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Prepare operations with a PSSR checklist

Protect personnel, processes, and profits by using a pre-startup safety review checklist.

What is a PSSR checklist?

A Pre-Startup Safety Review checklist, or short PSSR checklist, is used to ensure a new or modified facility – such as a factory or manufacturing plant – is ready to go into production safely. The PSSR team will use an OSHA Pre-Startup Safety Review checklist before the plant is opened for the first time or reopened after alterations or additions have been made to the facility.

Also known as an Operational Readiness Review, the inspection team needs to ascertain five essential facts during the PSSR process:

  • The facility is safe for employees
  • The plant meets the original design specifications
  • Equipment has been installed correctly and is operating as specified
  • All employees, managers, and safety personnel have undergone thorough training on all systems and know what to do in an emergency
  • The facility meets with all OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health) requirements relevant to the industry

In this article, the following points are explained:

1. Why is a pre-startup safety review checklist so important?

2. Step by step guide to PSSR checklists

3. Example PSSR checklist

4. A digital tool for your PSSR checklist

Why is a pre-startup safety review checklist so important?

1. Safety

The single most important goal of a PSSR checklist is to help avoid work accidents that can result in serious injury or even death for workers. History is littered with horrific incidents caused by equipment failure or human error. The Bhopal disaster, for example, led to the death of 16,000 people.

This is why making sure all staff have been properly trained is a core component of OSHA’s pre-startup safety review checklist. While it’s impossible to predict every potential scenario or equipment breakdown, the PSSR aims to reduce that risk as much as possible.

2. Profitability and performance

Over and above this, a PSSR checklist is also a valuable tool from a business perspective. When new or cutting-edge equipment is installed, the PSSR can ensure that equipment does what it should. When hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars have been invested in new facilities, it’s vital that they can deliver what was promised.

In addition, making sure that workers are properly trained on new equipment and processes. Also, improve their performance and the facility’s efficiency as a whole.

3. Legal obligations

In the US, PSSRs fall under OSHA’s PSM (Process Safety Management) program, specifically, OSHA 29 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 1910.119(I). To comply with PSM regulations, a PSSR is required, especially in the case of hazardous chemicals or materials.

Step by step guide to PSSR checklists

In order to make the process as simple as possible, the pre-startup safety review checklist has been broken down into five main steps:

  1. HAZOP study and report
  2. Put together a PSSR team
  3. Follow-up HAZOP review
  4. Documentation review
  5. Technical site review

Remember that the primary overarching goals of the PSSR are to ensure that:

  • The facility has been built in accordance with design specifications
  • EHS (Environment, Health & Safety) and emergency procedures are in place and adequate for the industry’s needs
  • All process equipment and machinery has been installed in accordance with design specifications
  • Every employee has been adequately trained in operational and safety protocols
  • All required process and safety documentation is on file and up-to-date


Before the PSSR commences, a HAZOP (Hazard and Operability) study should be conducted. This involves examining all the current and new processes performed at the facility to identify and evaluate potential risks to personnel or equipment.

This points the PSSR team in the right direction and forms the backbone of a tailored PSSR checklist.


To work effectively, the PSSR needs to include representatives from multiple disciplines within the organization. Normally, this means staff from engineering, quality control, security, health and safety, and operations.

The team leader should be someone with an excellent overall knowledge of all these fields, who has the authority to implement changes and halt construction/installation if a risk is discovered.


Once the HAZOP study has been concluded, any equipment or processes which were flagged as potentially unsafe must be remedied before the PSSR continues. The team’s first job at this stage is to follow up on those changes and make sure all recommendations have been actioned. It’s also crucial that all these actions are thoroughly documented.


Next, the PSSR team needs to ensure that all of the following documents are available and in good order:

  • Emergency protocols and procedures
  • Operating manuals and procedures
  • Fire Protection drawings
  • Process Safeguarding memorandum
  • List of all site modifications since the original HAZOP study
  • Area classification drawings, plot Plans, and engineering and utility flow schemes (if applicable)
  • Operation checklists on safety equipment
  • Detailed instructions on handling of hazardous chemicals
  • Any industry-specific documents, such as safety validations for food and beverage production


Finally, a thorough field evaluation and site inspection need to be performed. This is usually done just before the facility is about to open (or reopen in the case of modifications or additions).

Example PSSR checklist

Some examples of items which might appear on your PSSR checklist include:

1. Personnel Safety

  • Are safety showers and eyewash stations easily accessible? (in the case of chemical plants)
  • Has an a href=”” target=”_blank”>inspection by the business’s insurance company been conducted/scheduled?
  • Has a fire and safety inspection been performed?
  • Has appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) been provided?
  • Have all employees received adequate training on new machinery/processes, and has this training been documented?
  • Is an emergency alarm in place, and have evacuation plans been drawn up and shared?

2. Equipment and Machinery Safety

  • Have slip and fall hazards been eliminated wherever possible?
  • Can maintenance workers easily access parts of machinery which require regular checks?
  • Are appropriate safety barriers in place where necessary?
  • Are emergency stop buttons easily accessible and highly visible?
  • Have maintenance personnel been trained?
  • Are quality control procedures in place for parts and spares?
  • Are live electrical units properly contained?

3. Worker comfort

  • Is adequate lighting available?
  • Can repetitive tasks be performed in comfort and without straining?
  • Are adequate ventilation and heating/cooling facilities in place?
  • Has the need to lift or move heavy loads been removed wherever possible?

4. Review and Documentation

  • Has a Change of Design (COD) or Management of Change (MOC) document been approved?
  • Has a final safety report been prepared?
  • Have quality assurance checks been completed and documented?

5. Environmental checks

  • Have all applicable environmental guidelines been adhered to?
  • Are all permits up to date and approved?
  • Have adequate arrangements been made for safe storage/disposal of waste materials/production by-products?

A digital tool for your PSSR checklist

A PSSR checklist is a helpful tool for preventing workplace accidents and maintaining workflow. Traditionally, checklists are used in paper format, but they are very mistake-prone. They also make reporting and evaluation difficult. Actually, this is no longer necessary today. Lumiform, an app and desktop software for audits and inspections, offers you the possibility to digitize your PSSR checklists, and these are not the only advantages that a digital tool offers you:

  • Use one of our ready-to-use PSSR checklists from the Lumiform template library or design a new one using the flexible form builder.
  • Enable your PSSR teams to conduct efficient pre-startup safety reviews using a smartphone or tablet.
  • Capture photos of safety issues and take notes on each item within the PSSR checklist.
  • Assign corrective actions from the app and track their status via your dashboard.
  • Save time and effort on documentation with automatically generated reports.
  • Store all reports online and share them automatically within the PSSR team.
  • Schedule your inspections with the app to comply with industry standards and regulatory requirements.
  • Analyze your results in the desktop software to identify trends in your facility’s safety early.

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