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Facility Siting

Last updated: August 2, 2018

What Does Facility Siting Mean?

Facility siting, in the context of occupational safety, refers to a form of hazard assessment that is used to characterize the level of risk present in workplaces involved in industrial processing (e.g. process manufacturing, waste management).

A facility siting assessment evaluates the potential damage that a workplace explosion, fire, or toxic chemical incident could cause to every occupied building in the work area. This form of evaluation allows for the risks posed by hazards to be evaluated according to their environmental context, so that specific risks faced by workers within a specific workplace can be fully understood.

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Safeopedia Explains Facility Siting

Facility siting is a continuous process that begins with an initial study, the results of which are then revalidated on a periodic basis in order to measure and manage the risk associated with any changes to the facility. The facility siting process is part of the mandatory Process Hazard Assessment (PHS) required by OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations. Revalidation of facility siting is required every five years under OSHA standard 1910.119.

The core purpose of a facility siting study (FSS) is to ensure that the risk faced by workers inside of a particular building is not greater than the risk faced by workers outside of it. In other words, facility siting is used to ensure that a particular part of a facility is not subject to a disproportionate burden of risk. Facility siting studies can be performed at the conception and design stages of a facility to minimize risk, as well as during the operations stage, in order to evaluate current risk and identify opportunities for risk mitigation.

Factors assessed by an FSS include the identification of potential hazards and the locations that are at risk from those hazards. This process involves hazard assessment activities such as measuring the spacing between hazards and workers, measuring the spacing between combustible material and ignition sources, and examining how the layout of a worksite might impact the ability of emergency services (e.g. firefighters) to access a particular part of the site should an emergency occur.

Facility siting is an OSHA requirement for the process industry; however, OSHA has not defined what particular assessment measures are necessary to meet that requirement. As such, recommended practices that have been developed through industry bodies such as the American Petroleum Institute (API) and Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) have come to form the basis of compliance with OSHA requirements. National Fire Protection Association requirements, such as rules for separation distances between buildings, are also relevant to the facility siting process.

The role of FSS as a compliance tool means that in situations where an FSS demonstrates that a hazard site exceeds statutory risk limits or recommended practice standards, employers will face significant obligations to implement hazard controls or alter work processes to reduce risk levels.


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