The Rules they are a-Changin’

The Rules they are a-Changin’

As Bob Dylan wrote:

If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

In today’s world of PSM/RMP compliance, the rules and regulations are doing just that. There are constant tweaks and edits, roll-backs, and new initiatives. The reasonings range from well-known incidents to political leaders promises. No matter the reason, as a PSM leader you need to be on top of the most up to date compliance to avoid headache, fines, and possibly jail time should something go awry. I sat down with Lauren Rucinski, associate attorney at Kean Miller to discuss the challenges faced by safety departments and how to stay up to date.

Q: Where are the biggest gaps that your team normally sees when dealing with compliance?

A: Definitely dealing with RMP. Most facilities focus heavily on PSM and do not make sure they are keeping up with the nuances of RMP, which is designed to protect the community and environment.

Q: What new changes should sites be looking out for?

A: There are sweeping changes to RMP regulations with the new presidential administration. This is a proposed rollback of President Obama-era regulations dealing with STAA (Safer Technology and Alternative Analysis), 3rd party auditing, Root cause analysis for incident investigations, supervisor training, and information availability to the public.     

Q: What should facilities do when a proposed rule change is coming, and they are in the midst of complying with the current regulation?

A: Continue to implement the regulation as it is written. If a facility counts on the rollback and stops updating their systems, they may be subject to timing issues should the rollback or change not get passed.

Q: Is there a common thread you find with companies who stay on top of compliance?

A: Yes, normally this is when a company has a dedicated compliance department or compliance specialist. Some other strategies we have seen are to subscribe to federal regulation alerts or blogs put out by organizations on rules changes.  

Q: How quickly do companies need to react to these changes?

A: That all depends on how expansive the change is, but there is typically a grace period documented in the change alert. Additionally, information can be found in the federal registry, state registry, or local records.

Q: How difficult is the process of finding federal, state, and local records?

A: Our team can fairly easily pull federal and state records from the accompanied registries. This can greatly expedite the process for our clients. Local records are a bit trickier as they can be spread over multiple resources, but we have experience helping with those as well. Once pulled, our real value is that these regulations are normally written as a legal document. This coupled with institutional knowledge from prior precedents help us ensure compliance.  


In summary, it can be complex and time-consuming to stay up to date with the latest regulations. If practical, the ideal model would be to have a dedicated specialist, with an internal team or trusted consultancy team to implement changes. Additionally, having a law team to help with past precedents and interpretations can go a long way to ensure that your site is compliant and most of all, safe. Should you have any additional questions you can contact our team at www.bearps.com or the Kean Miller team at www.keanmiller.com. Lauren works in conjunction with Lee Vail whose team has 30+ years of experience in environmental compliance and process safety management.