Protecting Workers From Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals
Each year, tens of thousands of American workers are made sick or die from occupational exposures to hazardous chemicals. While many chemicals are suspected of being harmful, OSHA’s exposure standards are out-of-date and inadequately protective for the small number of chemicals that are regulated in the workplace. To help keep workers safe, OSHA has launched two new Web resources.
The first resource is a step-by-step toolkit to identify safer chemicals that can be used in place of more hazardous ones. The Transitioning to Safer Chemicals Toolkit (https://www.osha.gov/dsg/safer_chemicals/index.html) provides employers and workers with information, methods, tools, and guidance on using informed substitution in the workplace.
OSHA has also created another new Web resource: the Annotated Permissible Exposure Limits (https://www.osha.gov/dsg/annotated-pels/index.html), which will enable employers to voluntarily adopt newer, more protective workplace exposure limits. Since OSHA’s adoption of the majority of its PELs more than 40 years ago, new scientific data, industrial experience, and developments in technology clearly indicate that in many instances these mandatory limits are not sufficiently protective of workers’ health.
“From steel mills to hospitals, from construction sites to nail salons, hazardous chemical exposure is a serious concern for countless employers and workers in many, many industries, in every part of this nation,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “With these new resources, OSHA is making sure that all business owners have access to information on safer exposure limits and safer alternatives to help protect their workers and their bottom lines.”