Recommending Workplace Standards
Background and Purpose
Workplace standards for chemicals and other agents identify exposure limits and guidelines that employers must follow to protect workers from illness and injury. Cal/OSHA is the state agency charged with issuing and enforcing workplace regulations and standards. Workplace health standards are based (in part) on the scientific information that is available at the time the standard is issued. Since health hazard information on long-term effects such as cancer, reproductive damage, and asthma is constantly developing, it is difficult to keep workplace standards up to date with current knowledge. In addition, long-term health damage that can be caused by chemicals and other workplace hazards is difficult to study.
To assist Cal/OSHA in ensuring that workplace health standards are current, OHB's Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service (HESIS) collects and evaluates new scientific information on workplace chemicals and other hazards and recommends protective standards to prevent work-related illness and disease. HESIS recommends revisions of existing Cal/OSHA standards that may not be fully protective and new standards for chemicals that are not yet regulated. Protective standards help employers prevent harmful exposures that can result in health damage to workers that may not be apparent until many years after exposure ends.
- Maintain an up-to-date repository of health information on chemicals and other workplace hazards;
- Identify chemicals and other hazards that pose health risks to workers where there is no standard, or the existing standard does not provide adequate protection;
- Document the scientific basis for standards recommendations;
- Review regulatory and voluntary standards set by other groups, states and countries;
- Provide technical assistance to Cal/OSHA advisory committees in the development of proposed standards.