How are OSHA regulations different from EPA ones?

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates workplace safety, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets rules to limit environmental pollution. A manufacturer that produces contaminated air in any serious volume should be aware of both sets of regulations.

OSHA’s regulations for air quality often come in the form of permissible exposure limits (PEL’s) for workers. These standards limit how much of a certain substance a worker can be exposed to over a typical shift. If exposure exceeds that limit, an employer can be cited and possibly fined. OSHA maintains ten regional field offices, as well as area offices in most states, to inspect facilities, help employers meet the regulations and enforce the rules in case of noncompliance.

The EPA’s regulations are different—most of the relevant standards for manufacturers are based on the Clean Air Act. These regulations limit how much of a particular substance a company can release into the environment. Their concern is the health effects of these substances on the surrounding community. The EPA maintains a list of air emissions sources:

  • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
  • Ozone (O3)
  • Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
  • Particulate Matter (PM)
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO)
  • Lead (Pb)

Some of these limits affect typical manufacturers. If a facility is producing contaminated air—say, through a large welding operation—and exhausting all of it to the outside, the company may be breaking EPA regulations. Failure to comply could lead to citations and penalties.

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