Adjusting Occupational Exposure Limits for Extended Work Shifts


OSHA currently has two standards in which the PEL is adjusted based on the length of the work shift, both of which are lead standards:

All other PELs are based upon 8-hour time weighted average (TWA), a short term exposure limit (STEL), or a ceiling limit (C).

The lead PEL of 50 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) is adjusted in accordance with the following formula:

New PEL = 400/hours worked during shift

e.g. If an employee works a 10 hour shift, the PEL is reduced from 50 ug/m3 to 40 ug/m3

Additionally, as discussed in‘s post PEL Adjustments for Extended Work Shifts – Noise, the Action Level for noise must be reduced for extended work shifts based on the following formula:

New AL (dBA) = 90 + 16.61 x log (50 / (12.5 x number of hours worked))

e.g. If an employee works a 10 hour shift, the PEL is reduced to 83 dBA

From a recommended practice standpoint, the Brief and Scala model provides a easy method of reducing exposure limits and is noted ACGIH’s TLVs and BEIs documentation. The Brief and Scala model provides a reduction factor via the following formula:

Reduction Factor = (8 x hours worked in shift) x ((24 – hours worked in shift) / 16)

It should be noted that the Brief and Scala model should not be used to justify very high exposures for short durations.

e.g. If an employee works a 10 hour shift, the reduction factor is 0.7. Multiply 0.7 times to the Exposure Limit to determine the recommended limit using the Brief and Scala model.

Additionally, it should be noted that OSHA does have PEL adjustments for cotton dust, but only when employees are required to wear respirators to reduce their respective exposures.

Risk Assessment Proposal Removed From the Table

dept-of-laborThe Department of Labor is withdrawing the risk assessment proposal in June according to representatives of OSHA. Issued by the Bush Administration in July 2008, critics stated the proposed rule would have added additional time to the rulemaking process which would have “dramatically weakened future workplace health and safety regulations and slow their enactment.”

Furthermore, critics had three main concerns pertaining to the proposal:

  • Definition of a working life from 45 years to an average number of years.
  • Calls for an uncertainty analysis but provides no clear guidance on how to conduct one.
  • Limits pertaining to regulatory action to hazards associated with “clinically apparent adverse health outcomes.”

A letter issued to former secretary Chao by public health professionals from around the country stated:

“By oversimplifying the risk assessment process, demanding an unachievable quantification of uncertainty, and defining adverse effects in a narrow manner that overlooks medical reality, the Department has created a proposed regulation that will hamper the OSHA and MSHA in their Congressionally-mandated duties to protect workers’ health from toxic agents.”

A copy of this letter can be found here. (

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Average Salaries of Industrial Hygienists, Occupational Health and Safety Specialists, and EHS Managers

(Be sure to check out’s Occupational Health & Safety Professional Salary Survey here for detailed salary information provided by professionals like you!)

Salaries in the Occupational Health and Safety field are in the upper-mid range for professional individuals, with managerial positions being at the top.

Consultant salaries typically start around:

  • $30,000.00 for an entry level position
  • $50,000.00 for 5-8 years of experience
  • $70,000.00 for 8-15 years of experience
  • $90,000.00 for 20+ years of experience

The average Industrial Hygienist salary is approximately $71,650.00.

A quick search of open Industrial Hygiene positions reveals 1300 jobs related to IH with a salary greater than $40,000.00.

  • 100% were $40,000.00 or more
  • 47% were $60,000.00 or more
  • 6% were $100,000.00 or more
  • 2% were $120,000.00 or more

Much like the rest of the economy, salary trends for Certified Industrial Hygienists have seen a sharp drop in 2009, however, there has been an increase since April 2007.

The average Health and Safety Manager (i.e. Safety Professional Manager) salary is approximately $114,490.00.

A quick search of open Safety Professional positions reveals 400+ jobs for safety professionals with a salary greater than $40,000.00.

