Good Ideas Welcome on OSHA's PELs

Updating the PELs is an important issue. OSHA’s RFI is broader than that, encompassing other strategies it could use to address workers’ exposures to hazardous chemicals.

Last year, OSHA issued a Request for Information on Chemical Management and Permissible Exposure Limits, thus taking action on a longstanding top priority for AIHA, industrial hygienists, and the safety profession in general. This was one more attempt to find a way to update the outdated PELs, some of which are sure to be discussed during presentations at the upcoming AIHce 2015 conference in Salt Lake City and the ASSE's Safety 2015 conference in Dallas the following week.

If there were some magic power or easy answer to solve this problem, OSHA administrators would have accomplished it decades ago. There may be no way to update them, aside from a succession of rulemaking efforts, each likely to be fought in the courts by manufacturing trade groups if OSHA manages to get to the final rule stage. But at least OSHA is asking stakeholders to weigh in, and now they have more time to respond.

The original comment deadline was April 8, 2015. OSHA recently granted six months of additional time, moving the deadline out to Oct. 10, 2015. The agency's announcement said that many stakeholders requested more time to develop their answers to the request.

Updating the PELs is an important issue. OSHA’s RFI is broader than that, encompassing other strategies it could use to address workers' exposures to hazardous chemicals. While it's unlikely to attract anything close to the 1.5 million comments submitted on the Bureau of Land Management's March 2015 proposed rule affecting hydraulic fracturing on public and American Indian lands, it deserves both our attention and our best efforts.

To submit a comment, visit www.regulations.gov and search for Docket No. OSHA-2012-0023-0001.


This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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