OSHA has released two new Web-based resources to help better protect workers from hazardous chemicals: a step-by-step toolkit including information, methods, tools, and guidance on chemical substitution in the workplace, and an annotated occupational exposure limits (OELs) table that features OSHA’s existing Z-Tables alongside other OELs, including the Cal/OSHA permissible exposure limits (PELs), the NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limits (RELs), and the ACGIH Threshold Limit Values (TLV®s). The annotated PEL tables will enable employers to voluntarily adopt more protective exposure limits, OSHA stated in its press release, noting that in many instances the OSHA PELs are "not sufficiently protective of workers' health."
"There is no question that many of OSHA's chemical standards are not adequately protective," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "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."
AIHA® is encouraged by OSHA's decision to reopen the discussion on the agency's outdated PELs. In a statement, AIHA President Barbara Dawson supported OSHA's new efforts. “AIHA will do everything possible to see that this effort to recognize the problem of outdated PELs is a step forward by OSHA and the federal government to address this issue," she said. "Despite the limited resources of the agency and the long list of regulatory and enforcement concerns, Dr. Michaels recognized the importance of this issue to occupational safety and health, and we’re grateful to him for his leadership on this effort.”
The new resources are available on OSHA's website:
For more information, read OSHA's press release.