E-Limit tool makes it easier to find exposure limits – Speaking of Safety

The E-Limit tool gives workers, employers, and occupational hygiene professionals easy access to exposure limits for B.C. 

Photo of Industrial welder with torch and protective helmet.

Photo credit: gettyimages.ca/Kerkez

An exposure limit is “the maximum allowed airborne concentration for a particular substance from which nearly all workers are believed to experience no adverse health effects over a working lifetime.” In other words, it’s the maximum limit for safe use.

Let’s say a B.C. company is considering a new brand of paint to use in a manufacturing process. The employer would likely ask the joint occupational health and safety committee to find out more information about the chemicals in it. The workers and managers on the joint committee start with the safety data sheet for the paint and look for the chemicals listed on it.

For each of these chemicals, there is an exposure limit. Knowing these limits is part of assessing risks and being sure workers are protected. (Read more in my post How much is too much chemical exposure at work?)

Getting this information is now a lot easier, thanks to WorkSafeBC’s E-Limit search tool. E-Limit is a searchable database of exposure limits in B.C. (Each province in Canada sets its own exposure limits.) The tool includes more than 800 substances that are provided in the Table of Exposure Limits for Chemical and Biological Substances.

To find out more about how the tool is being used, I spoke with Jeanette Campbell, a senior occupational hygienist with WorkSafeBC’s Risk Analysis Unit. Jeanette is part of the team that developed and tested E-Limit.

Find information about health hazards

Jeanette has been working with wildland firefighting crews, and she says they often ask about the health effects of carbon monoxide exposure. They also ask why the exposure limit is set where it is.

Jeanette says that, before E-Limit, it was a complex process to find the information. You’d need to search a guideline online to find the exposure limit for carbon monoxide. If there were additional requirements, you would also need to know what sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation to reference. Finding the health effects required a different resource altogether.

With the E-Limit tool, now you can find all that information in one location. See more information about exposure limits from WorkSafeBC.

In the past, Jeanette was a WorkSafeBC prevention officer. “From an officer’s perspective, it’s really handy when you’re on the phone talking to stakeholders about a particular substance. I can just type in a search, rather than relying on my memory.”

Thanks to Jeanette for answering all my questions. Knowing exposure limits helps to maintain a safe work environment and can play an important part in preventing occupational disease.

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