OSHA Releases Workplace Toxic Chemical Exposure Data and Latino Worker Memo

April 29, 2010
On April 28, OSHA announced it is releasing 15 years of data providing details of workplace exposure to toxic chemicals. This data will offer insight into the levels of toxic chemicals commonly found in workplaces, as well as how chemical exposure levels to specific chemicals are distributed across industries, geographical areas and time.

The data is comprised of measurements taken by OSHA compliance officers during the course of inspections. It includes exposure levels to hazardous chemicals including asbestos, benzene, beryllium, cadmium, lead, nickel, silica and others.

“We believe this information, in the hands of informed, key stakeholders, will ultimately lead to a more robust and focused debate on what still needs to be done to protect workers in all sectors, especially in the chemical industry,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.

With an understanding of these data and their limitations, it can be combined with other related data to target further research into occupational hazards and illness. In addition to this raw data, OSHA will soon make available an online search tool allowing easy public access to this information. To learn more, visit http://www.osha.gov/opengov/healthsamples.html.

Protecting Latino Workers

Also on April 28, OSHA issued an enforcement memorandum directed at protecting Latino and other non-English speaking workers from workplace hazards. It directs compliance officers to ensure they check and verify that workers are receiving OSHA required training in a language they understand.

“This directive conforms with Secretary Solis’ clear and urgent goal of reducing injuries and illnesses among Latino and other vulnerable workers,” said Michaels. “These workers represent an integral and essential part of the key industries that keep our country running every day.”

OSHA requires that employers provide training to their workers on certain job hazards and safe methods for performing work. Investigators will now check and verify that training was provided in a language and vocabulary that the workers understand.

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