On October 24, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) initiated two new internet resources to assist employers in better protecting their employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals.
These initiatives do not create new mandatory standards, but rather provide employers with resources that OSHA hopes will encourage companies to voluntarily adopt safer policies regarding hazardous chemicals. According to OSHA, these new resources are needed because many of its standards are out-of-date and fail to adequately protect workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals.
One of the new internet resources is a toolkit that identifies safer chemicals that can be used in place of more hazardous chemicals. This toolkit can be found at http://www.osha.gov/dsg/safer_chemicals/index.html.
OSHA also created Annotated Permissible Exposure Limit tables (annotated PEL tables), which list more stringent exposure limits for chemicals. The annotated PEL tables can be found at http://www.osha.gov/dsg/annotated-pels/index.html. Compliance with the exposure limits contained in the annotated PEL tables is voluntary, though recommended by OSHA. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, stated that he hopes employers will adopt these new PEL tables. He explained, “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.”
Employers who use hazardous chemicals in the workplace are encouraged to review these new internet resources in an effort to improve the safety of their workers.