Pending OMB Review, OSHA Could Restart Effort to Update Chemical Exposure Limits (PEL’s)

By Robert Iafolla

April 16 –In an apparent effort to kickstart agency action on updating permissible exposure limits for hundreds of chemicals, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration asked the White House April 15 to approve a request to gather information on ways to address chemical exposure.

OSHA cited widespread agreement that the majority of the agency’s exposure limits are decades out-of-date and need revising. But agency attempts have gone nowhere since a 1992 appeals court decision scuttled a blanket measure on exposure limits for nearly 400 chemicals.

The specifics of OSHA’s request for information (RIN: 1218-AC74) won’t be publicly available until the White House Office of Management and Budget completes its review. Agencies typically issue formal requests for information in the context of setting up future rulemaking, but OSHA may be soliciting views on a range of alternatives.

“I think they’re interested in any and all suggestions,” Scott Schneider, director of occupational safety and health for the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America, told Bloomberg BNA April 15.

OSHA’s Hurdles

The problem of outdated exposure limits seems to need a creative solution, given the legal, political and practical restrictions that OSHA faces.

Working on exposure limits one chemical at a time is nearly impossible given the agency’s limited resources, said Aaron Trippler, director of government affairs at the American Industrial Hygiene Association. Changing the law to update the limits and amend the process to make it easier for OSHA to update the limits moving forward is complicated by the reality of Congress actually drafting, introducing and passing legislation, Trippler said.

“That doesn’t leave too many other options,” so OSHA is putting out a request for information, Trippler told Bloomberg BNA April 15. “By chance there may be something no one has thought of to date.”

Alternatives to Rulemaking?

OSHA has tried non-regulatory efforts to mitigate the potential for worker harm that results from out-of-date exposure limits. In October 2013, the agency launched a pair of online tools to help employers substitute safer chemicals and use more protective exposure limits on a voluntary basis.

Some employers have been using exposure limits that are more protective than OSHA’s as a matter of good practice or by agreement in union contracts, Jim Frederick, United Steelworkers’ assistant director for safety and health, told Bloomberg BNA April 15.

But Frederick said OSHA-enforced limits create a level playing field for employers, since competing businesses all have to make the investments to meet the same limit, and for workers, who would be afforded the same degree of protection no matter where they work.

The Path to the Problem

OSHA has permissible exposure limits for various forms of about 300 chemicals, established in 1971, that are based on science from the 1950s and 1960s. In 1989, the agency issued a rule that revised 212 existing limits and established 164 new ones. But that rule faced a legal challenge from industry, which said the limits were too stringent, and from labor, which said some were too weak.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit vacated those limits in a 1992 decision on the grounds that the agency failed to demonstrate sufficiently that they were necessary or feasible (AFL-CIO v. OSHA, 965 F.2d 962 (11th Cir. 1992)). The agency resumed enforcing the 1971 limits.

In the wake of that decision, OSHA began work on trying to prioritize chemicals for revision, said Charles Gordon, a former Labor Department lawyer who worked on the exposure limit issue for the agency. OSHA started with about 20 chemicals, Gordon told Bloomberg BNA April 16, and finally settled on four. Despite completing risk assessments and feasibility analyses for those chemicals, the agency never issued new limits.

Gordon said OSHA also discussed the possibility of negotiated rulemakings, which would feature advisory committees overseeing updates to chemicals divided by groups, either by health effects or industries affected. But nothing came of those discussions, Gordon said.

Industry has been involved in developing solutions. In 1998, the industry consulting group Organization Resources Counselors Inc. started working with OSHA on a proposal to bring together labor, industry and other interested parties to help guide rulemaking on updating exposure limits.

However, the push to revise the 1971 limits ground to a halt during the Bush administration due to a lack of agency interest, Peg Seminario, the AFL-CIO’s director of safety and health, told Bloomberg BNA April 15.

Renewed Campaign on Updating Old Limits

OSHA under the Obama administration–and agency head David Michaels–revived the effort, soliciting input in 2010 at a stakeholder meeting and through a Web forum. The agency added the request for information on its fall 2011 regulatory agenda, although it took more than two years to finally develop and send it to the Office of Management and Budget for approval.

