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Section Three: Resources for Gathering Information about Chemical Hazards

January 16, 2020

When armed with information about the chemicals they may be exposed to on the job, workers are empowered to make informed decisions about their health. Understanding the chemical hazards in a specific workplace will help workers, representatives, and advocates decide the best approach for taking action to protect workers in that establishment, as well as the community at large.

A wealth of information on chemicals is available to workers and the public, but it is important to know where to find credible information that is relevant to a specific workplace.

This section begins by examining the legal rights workers and worker representatives have to request and receive information about chemicals and hazards from an employer. It then explores other potential ways to obtain information about a particular establishment or specific chemical, such as by searching agency enforcement datasets or requesting information from the government. Finally, this section highlights a selection of the best catalogs of information on chemicals from other publicly available sources.

Utilizing Workers’ Right to Know: OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard

OSHA’s Hazard Communication (HazCom) standard requires that employers provide workers with both training and information before working with hazardous chemicals and substances. The training must inform workers of the chemicals they will be working with, the hazards of such chemicals, how to identify those hazards, and precautionary measures taken to protect workers, as well as how workers can protect themselves.

Employers must also maintain a list of all hazardous chemicals present in the workplace, properly label hazardous chemicals with hazard warnings and other information, and maintain, make available, and ensure workers are trained to read Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for each hazardous substance. The SDSs must include information about the chemical’s hazards and effects, instructions on preventing exposure, and steps for emergency treatment in the event of an exposure. It will also identify the proper respirator to wear in situations where OSHA standards require employers to substitute respirators for work practice and engineering controls.

Companies must also have a written hazard communication program and, upon request, provide workers and worker representatives with a copy of the program and of SDSs for each substance. It is worth noting that one very significant limitation to SDSs is that employers are not legally required to provide them in any language other than English.[1]

A Tip About Safety Data Sheets

If workers do not want to request a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) from an employer for fear of retaliation or any other reason, they can easily access many SDSs and other chemical fact sheets online through a variety of publicly available sources. The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) website offers several excellent options to begin research: www.coshnetwork.org/node/35.

While the HazCom standard is an important mechanism for gathering information about chemicals to which workers are exposed at their specific worksite, the information is not always complete. Many chemical substances have not been evaluated to assess their risks to human health or the environment. Only a chemical’s well-known hazards are reported on the SDS, so the SDS may not paint a full picture of all possible hazards, especially long-term health effects like cancer. Another limitation to an SDS is that it does not list interactions with other chemicals to which workers may be exposed. For this reason, additional research may be useful to get a more comprehensive picture of the hazards and health effects.

If an employer fails to provide training or information required by the HazCom standard, a worker may file a complaint with OSHA or with the equivalent state agency in state-plan states. (See Section One above for more information about filing a complaint).

Injury and Illness Records

An employer’s injury and illness records are another potential resource for finding out about chemical hazards at a specific worksite. OSHA requires many employers with ten or more employees to record all serious work-related injuries and illnesses on standardized forms.[2] When an injury or illness occurs, the employer must fill out an incident report on Form 301 to collect detailed information about the incident. The employer must also include some of the information from Form 301 on OSHA Form 300, which is a log of all injuries or incidents occurring in the establishment involving loss of consciousness, restricted work activity or job transfer, days away from work, or the administration of medical treatment beyond first aid.

Between February 1 and April 30 of each year, employers must prepare Form 300A, a summary of their OSHA 300 log, and post it for employees to view. In addition, current and former employees and their representatives may view a full copy of an employer’s OSHA 300 log at any time by requesting a copy from the employer. Upon receiving the request, the employer must provide the copy by the close of business on the first business day following the request. 

Although these records are unlikely to show chronic illnesses suffered by workers due to long-term exposure to a chemical, workers may learn about on-the-job injuries or illnesses associated with an acute chemical exposure. For example, reviewing injury and illness logs for respiratory distress (e.g., difficulty breathing or asthma), burning eyes, or skin rashes, burns, or contact dermatitis may help workers understand they are being exposed to hazardous chemicals at work. However, it is important to recognize that this information may be limited because employers need only record injuries or illnesses that require medical treatment beyond first aid. If the OSHA 300 information is not provided to workers annually or upon request, employees can file a complaint against the employer.

