Federal agencies Workplace exposures

OSHA will address PELs in latest chem hazard initiative, official says

Washington – OSHA’s latest initiative on chemical hazards will involve more than updating outdated permissible exposure limits and could include control banding or task-based approaches, an agency official said Oct. 21.

“Our intent here is to go beyond that and start thinking more broadly,” William Perry, director of OSHA’s Directorate of Standards and Guidance, said during the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s fall conference.

OSHA published a Request for Information Oct. 10 on how to improve the current processes for reducing chemical exposures, as well as alternative approaches.

The agency’s latest effort is the “start of the discussion,” Perry said, and OSHA is looking for new ideas on how non-PEL approaches could be incorporated. In addition to task-based standards regulating chemical exposure and control banding, OSHA is seeking feedback on employers’ experiences with the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals regulation, commonly known as REACH.

Perry asked stakeholders to submit multiple comments – including reactions to other stakeholders’ remarks – before the RFI’s April 8 deadline.

The most helpful recommendations would be those falling within OSHA’s operational framework, he said. This framework consists of various regulatory and court requirements, such as establishing economic feasibility and identifying significant risks.