OSHA published its last request for information about a month after sending it to OMB for review, although that request on potential updates to the process safety management standard is directly connected to the White House’s efforts to improve chemical safety. The issue of permissible exposure limits doesn’t appear similarly linked to any White House initiatives.

Should the agency decide to move forward with rulemaking on updating the exposure limits, it would be a long process that would probably require the commitment of whoever takes over the White House after the 2016 presidential elections. The Government Accountability Office found OSHA rulemaking took an average of more than seven years.

“I don’t see why this would go faster than any other rule,” Sidney Shapiro, a law professor and regulatory specialist at Wake Forest University, told Bloomberg BNA April 15.

Source: Bloomberg BNA®

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Iafolla in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jim Stimson at

OSHA Table Z-1:

Do Your Employees Have Basic First Aid Training?

“The safety professionals in Australia produce some of the most “thought-provoking” and at times, explicit safety videos. But they do drive home an important message, as this one does about First Aid

It is a requirement of OSHA that employees be given a safe and healthy workplace that is reasonably free of occupational hazards. However, it is unrealistic to expect accidents not to happen. Therefore, employers are required to provide medical and first aid personnel and supplies commensurate with the hazards of the workplace. The details of a workplace medical and first aid program are dependent on the circumstances of each workplace and employer. The intent of this page is to provide general information that may be of assistance. If additional information is required, an Occupational Health Professional should be contacted.

Medical and first aid services are addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals, longshoring, and the construction industry.

OSHA Standards

This section highlights OSHA standards, directives (instructions for compliance officers), and standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards) related to medical and first aid.

Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

  • 1910.151, Medical services and first aid

Shipyard Employment (29 CFR 1915)

  • 1915.87, Medical services and first aid

Marine Terminals (29 CFR 1917)

  • 1917.26, First aid and lifesaving facilities

Longshoring (29 CFR 1918)

  • 1918.97, First aid and lifesaving facilities (see appendix V of this part)

Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)

  • 1926.50, Medical services and first aid


  • American Red Cross Agreement. CPL 02-00-002 [CPL 2.2], (1978, October 30). Provides information regarding first aid training requirements and courses.

Standard Interpretations

  • Medical and First Aid standards. (1994, July 26). Discusses whether full face shields and access to a water hose can be used as a substitute for a commercially available eye wash facility.

What is first aid?

First aid refers to medical attention that is usually administered immediately after the injury occurs and at the location where it occurred. It often consists of a one-time, short-term treatment and requires little technology or training to administer. First aid can include cleaning minor cuts, scrapes, or scratches; treating a minor burn; applying bandages and dressings; the use of non-prescription medicine; draining blisters; removing debris from the eyes; massage; and drinking fluids to relieve heat stress. OSHA’s revised recordkeeping rule, which went into effect January 1, 2002, does not require first aid cases to be documented. For example: A worker goes to the first-aid room and has a dressing applied to a minor cut by a registered nurse. Although the registered nurse is a health care professional, the employer does not have to report the accident because the worker simply received first aid. The selected references below provide more information on first aid.

  • First Aid. National Ag Safety Database (NASD). Provides links to a variety of first aid topics primarily related to the agriculture industry.
  • Job Injuries and First Aid Training Guide. Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health (elcosh), (1994). Provides teaching guidelines and basic first aid questions aimed at recognizing hazards and controls in the workplace.
  • First Aid. Mayo Clinic. Includes information for handling a variety of emergency care situations.

