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California Issues New Wood Dust Exposure Limits

Last year, the American Wood Council (AWC) built a coalition of interested trade associations, including CPA, to engage with California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA) on a proposed 80% reduction of the wood dust permissible exposure limit (PEL) from 5 to 1 mg/m3.  The coalition provided extensive written and oral comments to Cal-OSHA, including a comprehensive presentation on technical feasibility and issues with using outdated historical references to support the new PEL.  Based on feedback from CPA members and other participating trade groups, the coalition decided to advocate for a PEL no lower than 2 mg/m3.  

On January 19, Cal-OSHA’s Board voted against the proposal to lower the PEL to 1 mg/m3, which meant that the agency would need to initiate a new rulemaking process.  However, shortly after that vote, the Board reversed course and decided to support a PEL equal to 2 mg/m3.  Cal-OSHA then published a new Final Rule with a 15-day public comment period in early February.  The new standard establishes a PEL of 2 mg/m3 for all wood except western red cedar, which has a PEL of 0.5 mg/m3.  The effective date of the Final Rule was July 1, 2017. 

During the AWFS tradeshow last week, Stewart Holm with AWC provided a summary of the scientific issues associated with the Cal-OSHA process to establish the new wood dust exposure limits.  See Cal-OSHA Rule and AWC AWFS Presentation.  More Info: Gary Heroux

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