Does This Apply To You?

iSi can help determine which of these options apply to your facility, and help you make sure you’re on the right track in getting the necessary documentation and processes in place.

In our blog, we’ve looked at OSHA’s General Duty Clause, including issues that are commonly cited under the General Duty Clause.  Did you know that EPA has a General Duty Clause too?

Who Does It Apply To?

The EPA General Duty Clause can be found in the Clean Air Act, Section 112(r)(1).  It states companies that produce, process, handle or store hazardous substances/chemicals have a primary duty to identify release hazards and prevent chemical accidents.

If your company doesn’t fall under EPA’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) requirements, you will fall under EPA’s General Duty Clause.

General Duty Clause vs. RMP

If you produce, process, handle or store hazardous substances/chemicals, you will need to comply with either the EPA General Duty Clause or RMP, based on your operations.

The requirements for RMP can also be found in this same Clean Air Act Section 112(r) as the General Duty Clause, and it also applies to the same types of facilities who use hazardous chemicals.  However, RMP is focused on one or more of 140 targeted toxic or flammable chemicals that have the potential to be released at certain threshold quantities.  Some examples of the 140 chemicals included are ammonia, chlorine, propane, formaldehyde and sulfur dioxide.

RMPs are directly submitted to EPA.  Water treatment plants, agricultural COOPs and chemical manufacturers are typical types of companies who need to comply with RMP.

RMPs must include:

  • Potential effects of a chemical accident
  • Hazard assessments
  • 5-year accident history
  • Evaluation of worst-case scenarios and alternative accident release potentials
  • Prevention programs that include safety precautions, maintenance, monitoring, and employee training measures
  • Emergency response program that lists emergency health care, employee training measures, procedures for informing the public.

 What is Required by EPA’s General Duty Clause?

In an EPA inspection, the inspector can ask your company to produce information to show you are complying with the General Duty Clause.  To be compliant, companies are required to address the following 3 topics, with examples for each.

1.  Identify hazards which could occur if an accidental release happens.

  • Identification of related environmental, health and safety hazards
  • Identification of potential release scenarios through experience/industry research, analysis and logic trees, or “What If” brainstorming
  • Determine the consequences in each scenario

2.  Design and maintain a safe facility. (By putting features such as these in place:)

  • Design safety codes
  • Use of less hazardous chemicals when possible
  • Equipment quality control procedures,
  • Using alternate processes
  • Process siting
  • Using safety technology where possible
  • Standard Operating Procedures
  • Employee training
  • Change management
  • Incident investigation programs
  • Self audits
  • Preventative maintenance programs

3.  Determine potential consequences of accidental releases and minimize them.

  • Development of an Emergency Response Plan that contains, at a minimum: anticipated releases, mitigation, notification process to local responders and local responder involvement
  • Coordination with local emergency response officials including the local emergency planning committee
  • Training for “out of the norm” circumstances
  • Periodic exercises using your plan, training, and equipment practicing response, evacuation, sheltering-in-place, and worker’s ability to perform in the event of an emergency

Inspectors will also be looking into the thoroughness of your process hazard analyses, your evaluations, and the elements you’ve put into place, and whether or not they apply to your current operations.

Which One Applies to Your Facility?

Because the RMP is specific to certain chemicals and thresholds, all companies with the potential for accidental chemical releases may not fall under its requirements.  However, if RMP does not apply to your company, then the EPA General Duty Clause will.  

Which one applies to your facility?  Have you completed all the necessary analyses required? Do you have all the programs, processes and training in place?  If the answer to any of these questions is no, then iSi can help.  Contact us today for more information.

Curtis Leiker, CSP
Curtis Leiker, CSP


Curtis Leiker, CSP

Certified Safety Professional |  ISO 45001 and 14001 Lead Auditor

Curtis Leiker, CSP is a project manager at iSi Environmental. Besides assisting companies with ISO 14001 and 45001 implementation, Curtis manages environmental and safety programs, reporting and compliance issues for aviation, general industry and agricultural facilities. He’s able to see the big picture, but focus on the details and enjoys working to solve EHS issues.

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Does this apply to your company?  Do you have questions?  Contact us!

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