Workers may also request these injury and illness records to determine if an employer is keeping accurate records in accordance with OSHA regulations. If not, employees can file a complaint with OSHA asking for the agency to cite the employer for failure to record an incident or incidents, so long as the specific injuries or illnesses did not occur more than six months prior.

Requesting this information from an employer may raise the risk of adverse action in response. Often workers are rightly worried that requesting information will trigger retaliation from their employers. Although OSHA does have a procedure for protecting workers from such retaliation, many retaliation complaints are unsuccessful because OSHA has found it difficult to prove an employer’s reason for some action against an employee was their complaint to the agency.

In addition to recording injuries and illnesses on an OSHA 300 log, employers are also required to notify OSHA whenever a worker is killed or hospitalized, such as from an acute exposure to a toxic chemical. Occupational diseases that do not materialize right away will not appear on injury and illness logs. OSHA maintains a database of all worker fatalities reported to the federal office or to state OSH agencies, accessible at https://www.osha.gov/dep/fatcat/dep_fatcat.html. Additionally, a database of severe injuries reported to federal OSHA as of January 1, 2015, can be found at https://www.osha.gov/severeinjury/index.html. However, OSHA does not post severe injury reports from state-plan states, so workers in those states would need to check with the state OSH agency to see if this information is publicly accessible.

Exposure Records, Medical Monitoring, and Air Sampling Data

Beyond OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard, some individual chemical standards require employers to conduct air sampling (i.e., exposure monitoring) of the worksite or to offer certain types of medical testing to workers who have been exposed to toxic substances. Under OSHA’s standard on Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records,[3] employees have a right to request, examine, and copy without charge their own medical or exposure records and any analyses of employee medical and exposure records that concern working conditions or the workplace. Workers may also provide written permission to any designated representative of their choice to review their exposure or medical records. Certified collective bargaining agents may access employee exposure records and exposure analyses without the employee’s written consent, but must have written consent to access an employee’s medical records.

OSHA also maintains a searchable database where users can find establishment-specific industrial hygiene air sampling data collected by OSHA compliance officers. Although OSHA has not collected data for every worksite and does not necessarily indicate whether worksites found in the database were in violation of an OSHA standard, the database may help users learn more about chemicals and exposures at a particular worksite or in the same industry as their employer. The sampling data are available at www.osha.gov/opengov/healthsamples.html.

NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluations

Workers experiencing adverse health symptoms that they believe are due to chemicals in the workplace may submit a request to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE), an assessment of potential health hazards at the worksite.

Key Resources

Download the HHE Request Form: www.cdc.gov/niosh/hhe/pdf/hhe_request_form_fillable.pdf

Review the NIOSH Handbook for HHE Requests: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2014-136/pdfs/2014-136.pdf

Search HHE Reports (through 2010): www2a.cdc.gov/hhe/search.asp

NIOSH is a subdivision of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that focuses exclusively on occupational safety and health research. Upon request, NIOSH’s HHE program will often evaluate a worksite free of charge to help identify workplace health hazards, such as chemical exposures, and inform both an employer and its workers about the hazards present and methods for addressing those hazards.

The lengthy time it takes NIOSH to complete an HHE is one drawback to this approach. Nonetheless, when the source of work-related illnesses is unknown, an HHE can be an effective means of determining the source. Another drawback is that NIOSH’s recommendations are not enforceable against the employer. However, the recommendations can serve as a record showing that an employer is aware of a hazard, a key element for OSHA to prove that an employer has violated the general duty clause of the OSH Act.

Due to limited resources, NIOSH may not grant all HHE requests it receives. However, if it does grant a request, NIOSH may respond by conducting either a telephone consultation or a comprehensive on-site evaluation. During a phone consultation, officials will communicate with the employer and employees, and review reports on exposure, illness, and injury. Within roughly three months of the consultation, NIOSH will issue a letter with its findings and proposed recommendations.

Case Study: HHE of Chemical Exposure at a Hospital

When hospital employees experienced symptoms such as burning eyes, nose bleeds, headaches, dizziness, and skin rashes, they became concerned that the adverse health effects were the result of exposure to a sporicidal product containing hydrogen peroxide, peracetic acid, and acetic acid. The employees submitted a confidential request to NIOSH for an HHE.

