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Skin and Lung Irritants

Posted on Dec 9, 2009
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During 2009, Worksafe staff attended several meetings of Cal/OSHA’s Sensitizer stakeholder group with the goal of finalizing a regulation regarding sensitizers in California’s workplaces. Click here for information about this regulatory advisory committee and minutes from Cal/OSHA.

Sensitizers are substances known to cause occupational asthma and permanent disability. There are currently no workplace protections mandated by Cal/OSHA to protect workers against sensitization. Permissible exposure limits in California’s workplaces are not set to protect against sensitization.

In 2003, during advisory committee meetings regarding the chemical gluteraldehyde, stakeholders discussed the sensitizing effect of that chemical. Committee members reached consensus that the gluteraledhyde permissible exposure limit should include designation of this substance as a sensitizer. It was then agreed that the broader issue of identifying and listing all sensitizing substances should be considered by another committee. DOSH initiated the first Sensitizer Advisory Meeting (SAM) on January 19, 2005. The SAM led to the development of a sensitizer advisory committee.

The sensitizer advisory committee met 3 times in 2005, and then not again until January 21, 2009. Worksafe was a part of the sensitizer committee process from the beginning, and so, in late 2008 when Cal/OSHA released a draft proposal, Worksafe became actively involved in the discussion yet again. Throughout 2009, we have continued to argue for meaningful protections for workers from sensitizing substances, and we remain dedicated to the process, even as it moves slowly into 2010.

On July 6, 2009, Inside OSHA, a national publication, published a cover-story on California’s sensitizer process featuring Worksafe and entitled “Labor Group Frustrated by Delay in Cal/OSHA’s Sensitizers Proposal.” Click here to read Inside OSHA’s coverage featuring Worksafe’s perspective on Cal/OSHA’s lack of progress in drafting a sensitizer regulation.

Read the most recent comments submitted by Worksafe to Cal/OSHA regarding the sensitizer regulation (PDF). October 9, 2009.

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