OSHA Seeks Input on PEL Process
OSHA has recently issued a request for information concerning its process for developing permissible exposure limits (PELs). As OSHA readily admits, case many of its PELs have not changed since first adopted in 1971 and no longer represent the current state of the art in worker protection. However, as discussed previously in this blog, OSHA faces a number of hurdles to promulgate a new PELs.
Its last significant effort was in 1989, check when OSHA issued a major revision of the PELs, but these values were overturned by the courts on procedural grounds. Since then, OSHA has been like many of us thinking about going to the gym, lots of good intentions but not much to show for it.
OSHA is currently reviewing its PEL development process and this request for information is looking at the nuts and bolts of the process. The information requested is quite detailed including questions such as the methodology of risk assessment and whether models should be used; use of information from other federal agencies and other countries (especially the EU REACH); feasibility of extrapolating data from high levels to low levels; using chemical properties to develop PELs for groups of compounds and use chemical structure-hazard relationships.
Overall, it is very encouraging that OSHA is taking a serious look at the PELs again, though this request for information is dealing with methodology and so OSHA is not at the PEL development state yet. Therefore, we should probably not expect any new PELs in the near term, but at least the exercise equipment in the regulatory gym is being readied for service again.
For those people who want more information:
Docket Number OSHA 2012-0023
Fed. Reg. Vol. 79, No. 197, Friday Oct 10th 2014.