NIOSH responded by visiting the hospital to observe workers carrying out their cleaning tasks, collected samples, and discussed procedures for recording injuries and illnesses with the appropriate hospital representatives. NIOSH returned to the hospital multiple times over the course of several months to perform air sampling; assess the heating, air conditioning, and ventilation system; and administer surveys and a questionnaire…. Read more

If NIOSH decides to conduct an on-site evaluation, officials will typically visit the worksite within three months of the request. During the visit, evaluators will seek to identify potential health hazards, assess exposures, conduct symptom surveys, perform medical testing, and test engineering controls.[4] NIOSH seeks to publish a report with its findings and recommendations for the employer within a year of the site evaluation. It also makes the report available online (without naming the specific employer) and shares it with relevant state health agencies.

Certain elements of an HHE request make it more likely that NIOSH will conduct an on-site evaluation. For instance, a request filed by three or more employees, by a union, or by an employer gives the HHE program the right to enter the workplace. An on-site evaluation is also more likely if a request concerns hazards for which there is no OSHA standard, such as chemical exposures not well understood but that appear to cause workers at the establishment to experience symptoms of potential health problems.

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know

As noted in Section Two, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) is a federal law governing community preparedness for potential chemical emergencies. Under the EPCRA provisions dealing with reporting requirements for storing hazardous chemicals, the law includes community right-to-know provisions to ensure the public has access to information about chemicals stored at, used by, or released from individual facilities within a community.

Facilities that store hazardous substances above certain thresholds on site must report that data to state and local officials and the local fire department on Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory forms, called “Tier I” or “Tier II” reports. Facilities must also maintain SDSs for any chemical that meets a certain threshold quantity and submit the SDSs and provide any inventory of those chemicals to state and local officials, as well as to local fire departments.

Under the toxic chemical release inventory component of the statute, facilities must submit annually to EPA documentation of how much of each chemical was managed through recycling, energy recovery, treatment, and environmental releases. The forms submitted by the facilities are compiled in EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and made available to the public.

Workers can access this information to find out about chemical hazards and accidental releases at their worksite or in their community. EPA does not make all of the information reported under EPCRA and various other environmental statutes available online, although it does provide access to TRI data. State environmental agencies may provide access to some materials, such as Tier II reports.

The Houston Chronicle, a newspaper with an award-winning history of reporting on chemical hazards, has made much of the data required by EPCRA and other statutes available through its Right-to-Know Network (RTK Net) at http://www.rtk.net. Users can browse industrial facilities’ Risk Management Plans submitted to EPA (in accordance with the Clean Air Act), and chemical release information contained in TRI, as well as find hazardous waste reports required by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and chemical spills and incidents reported to the National Response Center (NRC).

Workers can also look to the information reported by facilities to learn whether their employer is diligent in tracking the use and disposal of toxic chemicals across the various reports. If an employer is not properly reporting data to EPA or failing to make that information publicly available in accordance with the statute, workers can submit a tip to EPA. EPCRA also deputizes citizens to file suit against an owner or operator of a facility for failure to submit a follow-up emergency notice, submit a safety data sheet, complete and submit an inventory form containing required information, or complete and submit a toxic chemical release form for TRI chemicals.[5] Submitting tips to EPA and filing citizen suits are discussed more above in Section One.

State Right-to-Know Laws and Databases

Several states have enacted “right-to-know” laws that require companies to provide information to the public about toxic chemicals. For example, California’s Proposition 65[6] guarantees individuals the right to information about cancer-causing chemicals before they are exposed to them. Under Prop 65, businesses that sell consumer products in the state must provide a warning if the products contain chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in accordance with Prop 65, annually publishes a list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive harm.[7]

States are also beginning to require disclosure of ingredients used in certain products. California, for example, recently enacted the first state disclosure law in the nation requiring the listing of cleaning product ingredients directly on their labels.[8] Starting January 1, 2021, each household and commercial cleaning product or disinfectant must include a label identifying allergens and chemicals of concern. Other ingredients must be disclosed on the manufacturer’s website beginning in 2020, including fragrances, intentionally added ingredients, and any of 34 contaminants, if the substance is present at or above a concentration of 100 parts per million. Additionally, the online disclosure must include the chemical substance’s CAS number — a unique numerical identifier assigned to every chemical substance by the Chemical Abstracts Service, a division of the American Chemical Society.

