OSHA Hazardous Chemical Source Sites

Monday, October 28, 2013 @ 03:10 PM gHale


There are now two new web resources to assist companies keeping their workers safe from occupational exposures to the thousands of hazardous chemicals used in the workplace every day, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

While there are chemicals suspected of being harmful, OSHA’s exposure standards are out-of-date and inadequately protective for the small number of chemicals regulated in the workplace.

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The first resource OSHA released Thursday is a toolkit to identify safer chemicals to use in place of more hazardous ones. This toolkit walks employers and workers step-by-step through information, methods, tools and guidance to either eliminate hazardous chemicals or make informed substitution decisions in the workplace by finding a safer chemical, material, product or process. Click here for the toolkit.

“We know that the most efficient and effective way to protect workers from hazardous chemicals is by eliminating or replacing those chemicals with safer alternatives whenever possible,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

OSHA created another new web resource: The Annotated Permissible Exposure Limits, or annotated PEL tables, which will enable employers to voluntarily adopt newer, more protective workplace exposure limits. OSHA’s PELs set mandatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air to protect workers against the health effects of certain hazardous chemicals; and OSHA will continue to enforce those mandatory PELs. Since OSHA’s adoption of the majority of its PELs more than 40 years ago, new scientific data, industrial experience and developments in technology show in many instances these mandatory limits are not sufficiently protective of workers’ health.

“There is no question that many of OSHA’s chemical standards are not adequately protective,” Michaels said. “I advise employers, who want to ensure that their workplaces are safe, to utilize the occupational exposure limits on these annotated tables, since simply complying with OSHA’s antiquated PELs will not guarantee that workers will be safe.”

The annotated PEL tables provide a side-by-side comparison of OSHA PELs for general industry to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health PELs, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommended exposure limits, and American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist threshold limit values. They offer an accessible reference source for up-to-date workplace exposure limits.



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