  • 100% were $40,000.00 or more
  • 69% were $60,000.00 or more
  • 13% were $100,000.00 or more
  • 6% were $120,000.00 or more

Much like the rest of the economy, salary trends for Certified Safety Professionals have seen a sharp drop in 2009.

The average Environmental, Health and Safety Manager salar is approximately $125,800.00.

A quick search of open Environmental, Health and Safety positions reveals 600+ jobs for safety professionals with a salary greater than $30,000.00.

  • 100% were $30,000.00 or more
  • 69% were $50,000.00 or more
  • 17% were $90,000.00 or more
  • 8% were $110,000.00 or more

Much like the rest of the economy, salary trends for Environmental, Health & Safety Managers have seen a sharp drop in 2009.

The National Safety Council’s 2008 Salary Survey contained the following information and can be found HERE

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NIOSH Publication for Surveillance and Screening of Workers Exposed to Nanoparticles

nanotech11Full copy of the publication can be found HERE

“Concerns have been raised about whether workers exposed to engineered nanoparticles are at increased risk of adverse health effects. The current body of evidence about the possible health risks of occupational exposure to engineered nanoparticles is quite small. While there is increasing evidence to indicate that exposure to some engineered nanoparticles can cause adverse health effects in laboratory animals, no health studies of workers exposed to the few engineered nanoparticles tested in animals have been published. The purpose of this document from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is to provide interim guidance about whether specific medical screening, including performing medical tests on asymptomatic workers, is appropriate for these workers.

Medical screening is only one part of what should be considered a complete safety and health management program. An ideal safety and health management program follows a hierarchy of controls and involves various occupational health surveillance measures. Since specific medical screening of asymptomatic workers exposed to engineered nanoparticles has not been extensively discussed in the scientific literature, this document makes recommendations based upon what is known until more rigorous research can be performed.

Currently there is insufficient scientific and medical evidence to recommend the specific medical screening of workers potentially exposed to engineered nanoparticles. Nonetheless, this lack of evidence does not preclude specific medical screening by employers interested in taking precautions beyond existing industrial hygiene measures. If nanoparticles are composed of a chemical or bulk material for which medical screening recommendations exist, these same screening recommendations would be applicable for workers exposed to engineered nanoparticles as well.

As research into the hazards of engineered nanoparticles continues, vigilant reassessment of available data is critical to determine whether specific medical screening is warranted for workers. In the interim, the following recommendations are provided for workplaces where workers may be exposed to engineered nanoparticles in the course of their work:

* Take prudent measures to control exposures to engineered nanoparticles.
* Conduct hazard surveillance as the basis for implementing controls.
* Continue use of established medical surveillance approaches.

NIOSH will continue to collect and evaluate new research findings and update its recommendations about medical screening programs for workers exposed to nanoparticles. NIOSH will also continue to consider the strengths and weaknesses of establishing exposure registries for workers potentially exposed to engineered nanoparticles for future health surveillance and epidemiological studies.”

Study Links Formaldehyde Exposure With Increased Cancer Risk

nih-newsThe National Cancer Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, has released a report detailing the increased risk of blood and lymphatic cancers in workers employed at plants using or producing formaldehyde.

With an average follow-up of 40 years, the report stated a “statistically significant association between death from all blood an lymphatic cancers combined and peak formaldehyde exposure.” The report indicated a mortality risk increase of 37% for workers with the highest peak exposures.

“The overall patterns of risk seen in this extended follow-up of industrial workers, while not definitive, are consistent with a causal association between formaldehyde exposure and cancers of the blood and lymphatic system and warrant continued concern. Further studies are needed to evaluate risks of these cancers in other formaldehyde-exposed populations and to assess possible biological mechanisms,” said lead author of the report, Laura E. Beane Freeman, Ph.D., NCI Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics.

formaldehydeFound throughout industry as a disinfectant, preservative, and by-product, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified formaldehyde as a carcinogen. OSHA has estimated that approximately 2.1 million workers in the United States are exposed to the chemical.