New York has also recently begun to require disclosure of ingredients in commercial and household cleaning products.[9] Specifically, all intentionally added ingredients, contaminants, fragrances, and allergens must be disclosed online on the manufacturer’s website. A centralized database of manufacturers’ websites will be made available on the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2) website at http://www.theic2.org.  

Because these disclosures must be made online, workers in every state have access to this information.

Accessing Federal Agency Data

OSHA’s Integrated Management Information System (IMIS)

OSHA provides a search tool on its website, https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/establishment.html, allowing anyone to look up inspection and enforcement reports for a specific establishment. Such data can provide workers and their representatives with useful information about a particular workplace, such as the number of times OSHA has inspected it, the types of violations OSHA has cited, and any penalties imposed against the employer. However, OSHA conducts few inspections and collects even fewer exposure samples, meaning some establishments may not have any recent inspection or enforcement data available. As a result, lack of data does not mean an employer is complying with OSHA standards.

Even if inspection and enforcement reports are available for a specific worksite, they are unlikely to provide much information related to chemical exposures. One reason for that is that OSHA has few chemical-specific standards in place, and thus, when an unregulated chemical presents an occupational health or safety hazard, the employer is not in violation of a specific standard. Similarly, where a chemical exposure standard exists but is so weak that only exposures at enormous levels would violate it, a chemical may present a health risk at a level that is technically within the legal limits. In either scenario, the inspector would not be able to cite the employer for a violation of a chemical-specific standard. OSHA might cite the employer for another type of violation related to the exposure, such as a recordkeeping violation, or a general duty clause violation, but determining whether this relates to a chemical hazard would require a detailed review of each citation.

Department of Labor Enforcement Database

The Labor Department’s enforcement database, https://enforcedata.dol.gov, compiles enforcement data from multiple divisions of the agency, including OSHA, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD), and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The database includes an interactive search tool that is easy to navigate even for beginners. For more experienced data crunchers, it also offers a catalog where users can download large datasets for each of the agency divisions.

EPA Enforcement & Compliance History Online

EPA’s Enforcement & Compliance History Online (ECHO) database, at https://echo.epa.gov, makes it easy for users of all experience levels to search for a facility’s enforcement and compliance data across all of the federal laws over which EPA has jurisdiction. Users can also filter the search to find information related to specific types of violations, enforcement actions, and much more.

OSHA Hazard Alerts

OSHA sometimes sends Hazard Alerts to employers warning them about industry-specific dangers and providing guidance on how employers can protect workers who may be at risk of exposure to those dangers. Hazard alert letters may be issued for any health or safety hazard, and sometimes these alerts include toxic chemicals. For example, in January 2013, OSHA issued a hazard alert on Methylene Chloride Hazards for Bathtub Refinishers.[10] The alert explains that at least 14 worker deaths between 2000 and 2013 were related to bathtub refinishing with stripping agents that contained methylene chloride, a volatile solvent that can produce adverse health effects, including death from exposure at low levels, especially when used in poorly ventilated spaces.

Workers can explore OSHA’s hazard alerts webpage, www.osha.gov/ooc/alerts-letters.html, to determine if any have been issued for the industry in which they work. The hazard alert will describe the hazard, the health effects, and the controls employers should institute to protect workers. Workers can also compare the information from a hazard alert to other sources described throughout this guide.

OSHA’s Occupational Chemical Database

OSHA’s chemical database, www.osha.gov/chemicaldata, allows users to find reports on specific chemicals that describe the chemical’s physical properties, exposure guidelines, hazard information, and emergency response information. Users can search by chemical name or Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) number.

OSHA Tables Comparing PELs with other Limits

For the purposes of comparing OSHA’s PELs with stronger exposure limits from other sources, OSHA has developed a table, https://www.osha.gov/dsg/annotated-pels/tablez-1.html,  comparing its existing PELs with limits developed by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

NIOSH Pocket Guide

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), has published the “NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards” and made it available online, www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/default.html, as well as in print, in PDF, and via a mobile app. The guide provides specific information on 677 chemicals or substances commonly found in occupational settings. Although the information is useful for conducting research on these chemicals, the exposure limits found in the guide are not necessarily protective and should not be relied on as an indication of what constitutes a safe level of exposure.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry ToxFAQs

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) Division of Toxicology offers easy-to-understand summaries about individual toxic substances, from acetone to zinc. All of the summaries, https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs, are made available in English, and many are available in one or more other languages. The summaries describe the substance, what happens when it enters the environment, how humans might be exposed, how it affects human health, whether or not it is likely to cause cancer, if medical testing is available, and whether or not the federal government has imposed any restrictions on the substance.

EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)

EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) conducts risk assessments of chemicals, groups of chemicals, and mixtures to determine the hazards they present to human health. EPA makes these assessments available to the public on its website, https://www.epa.gov/iris. Users can search for IRIS assessments by chemical, CAS number, or keyword. The data can serve as a useful comparison or supplement to information obtained through other sources; however, assessments are written in technical terms, making them difficult to understand without a science background.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests

Sample FOIA Request Letter for Individuals

[Date]

[FOIA Officer Title]
[Name of Federal Agency]
[Street Address]
[City, State, Zip Code]
Re: Freedom of Information Act Request; Fee Waiver Request

Dear [FOIA Officer Title]:

Pursuant to the federal Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. §552, I request access to and a copy of all records created, received, or disseminated by the [Federal Agency] over the past [#] years relating to [describe the subject matter, being as specific as possible].

I would like to receive the information by electronic mail sent to [e-mail address or mailing address], as it becomes available. If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the Act. I also ask that you release all non-exempt portions of otherwise exempt materials….

View PDF
View TXT File
Download Word File

When the U.S. government possesses information about chemicals that is not widely available to the public, one way to obtain it is to submit a formal request to the federal agency that is most likely to have the sought-after information. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires federal agencies to provide information to any person who requests it, unless the information falls under one of several exclusions or exemptions to the law, such as the exemption from disclosing information pertaining to confidential business information.[11] Before filing a FOIA request, the best practice is to simply contact the agency by phone or send an email requesting the information to see if they will provide it without the need for a formal letter. If they do not reply in a reasonable time, or fail to provide all the materials sought, then a formal FOIA request is in order.

Submitting a FOIA request is as simple as drafting a short letter to the agency’s FOIA Office. The letter may be printed and mailed, or depending on the agency, submitted electronically through an online portal, or by email or fax. A FOIA request should describe as clearly as possible the record(s) requested and specify whether the agency should provide the information in print or electronically.

Information about submitting a FOIA request is available online at https://www.FOIA.gov. This website explains the process, answers questions about fees and fee waivers, and gives access to agency-specific procedures. It also links to data that agencies have previously produced in response to FOIA requests.

Although the Freedom of Information Act is limited to information in the possession of federal government agencies, most states have adopted similar laws for obtaining information from state agencies.

Researching Other Public Databases

U.S. ChemHAT

The Chemical Hazard and Alternatives Toolbox, or ChemHAT, www.chemhat.org, is a publicly available database of information about safer alternatives to dangerous chemicals. The database was launched by the Blue Green Alliance as a means of determining if a chemical is dangerous, and if so, identifying safer alternatives to that chemical.

Pharos Database

A project of Healthy Building Network (HBN), the Pharos database, www.pharosproject.net, contains information about health and environmental hazards associated with more than 100,000 chemicals, polymers, metals, and other substances. The downside to this resource is that it requires a paid subscription, but the upside is that it offers a free trial. Workers looking for information can take advantage of the free trial or consult with their union, a local COSH group, or a worker advocacy organization, which may have a subscription and be able to help with finding information particular to the chemicals of concern in their workplace. Once inside the database, users have an option to search the Pharos Building Product Library by product manufacturer or product type. Users can also search for specific chemicals and materials under a separate tab.

Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse

The Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2) is a collaborative effort by state, local, and tribal governments committed to providing agencies, businesses, and the public with information about chemicals and chemical assessments and to identifying safer alternatives to toxic chemicals. On the IC2 website, http://theic2.org/, users can search a database of state chemical legislation and policies. The website also contains lists of states’ chemicals of concern and access to chemical hazard assessments.

Toxics Use Reduction Institute

The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) is located at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) of 1989 established the institute. TURI is focused on reducing toxic chemical usage, protecting public health and the environment, and collaborating with businesses and government to find safer alternatives to toxics. Through TURI’s website, https://www.turi.org/, users can find fact sheets on a host of chemical substances, listed in alphabetical order. Additionally, TURI collects data from roughly 600 companies in Massachusetts on the toxic chemicals they used and toxic byproducts they generated over the previous year. The database is called “TURAData” and is available through TURI’s website.

