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OSHA gives workers access to toxic exposure prevention resources

We have previously discussed just how hazardous exposure to toxic substances in the workplace can be. Exposure to toxic substances without proper protection can cause workers injury, severe illness and even death. As a result, it is critical that employers and workers are given access to resources that will better ensure prevention of harmful toxic exposure on the job. Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is helping to provide necessary access to such resources.

OSHA has created two new, publically-accessible resources designed to minimize unprotected toxic exposure in the workplace. The first is a toolkit that employers can use in their quest to replace certain hazardous chemicals with safer ones. The assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health recently explained that OSHA's inspiration for the toolkit was straightforward. He noted that, "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."

In addition, OSHA has created new Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) tables designed to help employers adopt new, proactively protective exposure limits on a voluntary basis. While stricter mandatory exposure limits would be ideal, this new web-based resource will hopefully help to inspire employer action sooner than a lengthy regulatory battle aimed at creating mandatory standards would.

The assistant secretary acknowledged the gaps in current mandatory standards and explained the necessary nature of the new PEL tables when he recently noted that, "There is no question that many of OSHA's chemical standards are not adequately protective. I advise employers, who want to ensure that their workplaces are safe, to utilize the occupational exposure limits on these (new) annotated tables, since simply complying with OSHA's antiquated PELs will not guarantee that workers will be safe."

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "OSHA releases new resources to better protect workers from hazardous chemicals," Oct. 24, 2013

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