News Release USDL: 97-130
Wednesday, April 16, 1997
Contact: Susan Hall Fleming, (202) 219-8151
OSHA Offers Small Businesses
Compliance Help For Methylene Chloride
Help is here for small businesses that need detailed guidance inmeeting the
new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard on
methylene chloride (MC), a widely used industrial solvent that can cause
cancer or worsen heart problems for workers who are exposed to the vapors.
OSHA has produced a series of eleven fact sheets geared toward employers
who need specific recommendations for work practices and engineering controls
to limit MC exposures during routine work activities. Targeted toward
industries that include many small businesses where MC exposures are common,
the fact sheets were developed with help from employers and employees in those
General fact sheets on exposure monitoring and medical surveillance will be
useful to all employers. Specific fact sheets cover cold degreasing and
cold cleaning operations, construction work, furniture refinishing,
flexible polyurethane foam manufacturing and vapor degreasing.
"Under the New OSHA, we want to work cooperatively with employers in
protecting workers. Providing detailed guidance specific to individual
industries is one effective way to do that," said Gregory R. Watchman,
acting assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.
In addition to the fact sheets, OSHA also plans to hold seminars later
this year to offer employers and employees more in-depth guidance and to
respond to their specific questions about complying with the MC standard.
OSHA's plans to assist small businesses in complying with its MC standard
were announced today at a congressional hearing on the MC standard.
Small businesses also can turn to OSHA's free consultation service for
additional onsite help in meeting the demands of the standard. Available
in every state, the service helps small businesses establish effective
safety and health programs and deal with specific safety and health
concerns. OSHA consultation programs are usually listed in the state
government section of the telephone directory.
The MC standard, which was promulgated January 9 and took effect April 10,
will affect 92,000 firms employing nearly a quarter million workers.
Workers who breathe MC vapors risk developing cancer and worsening existing
cardiac disease. The new exposure limit, a 20-fold decrease from the 500
part per million (ppm) limit set more than 25 years ago, will prevent an
estimated 31 cancer deaths each year. Employers in the smallest businesses
have up to three years to install engineering controls to comply with
the 25 ppm exposure limit and other requirements.
OSHA is distributing the fact sheets directly and through trade associations,
unions, and others. The MC fact sheets, a reprint of the appendix on
respirator fit testing from the standard plus a general compliance guide
on MC developed earlier, can be found on the Internet at http://www.osha.gov
under "Publications." In addition, single copies can be obtained from
OSHA Publications, telephone (202) 219-4667.