October 31, 2013
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched two new web resources to assist companies with keeping their workers safe from exposure to hazardous chemicals.
The first resource is a toolkit to identify safer chemicals that can be used in place of more hazardous ones. It walks employers and workers step-by-step through information, methods, tools, and guidance to eliminate hazardous chemicals or 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.
The second web resource is the annotated permissible exposure limits (PEL) tables, which will enable employers to voluntarily adopt newer, more protective workplace exposure limits. The tables set mandatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air to protect workers against the health effects of certain hazardous chemicals, and OSHA will continue to enforce those mandatory PELs.
"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."