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the majority of those limits are grossly outdated and insufficient.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
- 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.