AIHAOSHA’s renewed focus on outdated permissible exposure limits (PELs) is drawing praise from the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), which vowed to support the agency in its effort to address the problem.

“Updating the PELs has been the number one public policy issue for the association since the mid-1990s and for the first time, we are seeing some real movement from the government sector on this issue,” said AIHA President Barbara J. Dawson, CIH, CSP. “AIHA encourages employers, workers and other interested parties to look closely at OSHA’s list of alternate exposure limits because they will bring us closer to updating the PELs.”

That list -- an Annotated Occupational Exposure Limits table that provides accurate, up-to-date chemical information to employers who want to voluntarily adopt newer, more protective workplace exposure limits for those chemicals that are covered by outdated OSHA exposure standards -- is one of two new, web-based resources released today by the agency. The other is a toolkit to assist employers and workers in identifying and substituting safer chemicals to use in place of more hazardous ones and

The AIHA pointed out that it assumed a leadership role on the issue of outdated PELs by adopting its first position paper on the subject in 1998. The paper highlighted six specific statements on PELs, specifically calling for OSHA to update the existing PELs to current science and set new PELs to protect worker health. The majority of the existing PELs are based on recommendations that were made more than 30 years ago and continue to have a major impact on the industrial hygiene profession.

“Despite the limited resources of the agency and the long list of regulatory and enforcement concerns, Dr. Michaels recognized the importance of this issue to occupational safety and health and we’re grateful to him for his leadership on this effort,” said Dawson.