Do OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits Adequately Ensure Employee Safety-December 2007

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety

December 2007


IN THIS ISSUE: Do OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits Adequately Ensure Employee Safety?

Since its inception in 1970, OSHA has established standards for employee exposure that carry the weight of law. These standards are called Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL). Nevertheless, ensuring employee safety requires careful adherence to PELs in addition to standards set by professional organizations.

“Safety professionals must not rely solely on OSHA’s PELs that may be years out of date,” explains Gary R. Ticker, CIH, CSP, of OccuSafe, Inc, “OSHA must get the approval of congress to change PELs and that slows the process down. In fact, many standards first issued by nongovernmental organizations eventually become law, but it takes years while they await Congressional approval.”

Three key professional organizations rely on current research to enact occupational safety standards. ACGIH, a nongovernmental scientific organization whose members are industrial hygienists and occupational health and safety professionals, publishes standards and Biological Exposure Indicators that can be changed every two years as new evidence dictates. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the American Industrial Hygiene Association publishes standards annually. In addition to these U.S. standards, the European Union and other countries publish additional standards.

“We know that employees are getting the best protection only when we examine all available standards and benchmarks,” explains Ticker, “This process regularly means exceeding OSHA’s standards.”

For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs, call us at (214) 662-6005 or visit

OccuSafe Environmental and Safety Services, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the workplace. Our services include industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health, noise testing, ergonomics and training.  OccuSafe serves a wide range of industries.

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