WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health administration is calling for strategies for updating the agency's permissible exposure limits (PEL). PELs are regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air.

OSHA said the first stage of its national dialogue includes a request for information from stakeholders on the management of hazardous chemical exposures. Currently, PELs cover only 500 chemicals, a small fraction of the tens of thousands of chemicals used in commerce, many of which are suspected of being harmful.

"Many of our chemical exposure standards are dangerously out of date and do not adequately protect workers," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "While we will continue to work on updating our workplace exposure limits, we are asking public health experts, chemical manufacturers, employers, unions and others committed to preventing workplace illnesses to help us identify new approaches to address chemical hazards."

OSHA is seeking comment on current practices and future methods for updating PELs, in addition to new strategies to better protect workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals. The agency is requesting suggestions on possible streamlined approaches for risk assessment and feasibility analyses and alternative approaches for managing chemical exposures, including control banding, task-based approaches and informed substitution.

The comment period is open for 180 days.