AIHA Praises Proposed EPA Asbestos Ruling

June 25, 2000
Association president commends EPA for working closely with OSHA\r\non asbestos standards.

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Complimenting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its "foresight to provide consistency with federal rules and standards pertaining to worker exposure to asbestos," the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) recently commented on the agency''s proposed Asbestos Worker Protection rule.

In a letter this week to the EPA''s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, AIHA President Steven P. Levine, Ph.D., CIH2, made several recommendations designed to strengthen certain provisions of the rule. In addition to these comments, the association praised EPA for working closely with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to dovetail the proposed rule with OSHA''s asbestos standards for construction and for general industry.

Levine''s letter made several comments and suggestions concerning EPA''s rule:

  • AIHA supports provisions in the proposed rule that would protect state and local government employees from the health risks of asbestos exposure. Private-sector workers already receive these protections based on OSHA''s asbestos standards.
  • AIHA supports increased funding to EPA and OSHA for enforcement, an issue not addressed by the proposed ruling. Extending coverage of asbestos protections to thousands of workers will add costs in terms of staff, training and oversight. The association is concerned that this lack of enforcement language and budget could make the ruling difficult to carry out.
  • AIHA recommends EPA cross-reference OSHA''s guidelines for laboratories qualified to analyze bulk samples in asbestos-abatement cases. The 1994 OSHA ruling recognizes the validity of several accredited laboratory settings, including those from the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) or those accredited by AIHA itself. The proposed EPA ruling includes only NIST-certified labs. The AIHA program, supported by OSHA, includes NIST and NVLAP laboratories in its certification, however, and is more stringent in its requirements.
  • AIHA recommends EPA expand its definition of a "competent person" in asbestos-abatement cases. EPA''s rule requires a certified industrial hygienist or licensed professional engineer to make determinations in most asbestos-abatement cases. The association notes, however, that OSHA''s final rule on occupational exposure to asbestos goes much further and includes definitions of industrial hygienist and certified industrial hygienist clarifying the qualifications of the required "competent person."

According to Levine''s letter, these recommendations should help EPA and OSHA get "on the same page" regarding asbestos abatement and bolster both agencies'' efforts to extend protection to more U.S. workers. As he noted, "this effort speaks volumes on how federal agencies can work together to alleviate government bureaucracy and provide greater health and safety to workers."

EPA is accepting comments on its proposed rule, Asbestos Worker Protection, which was published April 27 in the Federal Register.

by Todd Nighswonger

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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