Cal/OSHA decides not to lower permissible wood dust exposure after AWC testimony

Jan 23, 2017

WASHINGTON – The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) Standards Board declined a staff proposal to lower the existing permissible exposure limit (PEL) for wood dust from 5 milligrams per cubic meter to 1 milligram per cubic meter after testimony from the American Wood Council (AWC).

AWC has been engaged in the process for the last several years and coordinated a small coalition, which included several allied trade associations, to oppose the proposal.

“Cal/OSHA staff had not generated sufficient information to claim the 1 milligram per cubic meter level was feasible to achieve. A PEL of anything less than 2 would force many workers to wear respirators, contrary to the hierarchy of controls,” said AWC Chief Scientist Stewart Holm, who testified.

Ultimately, the Standards Board voted against the recommendation to lower the PEL and asked Cal/OSHA to restart the rulemaking.