Assistant Secretary David Michaels Gives OSHA Update, Takes Questions

Posted June 18, 2012

In a special “Ask the Expert” session this morning at AIHce 2012, Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, gave an update on agency activities and took questions from the audience. Dr. Michaels discussed OSHA’s recent fall prevention campaign, heat safety campaign, the agency’s adoption of GHS, the promotion of injury and illness prevention programs, OSHA’s national emphasis program (NEP) for health care workers and more.

Dr. Michaels also spoke about improving OSHA’s permissible exposure limits (PELs). “The agency is doing something different,” he said. “We’re openly saying that some of our PELs are not adequate.” OSHA’s goal, Michaels said, is to ensure that occupational exposures are below any published limit to keep workers safe. The agency plans to release annotated PELs tables which will present other exposure limits, such as NIOSH recommended exposure limits (RELs) and ACGIH threshold limit values (TLVs).

“The big issue that we face, and that you face with us, is how to improve our PELs,” Michaels said.

Michaels mentioned that an OSHA position paper and request for information (RFI) regarding updating the PELs are scheduled for publication in late summer or early fall.

On AIHce 2012, Dr. Michaels said, “This meeting reminds us why we do this; we’re really about [workers]. I can’t think of any three organizations that are more closely linked [in this mission] than AIHA, ACGIH and OSHA.”