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August 24, 2009

Occupational health & safety

Ontario seeking input on chemical exposure limits

Input from Ontario’s construction industry for new or revised occupational exposure limits to chemical substances is being sought through consultations launched by the provincial labour ministry.

“Everyone has got some kind of occupational exposure limit (OEL), some more than others,” said David Zurawel, vice president, policy and government relations at the Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA).

“If you want certain occupational exposure limits more stringent or not, pull your data together and get it to the ministry.”

COCA issued notice of the consultation in a recent news bulletin. The 60-day occupational exposure limit consultations address exposure to substances such as asbestos, benzene, ethanol, petroleum ether, rubber solvent, sulphur dioxide and lead.

OELs were first adopted into regulation in Ontario in 1986 and were based on the then-current (1985) limits recommended by the American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). Several reviews were done in subsequent years and the current proposed changes are based on recent recommendations tabled by the ACGIH.

Among the proposed changes for 17 various chemical substance exposures are:

Withdrawal of separate listings for rubber solvent and V.M. & P. Naphtha and the adoption of ACGIH’s method for developing OELs for refined hydrocarbon solvents set out in the 2009 ACGIH handbook for threshold limit values

Withdrawal of the Ontario-specific listing for petroleum ether that, similar to chemical agents rubber solvent and V.M. & P. Naphtha, would continue to be regulated by applying the OELs for refined hydrocarbon solvents set in the 2009 ACGIH handbook.

Updated listings for 13 substances including the development of an occupational exposure limit for a specific particle size fraction for eight substances.

The Ministry of Labour will also review “skin notations” associated with certain substances to ensure consistency with that substance’s notations in the 2009 ACGIH handbook.

The ministry is also accepting nominations of substances not currently under consideration by the ACGIH.

Anyone interested in making submissions should indicate a proposed limit and supporting documentation used by a jurisdiction that has adopted the proposed limit.

Provincial consultations will end September 18 and submissions may be mailed to: The 2009 OEL Updated Project, Ontario Ministry of Labour, 12th Floor, 400 University Avenue, Toronto ON M7A 1T7. Submissions via email to oelupdateproject@ontario.ca can also be faxed to 416-326-7650.

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