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SUMMARY: These final standards amend the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) standards issued June 17, 1986 (51 FR 22612, 29 CFR 1910.1001, June 20, 1986) for occupational exposure to asbestos in general industry, and the construction industry, 29 CFR 1926.1101 (previously 1926.58). In addition, they include a separate standard covering occupational exposure to asbestos in the shipyard industry, (29 CFR 1915.1001). Major revisions in these standards include a reduced time-weighted-average permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter (f/cc) for all asbestos work in all industries, a new classification scheme for asbestos construction and shipyard industry work which ties mandatory work practices to work classification, a presumptive asbestos identification requirement for "high hazard" asbestos containing building materials, limited notification requirements for employers who use unlisted compliance methods in high risk asbestos abatement work, and mandatory methods of control for brake and clutch repair.
In response, SESAC drafted alternative regulatory text which it submitted to this rulemaking docket with the recommendation that it be adopted as a vertical asbestos standard for shipyards (29 CFR 1915, Ex. 7-77). The Committee stated: "Maritime is neither general industry nor construction -- it is maritime. "This committee was formed by the Secretary of Labor with the objective in its charter to "recommend * * * one comprehensive set of standards* * *for the shipbuilding, ship repair and shipbreaking industries* * *" (Advisory Committee Charter).
Relatedly, the Great Lakes Carriers Associates, representing fleets on the Great Lakes, wanted assurance that asbestos exposures of seamen aboard vessels will continue to be regulated by the Coast Guard under an existing Memorandum of Understanding between the Coast Guard and OSHA (Ex. 7-8). OSHA does not intend to alter the agreement it has with the Coast Guard. Rather, the maritime standard under discussion concerns shipbuilding, ship repair and ship-breaking activities (29 CFR part 1915, Shipyards).
The studies considered by Dr. Oliver consisted of one involving 120 Boston public school custodians (Tr. 1026) which she conducted and found pleural plaques in 33% (N = 40) of the group. Further she noted that in 21% (of the 40, or 12 individuals) there was no known exposure to asbestos outside work as school custodian. In 18% of the group and 17 % of those with no outside exposure to asbestos, she observed a restrictive pulmonary defect, significantly associated with duration of employment as school custodian. Other studies described by Dr. Oliver, in the docket include: a study of 666 New York school custodians, reporting only x-ray data (Ex. 47). For all groups of workers, the lung abnormality seen on x-ray was associated with duration of work as custodian: a study of 1,117 insulation workers (likely to have had extensive asbestos exposure) by Dr. Irving Selikoff, in which workers were followed for up to 27 years prospectively, in which pleural plaques were found and which were concluded to be predictive of lung cancer mortality (Tr. 1036 and Ex. 124A): a study, by Balmes (Ex. 124 DD, Tr. 1036, Ex. 1-374) of approximately 900 school district employees in California were determined as likely to have been exposed to asbestos. The authors concluded, "More than 11 percent of workers known to have sustained exposure to ACM in school building, without history of exposure to asbestos prior to school district employment, and with at least 10 years of employment with the district had radiographic evidence of parenchymal asbestosis and/or asbestos-related pleural thickening" (Ex. 1-374, p. 547). After adjusting for smoking and age, the relative risk was 1.3 times greater for those with 10 years or more employment compared with those who had just begun working for the school district.
OSHA believes its approach balances the concern that asbestos exposure levels vary from job to job and may be non-predictive of future levels with the Agency's knowledge gained from long-term enforcement of the asbestos standard, that different employers have different "track records." The negative initial exposure assessment provisions require consideration of factors which have been identified as influencing the variability of results. In fact, one commenter stated that "* * * it is invalid to predict that any particular operation is always below the PEL," identified critical contributing variables as "the materials, work practices and experience of the crew" (Ex. 7-52). OSHA is requiring the "negative exposure assessment" to be based on these, among other, factors. OSHA emphasizes that a "negative exposure assessment" does not predict exposure levels beyond a particular job. A new assessment must be produced each time another job is undertaken. Employers may evaluate repetitive operations with highly similar characteristics, as one job, such as cable pulling in the same building, so long as the historic data used also reflect repetitive operations of the same duration and frequency.
