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1-10 Codes, Standards, and Regulations

Codes, standards, and regulations are an important part of chemical process safety.

  • A code is a set of recommendations developed by a team of knowledgeable people, who are most likely to be associated with an industrial professional organization. Codes do not have legal authority, but governments might adopt one by turning it into law.

  • A standard is more elaborate, explaining in a lot more detail how to meet the code. That is, codes tell you what you need to do, and standards tell you how to do it. Standards do not carry the weight of legal authority, but governments might adopt them by turning them into laws.

  • A regulation is developed by a government and has legal authority. It may be based on a code or standard. Violations of regulations could result in fines and/or jail time.

Table 1-16 lists a number of regulations, codes, and standards important to process safety in the United States.

Table 1-16 Selected Regulations, Codes, and Standards That Apply to the Chemical Industry


U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), www.osha.gov

29 CFRa 1910.119 Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Materials

This applies to manufacturing sites when on-site inventories of chemicals exceed the threshold values provided in the regulation. A prevention program involving 14 elements must be maintained.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), www.epa.gov

40 CFR 68 Risk Management Programs (RMP)

This applies to releases of toxic or flammable materials that could have off-site impacts. If chemicals exceed threshold quantities, a consequence analysis must be completed to estimate off-site impacts.A prevention program involving 11 elements must be maintained.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), www.dhs.gov

6 CFR 27 Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS)

This establishes risk-based performance standards for the security of chemical facilities. An online Chemical Security Assessment Tool must be completed to identify the company’s security tier. Each tier has chemical security requirements.


National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), www.nfpa.org

NFPA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC)

NFPA 101: Life Safety Code

American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), www.asme.org

ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code


National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), www.nfpa.org

NFPA 45: Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals

NFPA 68: Standard on Explosion Venting by Deflagration Venting

NFPA 69: Standard on Explosion Prevention Systems

NFPA 652: Standard on the Fundamentals of Dust Explosions

American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), www.astm.org

ASTM D93: Standard Test Methods for Flash Point by Pensky-Martens Closed Cup Tester

ASTM E681-09 Standard Test Method for Concentration Limits of Flammability of Chemicals (Gases and Vapors)

American Petroleum Institute (API), www.api.org

API Recommended Practice 521: Selection and Installation of Pressure Relieving Devices in Refineries

API Recommended Practice 754: Process Safety Performance Indicators for the Refining and Petrochemical Industries

International Electrochemical Commission (IEC), www.iec.ch

IEC 61511: Safety Instrumented Systems for the Process Industry Sector

Codes, standards, and regulations vary considerably between countries around the world. This creates challenges for engineers in one country who are designing a plant to operate in another country, or even for shipping chemicals from one country to another. Codes, standards, and regulations also change with time.

In the United States, OSHA and EPA use the codes and standards as a basis for Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices (RAGAGEP). RAGAGEP means that each plant site must keep its facility up to date with respect to codes and standards that apply to that plant, even though these codes and standards do not have regulatory authority. RAGAGEP is a complex regulatory and legal issue, well beyond the scope of this book.

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Last Update: November 17, 2020