OSHA signals new strategy on chemical safety

Armed with a set of outdated regulations, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration is leaning on a new strategy to enforce chemical safety, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The agency issued thousands of dollars in fines against a Wisconsin employer for exposing workers to dangerous chemicals – even though exposure at the factory in question was within OSHA’s longstanding standards.

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OSHA relied on broad regulations requiring workplaces to be safe from known hazards, according to the newspaper.

“The case highlights a battle shaping up over the way the federal government regulates some dangerous substances in the American workplace,” the Journal’s Alexandra Berzon writes. "OSHA's limits are decades out of date, and widely considered inadequate by people in industry, government and elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, a group of congressional lawmakers and worker safety advocates are pressing for an overhaul of the 37-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act.

The late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) championed the effort before his death earlier this year. Since then other senators have taken up the effort, prompting optimism among lobbyists and environmental advocates that a deal to update the antiquated regulations through new legislation is within reach.