There is overwhelming record support for the use of wet methods (e.g., Exs. 7-1, 7-34, 7-37, 7-51, 7-52, 7-74, 7-86, 7-89, 7-99, 7-132, 119P, 143, Tr. 223, 722 and 756). Representatives of most sectors, expressed support for a requirement for wet methods.(e.g., transite panel removal, Ex.7-74; removal of asbestos packing, Ex. 7-99; floor tile maintenance, Ex 7-132; custodial or maintenance work, Ex. 162-4, 162-25; floor tile and sheet removal, Ex 7-132; sheet gasket removal, Ex 119; cutting of transite pipe, Ex.117, Tab 6 at 5, Tab 7 at 1). B. Kynock of the AIR Coalition endorsed the use of wet methods, stating: "wetting of material is still considered a state of the art engineering control -- using wet methods -- because it is the one definitive way we can keep fiber levels to a minimum" (Tr. 3574). Evidence submitted into the record concerning a variety of asbestos jobs showed significant decreases in exposure levels when wet methods were used, compared to when the work was done dry [see e.g., re: sheet gasket removal (Ex.119-P)]. In the study by Paik et al, 1982 (Ex. 84-204) sprayed-on asbestos containing material was removed from eleven buildings, in one dry methods were employed due to electrical considerations while wet methods were employed in the other buildings. The dry method resulted in a geometric mean fiber level of 16.4 f/cc, while during the use of wet methods the geometric mean was 0.5 f/cc. OSHA notes that the OSHA PEL at the time the samples were taken was 2.0 f/cc.
A historical perspective is useful to clarify this issue. In 1986, OSHA required that all removal, renovation, and demolition operations, except for "small-scale, short duration" operations, be conducted within negative pressure enclosures [29 CFR 1926.58(e)(6)(1986)]. The scope of both the requirement and the exemption was unclear. The requirement did not explicitly apply to "maintenance or repair" operations, though most of the examples given were in that category. The examples cited in the exemption included pipe repair, valve replacement, installing electrical conduits, installing or removing drywall, roofing, and other general building maintenance operations. In addition, OSHA maintained that it was not possible to specify with precision the exact size of a "small-scale" maintenance job or to pinpoint the time involved in a "short-duration" task.
Daniel Bart of GTE Service Corporation expressed concern that by having a time limitation for small-scale, short duration operations in the definition, the installation of telephone cables in buildings might no longer be considered short duration (Ex. 7-87). Dr. Michael Crane of Consolidated Edison, New York objected to the requirement that an operation be non-repetitive in order to qualify as small-scale, short duration (Ex. 7-76). He said, "(t)here are jobs * * * not part of an overall asbestos removal but are performed many times in the course of day during routine maintenance that must be done in generation stations and other utility facilities" [see also the suggestion of Paul Heffernan of Kaselaan&D'Angelo to adopt the concept of "functional space" as designated under AHERA, and defining a non-repetitive operation as occurring once within such a functional space (Ex. 7-36)]. Some also asked if OSHA intended preparation time and clean-up time be included in the duration limits for SSSD (Ex. 7-108).
The study showed that by the time the removal activity reached the fourth (final) building, the work crew, having been "trained" by a variety of on-the-job methods, such as "trial and error," advice from the survey team, and watching a videotape, exposure levels were dramatically reduced. The pre-removal levels were not lower at the final facility, approximately the same amount of asbestos was removed as in the other operations and the authors stated that the lagging was in generally good condition throughout the study -- lending further credence to the hypothesis that the use of improved work practices led to generation of lower fiber levels. The report concluded with a list of recommendations for work practices for glove bag use.
The newly revised construction and shipyard employment standards continue to regulate exposure to employees engaged in repairing and maintaining building components which contain previously installed asbestos containing material. In the 1986 construction standard, most of these jobs were called "small-scale, short-duration operations," but, as discussed above, OSHA was instructed by the Court of Appeals to clarify the cut-offs for that designation. Now, OSHA has determined that separate regulatory treatment of repair and maintenance operations will not be limited by arbitrary duration and amount-of-material-disturbed criteria. Instead, they are called "Class III operations," and are defined as "repair and maintenance operations which may involve intentional disturbance of ACM, including PACM" (see Green Book, Ex. 1-183). The major difference between the newly revised repair and maintenance definitions, is that the amount of material and/or the time the operation takes are no longer the criteria for inclusion in the class.