Permissible exposure limits legislation, AB 515, advances

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Aug. 31, 2007 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Yesterday the Senate Appropriations passed AB 515 (Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View) 10 to 7, with Republicans voting "No". AB 515 completely alters the way the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Standards Board) adopts permissible exposure limits (PEL) for the workplace. It would circumvent the current regulatory process by expediting PELs for workplace chemicals based on the Office of Environmental Health Hazard and Assessment (OEHHA) standards.

AB 515 sponsors have argued that their objective is not to circumvent the process but to consider the scientific data developed by OEHHA. The sponsors don’t recognize that OEHHA already has this role in the current process. AB 515 would go further and make OEHA’s assessment the presumptive standard. Under AB 515 there would effectively be no other stakeholder input included in the development of a PEL.

Specifically, AB 515 excludes anyone that has a financial interest in the development of a PEL from participating therefore excluding all industry stakeholders from the process. It also states that there should be a rebuttable presumption that any PEL adopted be the same as the corresponding health-based occupational exposure limit established by OEHHA.

In response to the concerns of the bill’s sponsors, the Standards Board has convened an advisory group to revise the PEL setting process and has developed a preliminary draft of chemical priorities. Yet the sponsors are not satisfied and continue to push for AB 515.

CMTA and other business coalition partners believe there is no urgent need to dramatically change the PEL setting process. The current process allows for stakeholder meetings with subcommittees that focus on reasonable health and feasibility aspects of setting that PEL. AB 515 would simply dismiss this balanced, health-based system that’s been developed by an agency which has a strong track record of protecting worker’s health. AB 515 would give defacto authority to OEHHA, an agency that does not have near the breadth of experience and expertise in protecting worker safety than the Standards Board.

The bill will next be voted on by the full Senate. Please join CMTA in opposing AB 515 and call your local Senator to vote "No". To find contact information for your Senator, go to CMTA’s website at www.CMTA.net, look on the left-side title-bar for "Directories".

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