Following tragic events such as the 1984 Bhopal, India incident as well as several high-profile industrial accidents around the United States in the late 1980's and early 1990's, amendments to the Clean Air Act (CAA) were enacted into law on November 15, 1990. Section 304 of the CAA required the Secretary of Labor, in coordination with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to promulgate, pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, a chemical process safety standard to prevent accidental releases of chemicals that could pose a threat to employees.
On May 26, 1992, 29 CFR Part 1910.119 – Process Safety Management (PSM) of Highly Hazardous Chemicals, became effective. The purpose of this Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard is to establish requirements for preventing or minimizing the consequences of catastrophic releases of toxic, reactive, flammable or explosive chemicals. To protect the public and environment beyond the regulated facilities' property lines, the EPA promulgated the Risk Management Rule (49 CFR Part 68) in 1996. The EPA and OSHA standards are performance based and are very similar in nature but have some differences. In simple terms, the OSHA PSM Standard is intended to protect employees. The EPA Risk Management Program (RMP) regulation is intended to protect the public and the environment. Both standards require a compliance audit at least once every three (3) years.