The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 created two new government agencies designed to protect the workers of America; the National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH) and Health and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, commonly known as NIOSH, is a branch of Public Health Service and is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States government. NIOSH was formed to conduct research in the field of disease and injury; and, based on its findings, make industry recommendations. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is a division of the Department of Labor, and was formed to regulate workplace standards and policies based on NIOSH recommendations. Together, the two agencies recognize and solve potential work-related health issues.

Without it being a regulatory function, NIOSH was given responsibility to go into the work place at the request of workers to assist them in solving occupational safety and health problems that they may encounter. NIOSH immediately began to conduct research studies focused on asbestos exposure. The conclusive evidence, asbestos causes cancer. NIOSH’s formal recommendations were made in 1972, when OSHA passed its first standard (recommended levels of asbestos exposure) at five fibers per cubic centimeter. This standard set a limit on permissible exposure, specifying safety practices and protections for employees handling these products. OSHA also required that all manufacturers and distributors of asbestos-containing materials apply warning labels to their products. On July 1, 1976, OSHA reduced the permissible exposure to two fibers per cc, based on NIOSH recommendations. In 1986, the standard was reduced again to 0.2 fibers per cc, and then in 1994, the standard was lowered to the current concentration of .1 fibers per cc.


Additional Information

These government agencies and non-governmental organizations warn of the health hazards associated with asbestos exposure: