The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration has developed a step-by-step toolkit to help businesses eliminate or reduce hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
According to the agency, American workers use tens of thousands of chemicals every day — many of which are suspected of being harmful and only a small number of which are regulated.
The toolkit provides employers and workers with information, methods, tools and guidance on using informed substitution in the workplace.
All types of businesses can use the toolkit: it is for manufacturers using chemicals in their production processes as well as for businesses that use products containing chemicals in their everyday operations. For example, service-oriented workplaces (such as janitorial companies, auto body repair shops, and pathology labs) and construction work sites often use products containing chemicals that could present hazards to workers.
Workers also can use this toolkit to better understand chemical use in their workplace, find opportunities for using safer chemicals, and engage with their employers throughout the process of identifying, evaluating and transitioning to safer alternatives.
Chemical exposure standards set by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration are “dangerously out of date and do not protect workers,” according to OSHA’s assistant secretary of labor, Dr. David Michaels.
To remedy this, OSHA last month launched a national dialogue with stakeholders on ways to prevent work-related illness caused by exposure to hazardous substances.