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September 19, 1996

Public hearing scheduled for required changes to asbestos worker rules

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries will conduct a public hearing here on Oct. 10, 1996, for proposed changes to safety and health rules that regulate worker exposure to the health hazard of asbestos.

The 9:30 a.m. hearing will be held in the auditorium of the L&I central office, 7273 Linderson Way.

The proposed rules, reflecting federally mandated changes, will change several aspects of the way that worker exposure to asbestos is regulated. The proposed standard identifies four categories of risk, based on activities, and the precautions that employers must take to protect their workers.

Also, under terms of the proposed standard, employers must presume that certain materials contain asbestos or have the material determined to be asbestos-free. This presumption is in addition to the current requirement that Washington employers conduct a "good faith" survey when asbestos-containing materials are likely to be disturbed. That requirement will remain in effect.

The proposed standard also requires that employers notify workers, contractors, tenants and anyone else who might be affected that known asbestos-containing materials are present and represent a hazard.

The standard also will require that the employer ensure that a competent person - knowledgeable about the hazard of asbestos - is present on the worksite. In most cases, the competent-person rule will be met by the requirement to have a certified supervisor on the job site. Additionally, the standard also proposes mandatory methods for controlling worker exposure to asbestos-containing materials during brake and clutch repair work.

In addition, the threshold for requiring worker protection for asbestos-containing materials will be lowered to 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter of air. This is known as a permissible exposure level (PEL). This lowered PEL has been in effect under an emergency rule adopted in April.

In addition, written comments may be submitted until Oct. 17 by writing to:

Frank Leuck, assistant director Division of Consultation and Compliance Services P.O. Box 44620 Olympia, WA 98507-4620

Written comments also may be faxed to 360-902-5529. Faxed comments must be 10 pages or less.

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