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New occupational exposure limit review and adoption procedure

At their March 2010 meeting, the Board of Directors (“BOD”) approved a new occupational exposure limit (“OEL”) review and adoption procedure. Under the new procedure, WorkSafeBC will now review and stakeholders will be consulted on potential implementation issues prior to the adoption of the annual new or revised ACGIH TLVs. This new procedure will be implemented for the annual new or revised ACGIH TLVs that will be published in April 2010. 

Under the former procedure, the annual American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (“ACGIH”) Threshold Limit Values (“TLVs”) were adopted as BC OELs prior to a review of implementation issues and stakeholder consultation. This created issues with the implementation of the new limits. Implementation issues include the practicability of implementation (i.e. can industry meet these limits) or technical feasibility of implementation (i.e. is there a validated sampling method to measure at these new limits).

While the BOD approved the new procedure, they directed the Policy and Research Division to be explicit about the timelines for various stages in the new procedure. It will be important for stakeholders to take note of these timelines, especially those relating to the consultation phase. These timelines will be the same each year for the newly published ACGIH TLVs.

The new procedure is as follows:

  • WorkSafeBC continues to recognize the ACGIH TLVs as the BC OELs, pursuant to sections 5.1 and 5.48 of the OHSR. However, pursuant to section 5.48 of the OHSR, the Board will not adopt the annual new or revised ACGIH TLVs as OELs until such time as the BOD can make an informed decision regarding which should be adopted as BC OELs and which should not be. In the interim, the substances for which the ACGIH has new or revised limits will be placed on the Table of OELs for Excluded Substances in Policy R5.48-1 without adopting the new limits as BC OELs and maintaining the existing ones.

  • The new or revised TLVs will be released for stakeholder consultation with employers, workers and other interested parties.

    WorkSafeBC will conduct internal reviews of the availability of sampling methods.

    This will be done between April 1 (when the ACGIH TLVs are usually published each year) and May 15.

  • The OEL Review Committee, an internal committee of subject matter experts, of the Board will:

    • review external stakeholder feedback to identify which ACGIH TLVs are of any concern and which are not.
    • identify those ACGIH TLVs that have sampling issues and those that do not;
    • recommend which of the ACGIH TLVs should be adopted as BC OELs due to no valid implementation issues, and also identify those ACGIH TLVs which should not be adopted as BC OELs due to valid implementation issues.

    This will be done between May 15 – June 30.

  • The BOD will decide which of the ACGIH TLVs should be adopted as BC OELs, and which should not be and require further analyses. The substances for which the new or revised ACGIH TLVs are adopted as BC OELs will be removed from the Table of OELs for Excluded Substances in Policy R5.48-1.

    This will be done at the July BOD meeting

  • The OEL Review Committee will review those ACGIH TLVs for which implementation issues have been raised and develop recommendations on how to deal with them.

    This will be done between July – September

  • Recommendations will be provided to the BOD with timelines on how to address the ACGIH TLVs for which there are implementation issues.

    These recommendations will be made at the October BOD meeting.

In the near future, WorkSafeBC will be sending out another E-news notification advising of the consultation on the 2010 ACGIH TLVs. WorkSafeBC encourages stakeholders who are affected by the new or revised limits to participate in the consultation and provide their feedback.