employees and eliminate workplace hazards at petroleum refineries."

Under this program, OSHA will conduct 81 inspections over the next two years. However, the program is just one of multiple significant enforcement projects in the oil, gas and refining industries on which OSHA is working.

OSHA also has two Regional Emphasis Programs operating in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico that focus on reducing workplace injuries and fatalities in the oil and gas well drilling, and petrochemical industries. Process Safety Management has been an OSHA priority for many years, and a number of emphasis programs have evolved as a result of this standard.

This National Emphasis Program will provide guidance to OSHA national, regional and area offices as well as states that choose to implement similar programs. The directive is available online at www.osha.gov/OshDoc/Directive_pdf/CPL_03-00-004.pdf.

For additional references to documents used for process safety in the refining and chemical industries, see OSHA's PSM Safety and Help Topics Web page at www.osha.gov/SLTC/processsafetymanagement/index.html. Topics include equipment design, in-service practices and other important aspects of process safety.