OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
OSHA National News Release
U.S. Department of Labor
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 industries.
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.
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