Within the process safety management standard, section 1910.119(c) mandates employee participation in the elaboration of safety plans. The section states: “Employers shall consult with employees and their representatives on the conduct and development of process hazards analyses and on the development of the other elements of process safety management in this standard.” (29 CFR 1910.119 c) Despite this language the extent and methods of employee consultation are not described in the regulation. Buttressing employee participation in hazard management could be an effective organizational strategy for implementing inherently safer design in facilities with high risk for hazardous events, and warrants further research.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

EPA policy has considered the possibility of inherently safer processes at least since the early 2000s, but measures regarding chemical accident prevention have tended to focus on prior planning and “inspection and to corrective and preventive maintenance” (Ashford and Zwetsloot, 1999). Therefore, the concept of safety planning is far from new, but the far-reaching ramifications of inherently safer processes appear to require a greater degree of planning and technological investment than do traditional safety strategies that tend to be “failsafe” rather than “foolproof” (Ashford and Zwetsloot, 1999).

The difficulties of implementing inherently safer design can be observed in the EPA Risk Management Program (RMP) (EPA, 2001), which is still intentionally more oriented to risk management than risk prevention (Malloy, 2008), and as a policy matter does not mandate inherently safer processes. Nevertheless, companies dealing with hazardous chemicals must develop accident prevention plans during hazard emergency response planning, but this policy does not extensively involve stakeholders outside of firms (CCPS, 2009).

Other pertinent regulations and laws include the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA), (which is not primarily directed at accidents) (Ashford and Caldhart, 2010), and the Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) (Malloy, 2008). The post-September 11 approach is particularly amenable to inherently safer design (CCPS, 2009), because the unpredictable nature of terrorist attacks may create challenges for traditional assessments based on internal production risks. However, regulatory bodies have tended to conclude that inherently safer design shifts rather than prevents risks (Malloy, 2008). This is an important critique that warrants further research, because of the possibility that inherently safer technology may lead to the reallocating of risk to other areas of the production process (Hendershot, 2010).

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