WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched two new web resources to assist companies with keeping workers safe.
In an effort to provide the most useful information on chemicals in the workplace, OSHA has created a toolkit to identify safer chemicals that can be used in place of more hazardous ones. The toolkit walks employers and workers step-by-step through information, methods, tools and guidance to either eliminate hazardous chemicals or to make informed substitution decisions in the workplace by finding a safer chemical, material, product or process. The toolkit is available at http://www.osha.gov/dsg/safer_chemicals/index.html.
OSHA also 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; 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 that 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,” said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “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 easily accessible reference source for up-to-date workplace exposure limits, which are available at http://www.osha.gov/dsg/annotated-pels/index.html.