First Aid Programs

First aid training is primarily received through the American Red Cross, the National Safety Council (NSC), and private institutions. The American Red Cross and NSC offer standard and advanced first aid courses via their local chapter/training centers. After completing the course and successfully passing the written and practical tests, trainees receive two certificates; (adult CPR and first aid). An emphasis on quick response to first aid situations is incorporated throughout the program. Other program elements include: basic first aid intervention, basic adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and universal precautions for self-protection. Specific program elements include training specific to the type of injury: shock, bleeding, poisoning, burns, temperature extremes, musculoskeletal injuries, bites and stings, medical emergencies, and confined spaces. Instruction in the principles and first aid intervention of injuries will cover the following sites: head and neck, eye, nose, mouth and teeth, chest, abdomen, and hand, finger, and foot injuries. Employers are responsible for the type, amount, and maintenance of first aid supplies needed for their particular program. The training program should be periodically reviewed with current first aid techniques and knowledge. Basic adult CPR retesting should occur every year and first aid skills and knowledge should be reviewed every three years. The references below provide further fundamentals to help develop and maintain first aid program and skills.

  • Corporate Training. American Heart Association (AHA). Find information about training for the workplace, general public and healthcare providers. Learn about course materials and use links to related emergency care information.
  • Z358.1-2004, Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment. American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Provides requirements for eyewash facilities.

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages


  • Corporate Training. American Heart Association (AHA). Find information about training for the workplace, general public and healthcare providers. Learn about course materials and use links to related emergency care information.
  • First Aid Training Programs. National Safety Council (NSC). Serves as a tool for training employees or the general public on the latest skills, techniques, and expertise in life-saving procedures offering emergency care, standard first aid, CPR, and AED Instructor-led classroom courses.
  • First Aid, CPR and AED. American Red Cross. Offers first aid and CPR course programs for the community, workplace, and professional rescuers.

Other Resources


Safety Photo of the Day Portfolio #1 – April 2014

No Smoking?

No Smoking?


PPE..Wear It Please!

PPE..Wear It Please!

Forklift & Fall Prot. Safety

Forklift & Fall Prot. Safety

Scissors Lift Safety

Scissors Lift Safety

Loading Dock Safety & Communication

Loading Dock Safety & Communication

Chemical Safety

Chemical Safety

Forklift Safety

No, This is Not a Hard Hat!

No, This is Not a Hard Hat!

Slips & Falls

Slips & Falls

Fishing Safety Fail

Fishing Safety Fail

Texting & Driving

Texting & Driving

How Safety Shoes Were Invented

How Safety Shoes Were Invented

Machine Guarding Comic

Machine Guarding Comic


Why LOTO is Vitally Important 1

Why LOTO is Vitally Important 1

Electrical Safety......

Electrical Safety……

Acceptable PPE??

Acceptable PPE??

Human Nature

Human Nature



Hot Weather Safety- What Not to Do

Hot Weather Safety- What Not to Do

What Not to do with a Forklift

What Not to do with a Forklift

Gun Safety

Gun Safety


Dress Code.....

Dress Code…..

This Is Gonna Hurt!

This Is Gonna Hurt!

santa_chimney_safety_cartoon OSHAregs

Santa Safety

Santa Safety


Grinding Safety

Grinding Safety

Wrong Safety Message

Wrong Safety Message

WreckedBuilding Safety Photo of the Day - April 30, 2012 Safety Workplace Funnie



Paper Cut

Paper Cut



Incident Report

Incident Report





Ergonomics in the Office!

Workplace Sanity

Workplace Sanity

plank_safety_net_509425 cleanup safety comic 1drabbletextdrive ergonomicscartoon27 1-511safety 1a a drabble safety safety4

Paper Shredder

Paper Shredder

1a when it comes 1safety90709 16.S.MANAGER 1bungee 1 safetycomic 1staple gun 1.cirque safety 1 a vulture 1.baywatch 1 Suggestions72 1safety

OSHA Issues Final Rule on Electrical Power Generation Safety


Release: 14-547-NAT
Date: April 1, 2014
Contact: Lauren North
Phone: 202-693-4655
Email: north.lauren.a


OSHA announces final rule revising standards
for electric power generation, transmission and distribution

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced that it would be issuing a final rule* to improve workplace safety and health for workers performing electric power generation, transmission and distribution work.

“This long-overdue update will save nearly 20 lives and prevent 118 serious injuries annually,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Electric utilities, electrical contractors and labor organizations have persistently championed these much-needed measures to better protect the men and women who work on or near electrical power lines.”

