Permissible exposure limits bill jumps around

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Aug. 15, 2008 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Earlier this year, the Senate Appropriations Committee declined to hear AB 515 (Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View) because it missed a technical deadline.  In an attempt to get her bill passed, Lieber then gutted it, amended its contents into AB 514 and sent it back to the Senate Environmental Quality Committee for hearing.  It passed along partisan lines and was sent back to the Senate Appropriations Committee where it failed passage on August 14th.  Proponents are currently looking for another bill-vehicle to continue its progress.

If passed, it would completely alter the way the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Standards Board) adopts permissible exposure limits (PEL) for the workplace by having the Office of Environmental Health Hazard and Assessment (OEHHA) prioritize chemicals.

Proponents feel that the current process is moving too slowly and not enough attention is being placed on OEHHA data.  Even though the Standards Board’s PEL advisory group has revised the PEL setting process to take into account the new data from OEHHA, the sponsors are not backing down.  If AB 514 passes, it will actually halt PELs being developed now by starting the process over.   

In addition, AB 514 excludes from the regulatory process companies that have financial conflicts of interest, effectively banning stakeholder input.  

CMTA and others continue to educate the Legislature of the current, and better, process in place which allows for stakeholder meetings with subcommittees that focus on all reasonable health and feasibility aspects of using these workplace chemicals.  AB 514 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 514 would give defacto authority to OEHHA, an agency that does not have near the breadth of experience and expertise in protecting worker safety as does the Standards Board.

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