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published on

September 2023

In industries where the daily risks of potentially catastrophic events, such as vapor cloud explosions, are a constant concern, there’s no room for compromise – inherently safer design principles, effective hazard identifications and analyses, and adherence to up-to-date industry standards aren’t just important, they’re essential.

Since its establishment in 1919, the American Petroleum Institute (API) has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to safety and excellence, pioneering standards and recommended practices (RPs) that are pivotal in enhancing various industries’ operational safety, environmental stewardship, efficiency, and sustainability.

In this blog, we will explore the significance of API-recommended practices, with a particular focus on API RPs 752, 753, and 756, each of which is due for an update in 2023.

To assist companies in staying current with these evolving standards and understanding their implications, BakerRisk will offer a comprehensive series of webinars and white papers in the upcoming months. These resources will provide in-depth insights, ensuring you’re well-equipped to navigate the shifting landscape of industry standards.

What are API Standards?

For over 90 years, the API has led the development of safety standards for petroleum, natural gas, and petrochemical standards, serving as a resource of expertise and guidance. These standards aren’t simply a collection of rules but a culmination of the industry’s wisdom rooted in sound engineering and operating practices. These standards draw on years of experience to establish a bedrock of consistent, reliable, and practical guidance across a broad range of industries.

The API maintains over 800 standards and recommended practices, each of which is crucial in safeguarding operations, personnel, and the environment. They form a common language and a sturdy framework, fostering safety, preserving our ecological surroundings, and elevating operational expertise. In fact, many of these standards have seamlessly integrated into state and federal regulations and are the most widely cited standards within the global regulatory community.

Adherence to API Standards signifies more than just compliance; it represents a commitment to responsible practices, a dedication to maintaining the highest standards of safety, and an unwavering contribution to building a more secure and sustainable industry.

A factory falling under the compliance requirements of API 752/753/756

API Recommended Practices 752, 753, & 756: An Overview

API Recommended Practices 752, 753, and 756 are focal points of our facility siting work here at BakerRisk, as our expertise informs their creation, and they, in turn, inform our future projects involving how to manage risks from process-related explosion, fire, and toxic hazards. In the realm of hazard identification, consequence/risk analysis, and mitigation, these recommended practices provide an essential foundation and guidance for our daily efforts, aiding in the prevention and reduction of consequences and risks from process hazards.

While these three standards are similar and have the same guiding principles, they are unique in their focus on protecting people in different structures. API RP-752 focuses on permanent and portable buildings other than light wood trailers intended for perpetual use in specific, fixed locations. API RP-753 focuses on light wood trailers and portable buildings that are intended to be movable and not for perpetual use in a specific, fixed location. Finally, API RP-756 focuses on tents. API RP 752 provides detailed guidance on explosion and fire hazards, factors influencing VCEs and fires, VCE modeling tools, and building/occupant vulnerability analysis and design tools. API RPs 753 and 756 include a distinction for essential versus non-essential personnel since portable buildings and tents may undergo a different level of review than permanent buildings in their siting, design, and emergency response considerations, are portable and thus, can be sited at different locations or relocated easier than permanent buildings, and could cause an increased burden on emergency response.

Nevertheless, these standards are designed to work harmoniously, providing a comprehensive risk management strategy that encompasses structures that are used within facilities. By implementing them appropriately and collectively, companies can ensure that buildings and tents are sited appropriately, mitigated, if necessary, and, most importantly, ensure their workforce is well-protected.

The Need for Change: Facility Siting Regulations Evolution

As the industry evolves, so must the standards that govern it. The API recognizes the importance of adapting to new challenges, emerging technologies, and ever-changing regulatory requirements, and, though it should go without saying, the need for updates in API standards, including those of API Standards 752, 753, and 756, stems not from a need to replace inadequate, outdated standards but from the desire to enhance safety, streamline operations, and ensure compliance with the latest industry developments.

This evolution results from collective efforts, with input from regulatory bodies, stakeholders, and industry experts, including BakerRisk. It reflects a commitment to continuous improvement and provides a proactive approach to risk management designed to serve the business and safety needs of every subcommittee, task group, and industry participant affected.

The FORTRESS Protective Building, also referred to as a precast concrete multi-hazard resistant building, helps companies comply with API RP-752 due to its high hazard resistance

Preparing for Change: How to Adapt to Changes in API Standards

As the API gears up to release an update to RPs 752, 753, and 756 later this year, it’s essential for businesses and industries that frequently rely on these standards to approach this transition proactively. While these updates may not introduce significant overhauls to the foundational principles or assessment methods, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. Adapting to these refined standards; it’s a strategic move to enhance safety and operational efficiency.

Here’s a pragmatic checklist to consider:

  1. Familiarize: Understand the specific changes within the updated standards.
  2. Assess: Evaluate your existing practices and pinpoint gaps and areas that require alignment.
  3. Implement Best Practices: Embrace the best practices recommended by API Standards.
  4. Engage Experts: Collaborate with hazard assessment and risk management firms like BakerRisk to ensure a seamless transition.
  5. Stay Informed: Remain aware of industry shifts and regulatory updates.

In addition to these steps, our dedicated team at BakerRisk is committed to providing valuable resources. Our webinar and best practices documents will shed further light on the updates and the potential impact on your operations. For more information on these resources, contact BakerRisk today.

Elevating Risk Management with BakerRisk

API Recommended Practices 752, 753, and 756 are the cornerstones of facility siting safety. They set the gold standard for risk management, creating a safe environment for operations while safeguarding the well-being of people.

As the updated API standards approach, we invite you to participate in our and delve into our comprehensive white paper series. These resources will provide in-depth insights to help you navigate the changes and elevate the overall safety and efficiency of your operations. Contact BakerRisk today for one-on-one expert guidance and services like Facility Siting Studies and Quantitative Risk Assessments to help your organization implement these new industry updates in the most practical and efficient ways possible.