OSHA is revising the 40-year-old construction standard for electric power line work to make it more consistent with the corresponding general industry standard and is also making some revisions to the construction and general industry requirements. The updated standards for general industry and construction include new or revised provisions for host and contract employers to share safety-related information with each other and with employees, as well as for improved fall protection for employees working from aerial lifts and on overhead line structures. In addition, the standards adopt revised approach-distance requirements to better ensure that unprotected workers do not get dangerously close to energized lines and equipment. The final rule also adds new requirements to protect workers from electric arcs.

General industry and construction standards for electrical protective equipment are also revised under the final rule. The new standard for electrical protective equipment applies to all construction work and replaces the existing construction standard, which was based on out-of-date information, with a set of performance-oriented requirements consistent with the latest revisions of the relevant consensus standards. The new standards address the safe use and care of electrical protective equipment, including new requirements that equipment made of materials other than rubber provide adequate protection from electrical hazards.

The final rule will result in estimated monetized benefits of $179 million annually, with net benefits equal to about $130 million annually.

Additional information on the final rule is available at The final rule becomes effective 90 days after publication in the Federal Register. OSHA adopted delayed compliance deadlines for certain requirements.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

Construction Safety – “Caterpillar Construction Safety Video – 1970″

Construction Industry 2014-04-18 11-22-17



What's New What’s New

New OSHA schedules informal hearing on proposed extension of crane operator certification deadline. OSHA News Release [4/15/2014]

New OSHA announces national stand-down for fall prevention in construction [3/19/14]

New No more falling workers: OSHA focuses on protecting cell tower employees after increase in worksite fatalities. OSHA News Release, (2014 Feb. 11)

New OSHA letter to communication tower industry employers

New Fall from a Telecommunications Tower: FATAL Facts (PDF*)

Protecting the Safety and Health of Communication Tower Workers*. (2013, November 8).

Construction Industry Digest

Related Topics Related Topics

New Scaffolding: Narrow Frame Scaffolds Fact Sheet (PDF*). (OSHA 3722 – 2014).

New Material Hoist Collapse (PDF*). OSHA FATAL Facts No. 8, (2014).

New Hazard Alert: Using Dolly-Type Devices to Spread Flammable Liquid Adhesives on a Roof Can Cause Fires. SHIB [3/13/14]

Prevention Videos (v-Tools): Construction Hazards. OSHA.

Prevention through Design (PtD). OSHA Alliance Program – Construction Workplace Design Solutions

Trenching and Excavation Safety [English* | Spanish*]. OSHA Fact Sheet, (2011).

New factsheets on minimizing silica exposure in construction [3/1/13]

Ladder Safety Guidance

  • Falling Off Ladders Can Kill: Use Them Safely – Booklet [PDF* | EPUB* | MOBI*]

  • Safe Use of Extension Ladders – Fact Sheet (English) [PDF*]

  • Safe Use of Job-made Wooden Ladders – Fact Sheet (English) [PDF*]

  • Safe Use of Stepladders – Fact Sheet (English) [PDF*]

  • NIOSH Ladder safety phone app – English and Spanish

Temporary Worker Safety – “What You Need To Know & A Real Life Story”

“Temporary Work, Lasting Harm”

by Michael Grabell, Olga Pierce and Jeff Larson
ProPublica, Dec. 18, 2013, 2:27 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This was it, he told his brother Jojo. He would finally be able to pay his mother back for the fender bender, buy some new shoes and, if things went well, maybe even start a life with his fiancee who was living in Atlanta.

After getting his high school diploma, completing federal job training and sending out dozens of applications, Day Davis, 21, got a job. It was through a temp agency and didn’t pay very much, but he would be working at the Bacardi bottling plant, making the best-selling rum in the world.

Davis called his mother to tell her the good news and ask if she could pick him up so he could buy the required steel-toe boots, white shirt and khaki pants and get to the factory for a 15-minute orientation before his 3 p.m. shift.

Word spread quickly through the family. “Me and my brother was like, ‘Don’t mess up now, you got to do good, don’t mess up,’ ” said his younger sister, Nia.

