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Prior to October 29, 2003, the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation ("OHSR") contained a table of occupational exposure limits for 860 chemical substances (Table 5-4). The table served to restrict the exposure of workers to hazardous chemical substances in the workplace. The exposure limits were set at levels where, it was generally accepted, that repeated daily exposure would not cause health problems in most workers.
The regulatory amendments that came into effect on October 29, 2003 resulted in the deletion of Table 5-4 from the OHSR. The OHSR now provides that occupational exposure limits for hazardous chemical substances are generally determined with reference to the Threshold Limit Values ("TLVs") adopted by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists ("ACGIH").
By utilizing the expertise, resources, and review process of the ACGIH, WorkSafeBC (the WCB) is able to ensure that exposure limits remain consistent with workplace practices, technological advances and other changes affecting occupational health and safety and occupational environment.
To ensure that adopted exposure limits are appropriate for workers in British Columbia, the OHSR specifically provides WorkSafeBC with authority to develop occupational exposure limits for specific chemical substances that may differ from the TLVs established by the ACGIH. Section 5.48 of the OHSR provides as follows:
Except as otherwise determined by the Board, the employer must ensure that no worker is exposed to a substance that exceeds the ceiling limit, short-term exposure limit, or 8-hour TWA limit prescribed by ACGIH.
WorkSafeBC policy, at item R5.48-1 of the Prevention Manual, is the mechanism used to establish exceptions under section 5.48. Exceptions are provided where it is determined that a specific TLV is not appropriate for adoption in British Columbia, or where no TLV has been developed for a particular substance.
To assist workplace parties in determining applicable exposure levels as required by the OHSR, a practice guideline has been developed. Among other things, the guideline contains a table relevant to the ACGIH TLVs and the exposure limits established through policy.
In further support of the new regulatory and policy requirements, an
internal WorkSafeBC review committee has been established. The Occupational
Exposure Limit Review Committee (PDF 96kb) is responsible for facilitating
an ongoing review of exposure limits provided for in policy and proposed
new TLVs developed by the ACGIH.
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