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Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Occupational Exposure to Methylene Chloride
• Section: 0
• Title: Intro to 29 CFR Parts 1910, 1915 and 1926, Occupational Exposure to Methylene Chloride


Occupational Safety and Health Administration

29 CFR Parts 1910, 1915 and 1926

RIN 1218-AA98

Occupational Exposure to Methylene Chloride

AGENCY: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Department of Labor.

ACTION: Final rule. ______________________________________________________________________

SUMMARY: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hereby amends its existing regulations for employee exposure to methylene chloride (MC), (also known as methylene dichloride, dichloromethane or DCM). OSHA has determined, based on animal and human data, that the current permissible exposure limits (PELs) allow employee exposure to a significant risk of material impairment of health. OSHA is reducing the existing 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) exposure from 500 parts MC per million parts (ppm) of air to 25 ppm. Also, OSHA is deleting the existing ceiling limit concentration of 1,000 ppm and is reducing the existing short-term exposure limit from 2,000 ppm (measured over five minutes in any 2 hour period) to 125 ppm, measured as a 15-minute TWA. In addition, the Agency is setting an "action level" of 12.5 ppm, measured as an 8-hour TWA. The final rule also contains provisions for exposure control, personal protective equipment, employee exposure monitoring, training, medical surveillance, hazard communication, regulated areas, and recordkeeping. Together, these provisions will substantially reduce significant risk to the extent feasible. This standard applies to all employment in general industry, shipyards and construction. Small employers, for purposes of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601, are defined as firms with fewer than twenty employees. The final standard will prevent an estimated 31 cancer deaths per year and an estimated three deaths per year from acute central nervous system and carboxyhemoglobinemic effects, and will also reduce cardiovascular disease and material impairment of the central nervous system. The estimated cost, on an annualized basis, is $101 million per year.

DATES: This final rule becomes effective April 10, 1997.

Compliance: Start-up dates for specific provisions are set in Sec. 1910.1052(n) of the regulatory text. However, affected parties do not have to comply with the information collection requirements in Sec. 1910.1052(d) exposure monitoring, Sec. 1910.1052(e) regulated areas, Sec. 1910.1052(j) medical surveillance, Sec. 1910.1052(l) employee information and training; and Sec. 1910.1052(m) recordkeeping, until the Department of Labor publishes in the Federal Register the control numbers assigned by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Publication of the control numbers notifies the public that OMB has approved these information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

Comments: Interested parties may submit comments on the information collection requirements for this standard until March 11, 1997.

ADDRESSES: In compliance with 28 U.S.C. 2112(a), the Agency designates the Associate Solicitor for Occupational Safety and Health, Office of the Solicitor, Room S-4004, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, D.C. 20210, as the recipient of petitions for review of the standard.

Comments on the paperwork requirements of this final rule are to be submitted to the Docket Office, Docket No. ICR96-15, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington D.C. 20210, telephone (202) 219-7894. Written comments limited to 10 pages or less in length may also be transmitted by facsimile to (202) 219-5046.

Copies of the referenced information collection request are available for inspection and copying in the Docket Office and will be mailed immediately to persons who request copies by telephoning Vivian Allen at (202) 219-8076. For electronic copies of the Methylene Chloride Final Standard and the Information Collection Request, contact OSHA's WebPage on Internet at http://www.osha.gov/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bonnie Friedman, Director, OSHA Office of Public Affairs, Room N-3647, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20210; Telephone (202) 219-8148.


Collections of Information: Comment Request

The Department of Labor, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, conducts a preclearance consultation program to provide the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing collections of information in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA95) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)). This program helps to ensure that requested data can be provided in the desired format, reporting burden (time and financial resources) is minimized, collection instruments are clearly understood, and the impact of collection requirements on respondents can be properly assessed. Currently, OSHA is soliciting comments concerning the proposed approval for the paperwork requirements of the Methylene Chloride Final Standard. Written comments should:

* Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

* Evaluate the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

* Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

* Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submissions of responses.

Background: The Methylene Chloride Standard and its information collection requirements are designed to provide protection for employees from adverse health effects associated with occupational exposure to MC. The standard requires employers to monitor employee exposure to MC and inform employees of monitoring results. If monitoring results are above the 8-hour TWA PEL or the STEL, then employers must also inform employees of the corrective action that will be taken to reduce employee exposure to or below the 8-hour PEL or STEL. Employers may also be required to provide medical surveillance to employees who are or may be exposed to MC. Employers are also required to provide information and training to employees on the following: health effects of MC, specifics regarding use of MC in the workplace, the contents of the standard, and means the employee can take to protect themselves from overexposure to MC.

Current Actions: This notice requests public comment on the paperwork requirements in the Methylene Chloride Final Standard. The Agency previously sought clearance on three Methylene Chloride Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Information Collection Requests: Shipyards, 1218-0177; Construction, 1218-0178; and General Industry, 1218-0179. Since the information requirements are identical for each industry, the Agency has combined these three packages into one entitled Methylene Chloride Sec. 1910.1052, OMB number 1218-0179.