Read the full report, HERE

OSHA Funding Sees 10 Percent Increase in 2010

Within the Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will receive an additional $50 million dollars ($577 million total) for the 2010 budget, a 10 percent increase over last years funding of $522 million.

Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis stated the need for even more money to erase years of static funding. 

Over the past several years, MSHA has received large budget increases, which have allowed the agency to step up its enforcement significantly. OSHA’s budget has remained flat over the last few years.

Upcoming rulings are as follows:

Combustible Dust Podcast & Imperial Sugar Explosion Presentation

Brian Edwards, Director of Engineering at Conversion Technology Inc. discusses specific industries and the dust hazards at each. In addition to how knowledgeable the safety managers and people in industry tend to be and the types of OSHA citations some of these industrial facilities are receiving for failing to address combustible dust hazards.

Combustible Dust & Industry


For an insiders view of a recent combustible dust explosion, take a look at a presentation recently delivered by the President and CEO of Imperial Sugar who suffered tragedy in February 2008.


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Imperial Sugar Presentation

Silica Exposures Guidance Document

sandblastingThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published the document Controlling Silica Exposures in Construction for use in controlling hazards associated with work activities that may contribute to silica exposures that may be harmful to the health of individuals.

Work activities detailed include:

  • Handheld and Stationary Masonry Saws
  • Hand Operated Grinders
  • Jackhammers
  • Mortar Removal
  • Rock Drilling Rigs
  • Drywall Finishing

The document includes information dust control methods, work practices, personal protective equipment, engineering controls, and housekeeping that will limit an employee’s exposure to silica, which is known to cause silicosis.

For example:

Using a stationary saw without engineering controls can cause exposure to respirable silica to reach 2.0 mg/m3 or higher. Therefore, it is important to utilize effective controls to reduce employee exposures. Wet methods present the best choice for suppressing dust while cutting with stationary saws. Studies indicate that effective wet methods can reduce exposures below 0.05 mg/m3, as an 8-hour TWA. Stationary saws can be purchased with water-fed equipment, or existing saws can be retrofitted with water-fed attachments. Respiratory protection should not be necessary when using effective wet methods.

Additionally, the document references the need for conversion from the obsolete unit concentration of millions of particles per cubic foot (mppcf) (the units used in the Construction Industry standard – 29 CFR 1926.55(a)) to the current unit concentration of milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3) (the units used in the General Industry standard – 29 CFR 1910.1000(c)) via the following conversion factor:

1 mppcf = 0.1 mg/m3 respirable dust

Industrial Hygienists to Get Involved in the Event of a Pandemic

pandemic-guideline-cover:Layout 1.qxdThe American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) published guidelines on their website pertaining to industrial hygiene in the event of a pandemic. These recommendations can be used in conjunction with their 2006 Publication, The Role of the Industrial Hygienist in a Pandemic.

Workplace Access and Security

* Restrict and monitor workplace access.
* Establish criteria for refusal of access to unfit workers and criteria for return-to-work.
* Implement telework capabilities where feasible.
* Develop infrastructure to manage meetings by conference call or videoconferencing—when meetings are necessary, keep a separation of at least 6 feet from colleagues and ensure there is adequate ventilation.
* Reduce or eliminate noncritical social interactions.
* Encourage job rotation or staggered shifts to reduce workplace capacity as well as worker exposure risks related to traveling on public transit during peak times.
* Segregate/isolate critical work clusters.
* Reduce or eliminate work in low-ventilated areas.
* Minimize the use of shared facilities for eating and smoking by staggering meals and breaks or designating multiple sites.
* Reduce or eliminate work travel to high-risk regions and encourage workers who are traveling to stay away in the event of a local outbreak.
* Initiate a snow day practice or “reverse quarantine” for nonessential workers.

Labor Relations

* Identify critical production needs and reduce nonessential production.
* Compile priority requirements for key workers with respect to personal protective equipment and training.
* Engage management and workers/union parties in discussions on safe work practices, grievance procedures, and contingencies available for work force, supply chain and production.
* Maintain effective communications between all workplace parties.
* Address dispute resolution regarding health and safety/safe work issues.
* Identify and mitigate unique exposure risks posed by multiple jobs and shifts by part-time or occasional workers.


