OSHA Seeks Input on Chemical Exposure, PELs

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The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a national dialogue with stakeholders on ways to prevent work-related illness caused by exposure to hazardous substances.

It has requested information on the management of exposures in the workplace and strategies for updating permissible exposure limits. The goal is to give stakeholders a forum to develop innovative, effective approaches to improve the health of workers in the US. The 180-day comment period runs through April 2015.

OSHA’s PELs, which are regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air, are intended to protect workers against the adverse health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. Ninety-five percent of OSHA’s current PELs, which cover fewer than 500 chemicals (a small fraction of the chemicals used today), have not been updated since their adoption in 1971. Suggestions are needed for possible streamlined approaches for risk assessment and feasibility analyses, as well as alternative approaches for managing chemical exposures, including control banding, task-based approaches and informed substitution.

OSHA soon will announce additional ways for members of the public to participate in the conversation. Instructions for submitting comments are available in the Federal Register, Docket No. OSHA-2012-0023.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.