by Jakina Debnam on September 14, 1976
by Jakina Debnam and Council on Wage and Price Stability

In testimony today, the Council on Wage and Price Stability urged the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to modify its proposed standard for exposure to inorganic arsenic in the workplace. The Council’s comments were in response to a proposed standard issued by OSHA on January 21, 1975. That proposal would require smelters, herbicide producers, and others to install engineering controls to reduce the maximum exposure level from the present 0.5 milligrams of arsenic per cubic meter of air to .004 milligrams.

The Council supported the goal of improving worker health and supported regulations that achieve this objective in the most effective and efficient manner. However, it noted that while the proposed standards would cost the industries affected and, ultimately, consumers approximately $111 million per year, the evidence on benefits to be derived in terms of reduced mortality and morbidity is inconclusive. Accordingly, the Council urged that OSHA not require engineering controls at this time but allow employers to meet any standard which is promulgated through adoption of lowest-cost personal protective devices and revised work practices until such time as more conclusive information with respect to benefits comes to light.

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