Last week, we discussed the new OSHA “Annotated Permissible Exposure Limits,” which OSHA announced in a press release dated Thursday, Oct. 24.  In the same press release, OSHA announced its new “Safer Chemical Tool Kit” for employers.

The idea is to go beyond compliance, and substitute, reduce, or even eliminate chemical hazards.  This is not a new idea – use of safer chemicals is sometimes referred to as “green chemistry,” and EPA has been advocating this for years.  A related concept is pollution prevention, and on this blog, we wrote earlier this year about changing practices to limit the need for permits and the attendant obligations.  For all of these, the goal is go to the source – whether it’s chemical use or waste generation or just facility operations – and think about how to do things differently to avoid the hazard, and therefore the potential liability and costs, at the end.

Change is hard.  But the benefits can be great.  OSHA points out three possible benefits to chemical substitution:

  • Cost Savings — Reduce expenses and future risks.
  • Efficiency — Improve performance.
  • Industry Leadership — Invest in innovation to stay competitive.
  • Corporate Stewardship — Advance socially responsible practices.

Besides the OSHA toolkit, some other resources for eliminating or reducing chemical hazards are: