OSHA launches a national dialogue on hazardous chemical exposures and permissible exposure limits in the workplace
OSHA is launching a national dialogue with stakeholders on ways to prevent work-related illness caused by exposure to hazardous substances. The first stage of this dialogue is a request for information on the management of hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace and strategies for updating permissible exposure limits.
“Many of our chemical exposure standards are dangerously out of date and do not adequately protect workers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “While we will continue to work on issuing and updating our workplace exposure limits, we are asking public health experts, chemical manufacturers, employers, unions and others committed to preventing workplace illnesses to help us identify new approaches to address chemical hazards.”
OSHA’s PELs, which are regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air, are intended to protect workers against the adverse health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. Ninety-five percent of OSHA’s current limits, which cover fewer than 500 chemicals, have not been updated since their adoption in 1971. The agency’s current PELs cover only a small fraction of the tens of thousands of chemicals in commerce, many of which are suspected of being harmful.
The comment period will close on April 8, 2015. In the coming months, OSHA will announce additional ways for the public to participate in the conversation. For more information, see the news release and visit OSHA’s Web page on preventing occupational illnesses through safer chemical management.
FCC and OSHA hold unprecedented event; announce working group to prevent fatalities in telecommunications industry
In an unprecedented event Oct. 14, the Department of Labor and the Federal Communications Commission joined leaders in the telecommunications industry, including major carrier AT&T, to discuss new and continuing efforts to prevent worker fatalities on cell towers.
“The fatality rate in this industry is extraordinarily high – tower workers are more than 10 times as likely to be killed on the job than construction workers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “But these deaths are preventable.”
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and FCC Chairman Thomas E. Wheeler also announced a new working group that will collaborate in the development and implementation of recommended safety practices for the growing telecommunications industry.
“The cellphones in our pockets can’t come at the cost of a worker’s life,” said Secretary Perez. “We know we can’t solve this problem alone though, and that’s why I am so glad to be joined in partnership on this issue with the FCC and major carriers like AT&T. It’s a perfect example of federal agencies and industry breaking down barriers and identifying common goals to save workers’ lives.”
For more information about the new working group, view a recording of the event and read the news release. To learn more about worker safety in the telecommunications industry, visit OSHA’s Communication Towers Web page.
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