OSHA’s Ethylene Oxide Standard

OSHA’s Ethylene Oxide Standard

The regulation lowers the existing permissible exposure limit from 50 parts per million (ppm) to 1 ppm over an eight-hour period, and sets a short term exposure limit of 5 ppm per fifteen minutes. The standard also requires regular medical surveillance of those potentially exposed, along with exposure monitoring, worker training, and other preventative steps.

Most hospitals complied within 18 months of promulgation.

The required reduction in ppm levels was achieved by replacing or retrofitting the necessary technology, simple changes to already existing work practices and, in some cases, the alteration of existing facilities (ventilation systems, for example) or the construction of entirely new facilities. Around three-quarters of hospitals tried to bring ppm levels to zero, below the required levels set by OSHA.

The regulation also spurred innovation which allowed simpler, and cheaper, reductions of ethylene oxide than those available during the crafting of the regulation.


Backgrounders & Briefs

Gauging Control Technology and Regulatory Impacts in Occupational Safety and Health

Information on multiple OSHA regulations and their costs. In almost every case, the regulations were far cheaper than the agency estimated.