Two New Resources for Protecting Employees from Chemistry Hazards

WASHINGTON (OSHA) – Each year in the United States, tens of thousands of workers are made sick or die from occupational exposures to the thousands of hazardous chemicals that are used in workplaces every day. OSHA has launched two new web resources to assist companies with keeping their workers safe.

The first is a toolkit to identify safer chemicals that can be used in place of more hazardous ones: http://www.osha.gov/dsg/safer_chemicals/index.html.

"We know that the most efficient and effective way to protect workers from hazardous chemicals is by eliminating or replacing those chemicals with safer alternatives whenever possible," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

The second is more technical, the Annotated Permissible Exposure Limits, or annotated PEL tables, 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.

"There is no question that many of OSHA's chemical standards are not adequately protective," Michaels said. "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."

The annotated PEL tables offer an easily accessible reference source for up-to-date workplace exposure limits, which are available at http://www.osha.gov/dsg/annotated-pels/index.html.