The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has been in existence since 1970 – and some of its standards designed to protect workers from chemical hazards haven’t been updated since that time.
OSHA has launched two new web-based resources to better safeguard employees from the tens of thousands of chemicals utilized in the workplace on a daily basis: the Transitioning to Safer Chemicals toolkit and enhanced Annotated Permissible Exposure Limits, or PELs.
OSHA’s new chemical management system effectively helps employers reduce or eliminate chemical hazards at their source.
Transitioning to Safer Chemicals
Informed substitution involves identifying safer chemicals that can be used in place of more hazardous ones, using a seven-step method:
- Inventory and prioritize.
- Assess and compare.
In addition to enhancing workforce health and well-being, employers will realize these benefits from the new OSHA system:
- Cost savings: As both chemical-related expenses and future risks are reduced.
- Efficiency: A by-product of enhanced chemical performance.
- Industry leadership: Investment in innovation to stay competitive.
- Corporate stewardship: Via the advancement of socially responsible practices.
Annotated Permissible Exposure Limits
PELs set mandatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in order to protect workers from related health problems. OSHA’s new annotated PELs are consistent with those developed and published by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygiene (ACGIH).
Updates to OSHA PELs mark a major improvement, bringing the administration’s exposure limit standards into the 21st century following more than 40 years of changing scientific data, industrial experience and technological developments.
Mark Your Calendar: OSHA Training Deadline Ahead
By December 1, all U.S. workers who come into contact with one or more chemicals in the workplace must be trained to interpret the hazards communicated to them through OSHA-related programs and standardized Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), now called simply Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
Stay ahead of OSHA developments by visiting www.osha.gov. Or, call your manufacturing employment expert at Premium Staffing. We have extensive experience in safety management and related HR training and development issues and are more than happy to discuss any questions you may have.