Friday, June 15, 2007

Will there be a showdown between OSHA and local politicians regarding workplace secondhand smoke levels?

Clearing the Air wrote to officials at Minnesota Department of Labor (OSHA), to inquire about air quality testing and OSHA permissible exposure limits.

We questioned officials if they were aware that worldwide secondhand smoke air quality test results confirmed that there is NO workplace health hazard.

We further asked them if the results indicated that local politicians had over stepped their authority and common sense by banning secondhand smoke.......because it does not rise to health hazard claims.

The obvious question then was: When does OSHA have regulatory enforcement authority.....superceding uninformed local politicians?

Here was a Minnesota Labor official's response:

...Minnesota OSHA... has enforcement protect worker's safety and health.....

Given that Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) officials have a far better understanding of workplace air quality hazards and long established permissible exposure limits, they (OSHA) are in a far better position than politicians, who prove to be easy prey by special interest groups; in providing final regulatory enforcement.

OSHA permissible exposure limits (PEL) provide that critical balance allowing business and jobs to proliferate, while also maintaining safe working conditions. If easily influenced politicians are allowed final regulatory authority to ban any and all workplace pollutants such as welding smoke, machining oil mist, ozone produced by office copiers, etc....etc.... businesses, jobs, and the entire free market system will perish under the weight of unreasonable and over regulatory is currently being experienced by the hospitality industry.....worldwide.

We already have a government authority to oversee air quality hazards in the workplace, that authority is OSHA, which ALONE should provide the final regulatory enforcement of secondhand smoke levels..........not politicians.

OSHA itself has stated regarding secondhand smoke:

"Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)...It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded."

-Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Ass't Sec'y, OSHA, To Leroy J Pletten, PHD, July 8, 1997

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