DOSH seeks to revise PEL adoption process

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, June 16, 2006 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) is in the final stages of reviewing and making changes to the process by which they develop and revise Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) for occupational exposure to chemicals.  Acting Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh is overseeing the advisory committee process and believes that a final product is near completion.  

Under the draft DOSH proposal, developing or revising a PEL would be a three part process.  First, a technical advisory committee of toxicologists, industrial hygienists, epidemiologists and occupational physicians would review the scientific evidence regarding the substance in question.  The technical advisory committee would make a recommendation to DOSH for a health based PEL.  Although the committee itself would consist of only scientific experts, the current understanding is that other stakeholders would be able to participate through presentations or testimony during this process.

After the Technical Advisory Committee makes a recommendation to DOSH, another advisory committee would be convened to examine issues of cost and feasibility.  Historically, the discussion of feasibility has been where most of the debate occurs.  Employers believe that the technology for employers to ensure compliance simply does not exist.  Similarly, the technology for DOSH to enforce the PEL does not exist.  The advisory committee’s discussion on feasibility would consist of all stakeholders from the scientific, labor and employer communities.  

Once the technical and feasibility advisory committees have held their meetings, DOSH would make a final determination and recommend a PEL to the Standards Board.  Based on the discussions to date, it is likely that the stakeholders would be able to convene again before the PEL recommendation from DOSH is sent to the Standards Board for adoption.

This process, while not entirely different from what happens currently, seems to provide the technical advisory committee with a more formal presence in the process.  One of the issues raised by CMTA is the "Super-stakeholder" status that will be given to the scientific community if this process is developed.  (We believe this is inappropriate because everyone who attends the advisory committee meetings as a stakeholder comes to the table with some agenda or idea about what direction should be taken and the scientific community is no exception.)

CMTA is continuing its advocacy on reforming the PEL adoption process.  The major issue is preserving an appropriate seat at the table for all interested parties – the labor community, the scientific community and the employer community.  
Read more Safety & Health articles

Capitol updates archive 989898989