The Occupational Safety & Health Administration today announced two new resources to help control and minimize chemical exposure in the workplace. I wasn’t able to listen to the press conference and I haven’t had time to look at the web pages closely, but I thought they deserved a quick post of their own rather than folding them into tomorrow’s round up.
Transitioning to Safer Chemicals: A Toolkit for Employers and Workers
This appears to be a framework intended to guide employers through the process of identifying hazardous chemicals they want to replace and actually finding a replacement. The steps include links to non-OSHA tools such as the Chemical Hazard & Alternatives Toolbox and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Alternatives Assessments methodology.
Permissible Exposure Limits: Annotated Tables
I’ll let OSHA explain the background: “OSHA recognizes that many of its permissible exposure limits (PELs) are outdated and inadequate for ensuring protection of worker health. Most of OSHA’s PELs were issued shortly after adoption of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act in 1970, and have not been updated since that time.” Many people have despaired of OSHA ever updating its PELs, and OSHA is clearly not optimistic on that front, either. What the agency did here is annotate its PEL tables to include California’s PELs, NIOSH’s recommended exposure limits, and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists recommendations. The limits set by these organizations reflect more recent science and are likely to better protect workers. They’re not legally binding, but OSHA now recommends using them (if you’re in California, of course, you must follow Cal/OSHA PELs).
Update: My colleague Cheryl Hogue covered the OSHA initiatives