OSHA Proposes Indoor Air Quality Regulations

Article excerpt

THE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued proposed regulations which, if enacted, will require employers to ban smoking in the workplace or provide separately ventilated areas. The regulations additionally protect workers from various indoor contaminants, poor ventilation and secondhand smoke.

The smoking provisions of the proposed regulations cover virtually all of the 6 million employers under OSHA jurisdiction. The broader indoor air quality provisions would affect approximately 4.5 million nonindustrial employers.

The regulations require employers to implement controls for contaminant sources, including tobacco smoke. An employer must establish designated smoking areas and permit smoking only in such areas. Negative air pressure sufficient to contain tobacco smoke within the designated areas also must be maintained.

Employers additionally would be required to ensure that employees aren't required to enter designated smoking areas in performance of normal work activities, to post signs clearly indicating designated smoking areas and to post signs informing anyone entering the workplace that smoking is restricted to designated areas.

The regulations would require all non-industrial employers to establish an indoor air quality (IAQ) compliance program that includes, at a minimum, a written narrative description of the employer's facility building systems that may impact indoor air quality; building construction schematics locating major building system equipment; information for the daily operation and management of the building systems; a general description of the building and its function; and a written preventative maintenance program for the building systems. Employers would be required to implement measures to restrict entry of outdoor contaminants and control microbial contaminants by routine inspection.

Additional requirements are imposed on cleaning and maintenance chemicals, pesticides and other hazardous chemicals in the workplace; work plan developments for remodeling, renovation or similar activities; and prior notice to employees when air contaminants may be introduced in the work areas. …