RISCTOX

The RISCTOX database, https://risctox.istas.net/en, includes data on the health and environmental risks of more than 100,000 chemicals in both Spanish and English. The database was developed by the Instituto Sindical de Trabajao, Ambiente y Salud (ISTAS), commissioned by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) and supported by the European Environmental Bureau. Users can compare the information found on RISCTOX with information found through other sources to get a comprehensive understanding of a chemical’s potential harm. A limitation of the database for U.S. users is that, although it provides information about whether the specific chemical is subject to restriction, it only includes European restrictions.

European Union REACH Program

In 2007, the European Union (EU) adopted a regulatory program — the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) — to address toxic chemicals that present risks to health and the environment. Through this program, users from all over the world can search a database of chemicals, https://echa.europa.eu/information-on-chemicals, to find information about health and environmental effects. This database can help users find information about chemicals that have not been assessed by U.S agencies or to supplement assessment data from other sources.  

Project ToxicDocs

Through the Project ToxicDocs database, www.toxicdocs.org, a project of Columbia University and the City University of New York, users can easily access millions of once-secret documents about toxic substances obtained from private chemical firms through toxic tort litigation. A simple keyword search will scan the text of documents in this database and return a range of information, including emails, internal memoranda, board minutes, unpublished studies, and more.

DocumentCloud

Document Cloud, www.documentcloud.org, offers a free catalog of primary source documents on a virtually endless number of topics, including toxic substances. Although this service is intended for journalists, anyone can search the catalog and review documents without needing to register for an account. For beginners, a simple text search for keywords will return a wealth of information. For example, a search for the phrase “silica exposure” returned over 1,000 available documents.

Conclusion

Every worker has the right to a healthy workplace free of toxic hazards that could cause illness, injury, or death. Yet employers sometimes ignore the most silent and invisible killer in the workplace: toxic chemicals. Despite a number of laws intended to protect workers, political opposition, budgetary constraints, and the lack of political will stand in the way of meaningful progress toward addressing weak and outdated standards or adopting new safeguards.

Workers, their representatives, and advocates can take action even when government agencies’ efforts are lacking or have stalled. Numerous resources explored in this manual are readily available to learn about chemical hazards, health effects, and measures to eliminate or reduce exposures in the workplace. When employers ignore workers’ concerns, workers have several options for holding their employers accountable, from filing complaints with government agencies, to suing employers themselves, to advocacy beyond the workplace. Joining in solidarity with coworkers, worker representatives, union leaders, advocates, and fenceline communities to raise concerns about toxic chemicals in the workplace will ensure employers hear their shared concerns and their demands to move to safer alternatives and eliminate toxic chemicals from the workplace.

 


[1] Letter of Interpretation from John A. Pendergrass, Assistant Sec’y of Occupational Safety & Health, U.S. Dep’t of Labor, to Richard F. Andree, Executive Vice President, Safety & Health Mgmt., Consultants, Inc. (Feb. 24, 1988), https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/1988-02-24.

[2] 29 C.F.R. § 1904.35 (2018); see also OSHA Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements, Occupational Safety & Health Admin., https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/index.html (last visited Feb. 13, 2019).

[3] 29 C.F.R. § 1910.1020 (2018).

[4] Nat’l Inst. for Occupational Safety & Health, U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., Health Hazard Evaluation Program: What Employees Should Know 2 (2014), https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2014-136/pdfs/2014-136.pdf.

[5] 42 U.S.C. § 11046(a)(1) (2018).

[6] Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 25249.5–25249.14.

[7] The Proposition 65 List, Off. of Envtl. Health Hazard Assessment, https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/proposition-65-list (last updated Nov. 23, 2018).

[8] Cleaning Product Right to Know Act, 2017 Cal. Stat. Ch. 830.

[9] New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program (June 6, 2018), https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/materials_minerals_pdf/cleansingprodfin.pdf.

[10] Occupational Safety & Health Admin., OSHA-HA-3623-2013, Hazard Alert: Methylene Chloride Hazards for Bathtub Refinishers (2013), https://www.osha.gov/dts/hazardalerts/methylene_chloride_hazard_alert.pdf.

[11] 5 U.S.C. § 552 (2018).