It was a humid 90 degrees as Davis walked into Bacardi’s Warehouse No. 7 to the rattle of glass bottles, the whir of fans and the clank of industrial machines. It was his first day on the first job of his life. He went to the bathroom and took a photo of himself in the mirror, showing off his work clothes and orange safety vest. He texted it to his fiancee, Alicia Lloyd, and promised he would call her during his break.

When Davis walked into the factory, he joined one of the fastest-growing and more dangerous segments of the U.S. labor market: blue-collar temp work.

Since the 2008 recession, companies have increasingly turned to temporary employees to work in factories and warehouses and on construction sites. The temp industry now employs a record 2.8 million workers.

The trend carries a human cost.

A ProPublica analysis of millions of workers’ compensation claims shows that in five states, representing more than a fifth of the U.S. population, temps face a significantly greater risk of getting injured on the job than permanent employees.

In California and Florida, two of the largest states, temps had about 50 percent greater risk of being injured on the job than non-temps. That risk was 36 percent higher in Massachusetts, 66 percent in Oregon and 72 percent in Minnesota.

These statistics understate the dangers faced by blue-collar temps like Davis. Nationwide, temps are far more likely to find jobs in dangerous occupations like manufacturing and warehousing. And their likelihood of injury grows dramatically.

In Florida, for example, temps in blue-collar workplaces were about six times as likely to be injured than permanent employees doing similar jobs.

The findings were particularly stark for severe injuries. In Florida, the data shows, temps were about twice as likely as regular employees to suffer crushing injuries, dislocations, lacerations, fractures and punctures. They were about three times as likely to suffer an amputation on the job in Florida and the three other states for which such records are available.

ProPublica interviewed more than 100 temp workers across the nation and reviewed more than 50 Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigations involving temp worker accidents.

The interviews and OSHA files revealed situations that occur over and over again: untrained laborers asphyxiated while cleaning the inside of chemical tanks, caught in heavy machinery such as food grinders and tire shredders, and afflicted by heat stroke after a long day on a garbage truck or roof.

The lightly regulated blue-collar temp world is one where workers are often sent to do dangerous jobs with little or no training. Where the company overseeing the work isn’t required to pay the medical bills if temps get hurt. And where, when temp workers do get injured on the job, the temp firm and the company fight with each other over who is responsible, sometimes even delaying emergency medical care while they sort it out.

The growing reliance on temps subverts one of the strongest incentives for companies to protect workers. The workers’ comp system was designed to encourage safety through economic pressure; companies with higher injury rates pay higher insurance premiums. Hiring temp workers shields companies from those costs. If a temp worker gets hurt, the temp agency pays the workers’ comp, even though it has little or no control over job sites.

OSHA director David Michaels said he has been alarmed by the number of temp workers being killed on their first day on the job. Earlier this year, he launched an initiative to raise awareness about the dangers temp workers face and employers’ responsibilities. But despite growing concern about temp workers’ safety, regulators and lawmakers have struggled to make major changes, in part because they lack basic data, such as whether temps get injured more than regular workers. Unlike the way it monitors every other industry, the federal government does not keep injury statistics on temp agency workers.

A groundbreaking 2010 study of Washington state’s workers’ comp claims found that temp workers in construction and manufacturing had twice the claims rate of regular workers doing the same type of work.

It’s not possible to track temp workers’ injuries nationwide through workers’ comp records. Many states, such as New Jersey, consider workers’ comp claims to be confidential and declined to release them to ProPublica. In other states, such as New York, there is no way to sift out temp workers from regular workers. In Texas, employers aren’t required to carry workers’ comp insurance, and many fail to report their employees’ injuries to state authorities.

The data that does exist, however, identify consistent trends, allowing ProPublica to conduct the first multistate study of temp worker injury claims. Our analysis covered five years of workers’ comp data, amounting to more than 3.5 million claims, in five states: California, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon.

