A small coalition formed by the American Industrial Hygiene Association that includes the AFL-CIO and Organization Resources Counselors (a consulting group to mostly Fortune 500 companies) is pressing ahead in an attempt to find a way to update hundreds of outdated permissible exposure limits (PELs) used to protect workers from hazardous chemicals.

The group has been crafting possible draft legislation to provide an "expedited" way for OSHA to consider updating these limits. The coalition believes the only way for OSHA to succeed is for Congress to enact legislation that would pave the way for a new process. OSHA's last stab at updating the PELs through traditional rulemaking was shot down in court more than ten years ago on the grounds that the agency had not done a sufficient job of justifying new limits.

Rep. Charlie Norwood (Ga.) is reportedly considering possible legislation to address the issue. According to AIHA, the bill will be loosely based on the coalition draft. Rep. Norwood is being especially careful with this issue following hearings recently held on the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists' Threshold Limit Values lawsuits and process.

Any measure probably doesn't have a chance of passage in the remaining days of the 107th Congress, but a proposal could jump-start efforts in the early days of the 108th Congress in 2003. Success depends on labor and industry adversaries agreeing that the current process is broken and legislation is the only way to fix it, according to AIHA.