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36 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 11.14 Chemical exposure standards set by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are "dangerously out of date and do not pro - tect workers," according to OSHA's assistant secretary of labor, Dr. David Michaels. For the next six months, OSHA will accept comments on the best ways to protect work - ers from illnesses caused by exposure to haz- ardous substances. The agency is asking stake- holders, including businesses, for specifc suggestions on how to streamline risk assess - ment and develop alternatives to updating per- missible exposure limits (PELs) for chemicals. Thousands of chemicals are used in work - places, but OSHA has PELs for fewer than 500. "We're struggling to keep pace with the potential hazards," Michaels told a group of reporters in early October, adding that man - ufacturing frms currently have their own standards that on paper are stronger than the government's. Michaels added that the majority of the agency's PELs were adopted more than 40 years ago, and that new scientifc data, in - dustrial experience and developments in tech- nology indicate that, in many instances, these mandatory limits are not suffciently protective. Efforts in recent years to update the limits, Mi - chaels stated, have been "largely unsuccessful." According to news reports, Michaels said that a major problem was the vast amount of scientifc and economic research needed to change the limits. The regulation of a single chemical could require hundreds or even thou - sands of pages of documentation and years of work by staff, he said. So the agency is looking for new ways to streamline the process. "We can't go chemical by chemical, because it would take centuries to address all the chemi - cals that are out there," Michaels told reporters. One approach OSHA is interested in looking at is "control banding" — basically treating chemicals with similar qualities the same — instead of developing PELs for every single chemical, said one news account. A year ago, OSHA launched two new Web resources that aimed to safeguard workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals in response to its own out-of-date standards. OSHA created a toolkit, called Transitioning to Safer Chem - icals, to identify safer chemicals that can be used in place of more hazardous ones. This toolkit can be found at www.osha.gov/dsg/ safer_chemicals/index.html . OSHA also developed the Annotated Permissible Exposure Limits, or annotated PEL tables to enable employers to voluntarily adopt newer, more protective workplace expo - sure limits. The annotated PEL tables can be found at www.osha.gov/dsg/;annotated-pels/ index.html . Public comments may be made at www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/10/10/ 2014-24009/chemical-management-and- permissible-exposure-limits . Information for this column was gathered from various news sources, including Environmental Leader ( www.environmentalleader.com ) and The Business Journals ( www.bizjournals.com ). (environment) OSHA: Chemical exposure standards 'out of date' For the next six months, OSHA will accept comments on the best ways to protect workers from illnesses caused by exposure to hazardous substances. Photo by Damon Masa/Shutterstock.com