“Caught in” and “struck by” injuries were significantly more common among temps, records show. In California, temps were about twice as likely as regular workers to be stricken by heat exhaustion. And in Minnesota, temps were at least three times as likely to be injured by chemicals as their regular counterparts.

Within blue-collar industries, temps tend to be manual laborers, who have higher injury rates, rather than supervisors and skilled technicians, who have lower injury rates.

And the data shows the problem is worsening. Over the past five years, the claims rate of temp workers has increased in Florida, California, Oregon and Massachusetts, while that of regular workers has held steady or fallen.

The workers’ comp system is an imperfect record of injuries. Some workers file false claims. Some employers try to deter employees from filing legitimate claims. But public health researchers and workers’ comp insurance experts suggested workers’ comp data likely undercounts injuries to temp workers. One reason: If temp workers, almost none of whom are represented by a union, report injuries, they risk being blacklisted by their temp agency.

Bacardi said in a statement that it has been “steadfast in its commitment’’ to safety.

But according to OSHA, the bottling plant Davis walked into on the afternoon of Aug. 16, 2012, epitomized many of the hazards temp workers face. It was a factory, OSHA investigators later wrote, that put profits over safety, trained its workers to cut corners and treated its temps as “second-class citizens” and “peons” – a portrait Bacardi disputes.

He was born Lawrence Daquan Davis, but everyone who knew him called him Day. His mother, Tonya Washington, was 14 when she gave birth to him in Smithfield, N.C., later moving to Jacksonville. She struggled to make ends meet, working at day cares and dollar stores, fast-food chains and supermarkets. But Washington and her family worked hard to raise him right.

“You see all these little boys walking around with the sagging pants and gold in their mouths,” Washington said. “I have to pat myself on the back, because that wasn’t my baby.”

Read the rest of this story here:

Source: Pro Publica


“Supervising employer responsible for recording temporary worker injuries and illnesses”

March 31, 2014 – Posted by Paul Giannetti

When a temporary worker gets injured on the job, a game of hot potato sometimes ensues between the staffing agency that supplies the worker and the host employer. Both parties can be reluctant to claim recordkeeping responsibility, each considering the other to be the worker’s “real” employer.

In a new educational bulletin, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) clarifies who is responsible for recording temporary employees’ work-related injuries and illnesses on the OSHA-300 log. The bulletin explains that the staffing agency and host employer jointly employ temporary workers and share a certain degree of responsibility for conditions of employment and legal compliance.  Nonetheless, only one employer should record a temporary worker’s injury or illness. In most cases, OSHA says, the host employer is the responsible party.

Supervision is the deciding factor

The key to determining record keeping responsibility lies in supervision. The employer considered responsible for recording work-related illnesses or injuries:

  •  supervises a temporary worker on a day-to-day basis
  • controls conditions presenting potential hazards
  • directs the worker’s activities around, and exposure to, those hazards

Day-to-day supervision is defined as when “the employer supervises the details, means and methods and processes by which the work is to be accomplished.” Using this definition, there is a high likelihood that the host employer, not the staffing agency, will have a greater degree of supervisory responsibility. Even if the staffing agency has a representative at the work site, as long as the host company retains supervisory control, it is responsible for recording injuries and illnesses.

Employers must share information

The staffing agency isn’t free of responsibility, however. Staffing agencies have a duty to stay in frequent contact with temporary employees and the host employer to ensure that injuries and illnesses are accurately recorded and hazardous conditions in the workplace are identified.

Staffing agencies should also work with the host employer to establish a seamless notification procedure for the mutual exchange on information on any work-related illnesses or injuries experienced by temporary workers. In this way, employers can be cognizant of potential workplace hazards, take steps to eliminate them, and provide appropriate training and/or protective equipment to workers to prevent exposures.

The bulletin is the first in a series of guidance documents to be published as part of OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative. The initiative was launched last year in conjunction with Workers’ Memorial Day, an annual observance held on April 28 to honor workers who have died on the job and promote a renewed commitment to safe and healthy workplaces.

Learn how PureSafety, the workplace safety industry’s first learning and safety management system,helps employee safety professionals proactively manage training, safety and compliance.



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