OSHA Launches a National Dialogue on Hazardous Chemical Exposures and Permissible Exposure Limits in the Workplace

OSHA is launching a national dialogue with stakeholders on ways to prevent work-related illness caused by exposure to hazardous substances. The first stage of this dialogue is a request for information on the management of hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace and strategies for updating permissible exposure limits.

“Many of our chemical exposure standards are dangerously out of date and do not adequately protect workers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “While we will continue to work on issuing and updating our workplace exposure limits, we are asking public health experts, chemical manufacturers, employers, unions and others committed to preventing workplace illnesses to help us identify new approaches to address chemical hazards.”

OSHA’s PELs, which are regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air, are intended to protect workers against the adverse health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. Ninety-five percent of OSHA’s current limits, which cover fewer than 500 chemicals, have not been updated since their adoption in 1971. The agency’s current PELs cover only a small fraction of the tens of thousands of chemicals in commerce, many of which are suspected of being harmful.

The comment period will close on April 8, 2015. In the coming months, OSHA will announce additional ways for the public to participate in the conversation. For more information, see the news release and visit OSHA’s Web page on preventing occupational illnesses through safer chemical management.

 

[Copied verbatim from OSHA Quick Takes, October 15, 2014, Volume 13, Issue 20]