Thursday, October 9, 2014

OSHA Seeks Public Input on Chemical Exposures

OSHA has launched a national dialogue on ways to prevent work-related illness caused by exposure to hazardous substances. The first stage of this dialogue is a request for information (RFI) on the management of hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace and strategies for updating permissible exposure limits (PELs). Click here to view a video of the announcement.

According to the agency, 95% of its current PELs have not been updated since their adoption in 1971. In addition, the PELs cover only a small fraction (fewer than 500) of the tens of thousands of chemicals used in commerce, many of which may pose harm. 

“Many of our chemical exposure standards are dangerously out of date and do not adequately protect workers,” explains OSHA Administrator David Michaels. “While we will continue to work on 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 is seeking public comment on current practices and future methods for updating PELs, as well as new strategies for better protecting workers from hazardous chemical exposures. Specifically, the agency requests suggestions on:
  • possible streamlined approaches for risk assessment and feasibility analyses
  • alternative approaches for managing chemical exposures, including control banding, task-based approaches and informed substitution. 
OSHA plans to announce additional ways for the public to participate in the conversation. The comment period for the RFI will continue for 180 days. Instructions for submitting comments posted on the Federal Register website. For more information, visit OSHA's Chemical Management RFI page.