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U.S. Chemical Exposure Limits Are Severely Outdated

Posted By Arnold & Itkin || 9-Jul-2015

Many industrial workers are exposed to dangerous or potentially dangerous chemicals on a daily basis. There are tens of thousands of chemicals used or made in the United States according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All of them could potentially be harmful to a worker’s health depending on the amount, frequency, and length of the exposure.

OSHA Exposure Limits Are Antiquated

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal regulatory agency in charge of setting maximum exposure limits for chemicals and other harmful substances. Even though there are tens of thousands of chemicals that workers are exposed to nationwide, OSHA has set maximum exposure limits for just 470 of them. And by the agency’s own admission, the majority of those limits are grossly outdated and insufficient.

Over the last 20 years, OSHA has issued just 7 new health standards related to chemical exposure. Compare that to 1978 when the agency issued 6 new heath standards in that year alone; it is clear that the current limits are not being updated with enough regularity. In fact, the vast majority of OSHA exposure limits are over 40 years old, despite newer research into the harmful effects of exposure to certain chemicals. There are even chemicals that the government has known for many years are hazardous to workers, yet still have no maximum exposure limit set.

Facts About Chemical Exposure & Worker Health

OSHA freely acknowledges that the maximum exposure limits in place do not provide enough protection for workers, but their hands are often tied because the business industry has been widely successful at lobbying Congress to prevent updates to exposure regulations.

Below are some basic facts about the inadequacy of the current regulations.

  • OSHA frequently warns employers that simply complying with OSHA standards will not guarantee the safety of their workers.
  • An OSHA analysis of 16 chemicals found that workers who are exposed to the legal limit of those chemicals had as high as a 6 in 10 chance of developing cancer.
  • OSHA exposure limits are much higher that the limits that are recommended by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  • Of the 2,238 chemicals that the EPA identifies as high use, 90% do not have a maximum exposure limit set by OSHA.
  • Since 1971, OSHA has added a maximum exposure limit to just one chemical.
  • Even though far more workers die from chemical exposure, OSHA conducts four times as many inspections for safety hazards as it does for health hazards.
  • More workers die each year from chemical exposure than in suicides, vehicle accidents, falls, or homicides.
  • About 15% of workers with asthma have been told by their doctor that exposure at work caused or worsened the conditions.

Workers Exposed to Dangerous Chemicals Have Rights

If you have developed health problems that you believe are related to toxic exposure, it is important to understand that you have legal rights. Depending on the amount of exposure you were subjected to, your place of work, and a number of other factors, you may be entitled to compensation for your health problems. At Arnold & Itkin, our firm offers free consultations to all industrial workers who believe they may have a toxic exposure claim. We will evaluate your case and inform of your legal rights at no cost and with no obligation. Contact our toxic exposure attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Client's portion of total recovery may be subject to Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement claims, Medicare/Medicaid liens or other third-party claims or liens. These verdicts and settlements are intended to be representative of cases handled by Arnold & Itkin, LLP. These listings are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome of any other claims.

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