Trade News Release
Tuesday, May 18, 1999
Contact: Michael Fluharty
PHONE : (202) 693-1999
Industry Joins Forces to Save Lives
OSHA ENDORSES MAJOR AGREEMENT TO PROTECT WORKERS
EXPOSED TO FIBERGLASS INSULATION
Charles N. Jeffress, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, today lauded three industry associations for developing a program that will help protect more than 200,000 employees involved in the manufacture, handling, installation and removal of products containing fiberglass.
Jeffress said he is "enthusiastic" about the agreement because it provides benefits to workers that even the most tightly worded regulation may not ensure. The three groups are the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), the trade association that represents 15 major manufacturers of fiberglass, slag wool and rock wool insulation products, which together have more than 95 percent of the SVF insulation market; and the National Insulation Association (NIA) and the Insulation Contractors Association of America (ICAA), which represent companies that install fiberglass materials in commercial and residential buildings, respectively.
"I am particularly impressed that the Health and Safety Partnership Program (HSPP) tasks both manufacturers and users of fiberglass materials," Jeffress said at a signing ceremony today at the Department of Labor. "The documents presented to me reflect a great deal of creative thought and innovation, and I appreciate their efforts."
The HSPP, three years in the making, establishes a voluntary PEL for fiberglass exposure, makes comprehensive worksite recommendations for the proper and safe handling of insulation materials, and increases education and training programs for workers. All three organizations agreed to begin immediately implementing the HSPP provisions.
Briefly, the HSPP:
- Establishes voluntary exposure limits of 1 fiber per cubic centimeter (f/cc) 8 hour time-weighted average for respirable SVF; currently fiberglass is only regulated as "nuisance dust" under a standard that allows up to about 50 f/cc.
- Increases respiratory protection by agreeing that workers wear NIOSH certified dust respirators when the PEL is exceeded or when performing certain tasks such as blowing SVF insulation into attics and other places and when demolishing buildings; and
- Establishes exposure monitoring by NAIMA which will continue to develop a database of representative exposure limits for manufacturing and end-use applications for SVF.
Jeffress said that the HSPP will go a long way towards addressing the concerns that lead to OSHA identifying SVF as a high priority for regulatory or other risk-reduction action in 1995.
"We [OSHA] will continue to monitor and track fiberglass exposures," Jeffress said, "and we will also conduct inspections. I want to ensure that workers in the fiberglass industries, whether they are making insulation or installing it, have all the protection that they need."
Studies of workers exposed to fiberglass and mineral wool, as well as studies in laboratory animals, provide some evidence that these materials may cause a risk of cancer and chronic respiratory disease.
According to Jeffress, this product stewardship concept, "may be a model for future OSHA programs where companies can take more responsibility for protecting from chronic health hazards the employees who work for their customers."
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The text of this news release is on the Internet World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov.
Information on this news release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-693-1999.