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OSHA Releases New Resources to Help Employers Protect Workers from Hazardous Chemicals

F Marie Athey OHST

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F Marie Athey OHST | January 20, 2014 | Comments Off on OSHA Releases New Resources to Help Employers Protect Workers from Hazardous Chemicals

OSHA Releases New Resources to Help Employers Protect Workers from Hazardous Chemicals

I love free resources and here are two extremely useful new resources from OSHA.  This will definitely help employers guide their workers to avoid hazards and stay safe when handling chemicals. One is an online resource, Transitioning to Safer Chemicals Online Toolkit, which provides both employers and workers comprehensive information on hazard removal and chemical substitution; and the other is an Annotated Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) Table, which provides employers a guide of established PELs.

According to Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels, the table compares OSHA PELs with the accepted PELs established by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal- OSHA), and addresses the need for a clearer and better reference for recommended PELs.

Michaels noted that complying with the old established PELs–which had been established over four decades ago—will not ensure that workers will be safe. OSHA encourages employers to apply the recommended PELs voluntarily, until new OSHA PELs have been created. Per OSHA, Section 6(a) of the OSH Act allows OSHA to adopt and enforce Federal standards and national consensus standards to OSHA-covered industries. OSHA recognized that the PELs are in need of an update. Michaels said on his blog post on the Department of Labor website that the agency will be doing the best it can to come up with new ways to address this. “We recognize this and are developing new ways to approach the problem of workplace exposure to hazardous substances,” he said.

What about the online kit? What’s to expect from it? The kit features dedicated pages on the steps on how to transition to the use of safer chemicals (i.e. engage, inventory and prioritize, identify, assess and compare, select, test, evaluate), the basics of substitution, the benefits of transitioning to safer options, as well as success stories of firms that made the decision to address their needs for improved chemical handling and workplace safety.

Every year, over 190,000 workers get sick and 50,000 die from exposures to hazardous chemicals. According to OSHA, although many of these chemicals are recognized as harmful and are linked to certain kinds of degenerative diseases and cancers, only a few of these chemicals were being regulated at workplaces. Through the implementation of an effective chemical management system that combines the elimination of workplace hazards, and substituting those hazards with ones that are safer to use, workers need not be subjected to hazardous work conditions that may cost them their lives. is your leading source of workplace safety training and updates on safety mandates and techniques. Stay tuned for more of our blog posts. In the meantime, check out our previous blog posts relating to hazardous chemicals and materials handling:

The Role of a Chemical Hygiene Plan

What is the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System?

GHS and Hazardous Communication: Are You Ready?

Some Frequently Asked Questions about GHS HAZCOM

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