* Establish call-in hotline.
* Create up-to-the-minute web splash page.
* Launch dedicated “grapevine.”

Germ Control

* Develop a sick leave policy that does not penalize sick employees and encourages them to stay home—recognize that employees with ill family members may need to stay home to care for them.
* Provide resources and a work environment that promotes personal hygiene—provide tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, and disposable towels (for employees to clean their work surfaces).
* Encourage employees to wash hands frequently and avoid touching nose, mouth, and eyes—germs can live for two hours or more on surfaces.
* Encourage employees to cover their coughs and sneezes.
* Provide employees with up-to-date education and training on flu risk factors, protective behaviors, and instruction on proper behaviors (proper cough etiquette and care of personal protective equipment).
* Keep work surfaces, telephones, computer equipment and other frequently touched surfaces and office equipment clean.
* Discourage employees from using phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment that are not their own.
* Promote healthy lifestyles that include plenty of sleep, physical activity, good nutrition, stress management, drinking plenty of fluids, and smoking cessation.
* Cover mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough either with a tissue or upper sleeves then clean your hands.
* Clean hands often, and when possible, wash with soap and warm water, rub vigorously together and scrub all surfaces for 15 to 20 seconds.
* When soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers, rubbing hands until dry.

NAOSH Week – May 3-9, 2009

Developed by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering, the North American Occupational Safety and Health Week will be celebrated May 3-9, 2009 throughout North America. Created in 2002, NAOSH Week is intended to raise awareness about occupational health, safety and environmental issues.


National Events are planned in addition to events in a large number of states (sponsored by local ASSE chapters) and internationally.
Additionally, corporate and organizational promotion includes companies/organizations such as Ford Motor Company, AIHA, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Sprint-Nextel, and OSHA.

ASSE provides some guidance on how you too can get involved:

At Work

* Sponsor a poster contest for your employees’ children and create a Safety Calendar for your staff and clients
* Host a Family Safety Fair or picnic for your company and their families;
* Launch a recognition program for safety suggestions that are put into use or enhance ongoing health and safety practices.
* Conduct an Open House that focuses on health and safety. Involve suppliers. Invite local dignitaries, clients and colleagues.
* Conduct training sessions for employees
* Do local news releases on being safe at work tips for your local media (info. can be found on
* Set up specific safety demonstrations, focused on safe work habits
* Launch a “New Worker” Orientation Manual
* Promote NAOSH Week through articles in your company newsletter
* Insert NAOSH Week messages in correspondence, memorandums, e-mail messages to staff
* Display the free NAOSH Week poster in offices, on bulletin boards, at work stations
* Distribute buttons, stickers, and pens to your staff
* Use NAOSH Week pens, safety whistles, etc as awards for safety achievements!


NIOSH Powertools Database – Noise & Vibration

nioshlogoNIOSH has developed an online database of sound levels and vibration forces for various power tools typically used in the occupational setting. Developed by NIOSH researchers, the database provides information for over 120 power tools from manufactures such as Black & Decker, Mikita and Dewalt. According to NIOSH, “The database is particularly helpful in determining the ‘real-world’ noise level of power tools as they are used on the job.”


For each tool, the database contains a Summary Sheet of results from both “loaded” and “unloaded” testing phases (click HERE for an example). Additionally, the database provides recordings of the noise levels for each of the power tools.

AIHA Petitions OSHA for Lowering Noise PEL, Again

aihaAIHA, in a letter to Jordan Barab of OSHA, strongly encouraged OSHA to consider reducing the 8-hour TWA for noise from 90 dBA to 85 dBA and a 3 decibel exchange rate. A copy of the letter, dated April 28, 2009, can be found HERE. The letter is very similar to one AIHA submitted to Edwin Foulke of OSHA in March of 2007. A copy of this letter can be found HERE.

Is a reduction in the noise PEL on the horizon?