Oregon Occupational Safety Agency Tackles Exposure Limits

Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will follow two different approaches as it updates permissible exposure limits in 2016, the state’s administrator says in a new agency newsletter.

Oregon OSHA administrator Michael Wood says in the newsletter that the agency will begin identifying ways to encourage employers to consider more up-to-date and protective reference levels for occupational exposure to hazardous materials, while criticizing the federal OSHA for failing to keep regulatory mandates updated.

“It is clear that federal OSHA will never be able to keep the regulatory levels sufficiently up to date, at least until a completely new approach is developed and adopted,” Wood writes. “But that does not mean that Oregon workers need to go unprotected.”

“The levels published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the American Conference of Government and Industrial Hygienists are based on much more current exposure and health information, and even where they cannot be used for enforcement purposes, employers can be encouraged to consider them seriously as they make decisions about the protective measures they can put in place,” Wood adds.

In addition Oregon OSHA will address four to six of the most significantly outdated permissible exposure levels on a state level, bringing together toxicologists, industrial hygienists, and other professionals to offer advice on what chemicals are most unregulated or under-regulated and present the greatest risk to workers. — Joshua Higgins (jhiggins@ipwnews.com)