Type of Review: Revision of a currently approved collection. Agency: Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Title: Methylene Chloride Sec. 1910.1052. OMB Number: 1218-0179. Agency Number: Methylene Chloride Docket Number H-71. Recordkeeping: Employers must maintain employee medical records for at least the duration of employment plus thirty years. Employee exposure monitoring records must be maintained for at least 30 years. Objective data, data showing that any materials in the workplace containing MC will not release MC at levels which exceed the action level or the STEL under foreseeable condition of exposures, must be maintained as long as the employer is relying on the data in support of the initial monitoring exemption.

Affected Public: Business or other for-profit, Federal government, State and Local governments.

Total Respondents: 92,000. Frequency: On Occasion. Total Responses: Initial 719,948; Recurring 299,620. Average Time per Response: 0.26 hour. Estimated Total Burden Hours: Initial 188,728; Recurring 74,299. Estimated Total Burden Cost: Initial $32,496,380; Recurring $12,282,420.

Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for the Office of Management and Budget approval of the information collection request; they will also become a matter of public record.


This standard has been reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 12612, 52 FR 41685 (October 30, 1987), regarding Federalism. This Order requires that agencies, to the extent possible, refrain from limiting State policy options, consult with States prior to taking any actions that would restrict State policy options, and take such actions only when there is a clear constitutional authority and the presence of a problem of national scope. The Order provides for preemption of State law only if there is a clear Congressional intent for the Agency to do so. Any such preemption is to be limited to the extent possible.

Section 18 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), expresses Congress' clear intent to preempt State laws with respect to which Federal OSHA has promulgated occupational safety or health standards. Under the OSH Act, a State can avoid preemption only if it submits, and obtains Federal approval of, a plan for the development of such standards and their enforcement. Occupational safety and health standards developed by such State Plan-States must, among other things, be at least as effective in providing safe and healthful employment and places of employment as the Federal standards. Where such standards are applicable to products distributed or used in interstate commerce, they may not unduly burden commerce and must be justified by compelling local conditions (See section 18(c)(2)).

The final MC standard is drafted so that employees in every State will be protected by general, performance-oriented standards. States with occupational safety and health plans approved under section 18 of the OSH Act will be able to develop their own State standards to deal with any special problems which might be encountered in a particular state. Moreover, the performance nature of this standard, of and by itself, allows for flexibility by States and employers to provide as much leeway as possible using alternative means of compliance.

This final MC rule addresses a health problem related to occupational exposure to MC which is national in scope.

Those States which have elected to participate under section 18 of the OSH Act would not be preempted by this regulation and will be able to deal with special, local conditions within the framework provided by this performance-oriented standard while ensuring that their standards are at least as effective as the Federal Standard.

State Plans

The 23 States and two territories with their own OSHA-approved occupational safety and health plans must adopt a comparable standard within six months of the publication of this final standard for occupational exposure to methylene chloride or amend their existing standards if it is not "at least as effective" as the final Federal standard. The states and territories with occupational safety and health state plans are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut (for State and local government employees only), Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York (for State and local government employees only), North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, the Virgin Islands, Washington, and Wyoming. Until such time as a State standard is promulgated, Federal OSHA will provide interim enforcement assistance, as appropriate, in these states and territories.

Unfunded Mandates

The MC final rule has been reviewed in accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.) and Executive Order 12875. As discussed below in the Summary of the Final Economic Analysis (FEA) (Section VIII of this document), OSHA estimates that compliance with the revised MC standard will require the expenditure of slightly more than $100 million each year by employers in the private sector. Therefore, the MC final rule establishes a federal private sector mandate and is a significant regulatory action, within the meaning of Section 202 of UMRA (2 U.S.C. 1532). OSHA has included this statement to address the anticipated effects of the MC final rule pursuant to Section 202.

OSHA standards do not apply to state and local governments, except in states that have voluntarily elected to adopt an OSHA State Plan. Consequently, the MC standard does not meet the definition of a "Federal intergovernmental mandate" (Section 421(5) of UMRA (2 U.S.C. 658(5)). In addition, the Agency has concluded, based on review of the rulemaking record, that few, if any, of the affected employers are state, local and tribal governments. Further, OSHA has found that any impact on such entities would be insignificant. In sum, the MC standard does not impose unfunded mandates on state, local and tribal governments.

The anticipated benefits and costs of this final standard are addressed in the Summary of the FEA (Section VIII of this document), below, and in the FEA [Ex. 129]. In addition, pursuant to Section 205 of the UMRA (2 U.S.C. 1535), having considered a reasonable number of alternatives as outlined in this Preamble and in the FEA [Ex. 129], the Agency has concluded that the final rule is the most cost-effective alternative for implementation of OSHA's statutory objective of reducing significant risk to the extent feasible. This is discussed at length in the FEA [Ex. 129] and in the Summary and Explanation (Section X of this document) for the various provisions of the MC standard.

[62 FR 1494, January 10, 1997]

Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents

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