May 22nd, 2002

ACGIH Settles TLV Lawsuits

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In December of 2000, The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) found itself the defendant in three lawsuits over the organization’s published Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs). In March of 2002 a final settlement was reached.

ACGIH develops TLVs and BEIs as guidelines to assist in the control of health hazards. While TLVs and BEIs are recognized guidelines around the world, they are not law and carry no legal enforcement.

In a 2001 statement on work-related musculoskeletal disorders, ACGIH “recognizes [MSDs] as an important occupational health problem that can be managed using an ergonomics health and safety program.” ACGIH states that major program elements should include:

  • Recognition of the problem
  • Evaluation of suspected jobs for possible risk factors
  • Identification and evaluation of causative factors
  • Involvement of workers as fully informed active participants
  • Appropriate health care for workers who have developed musculoskeletal disorders.

ACGIH currently has established TLVs regarding hand-arm (segmental) vibration and whole-body vibration. In addition to these, ACGIH has published a Notice of Intent to Establish TLVs for hand activity level and lifting.

The proposed hand activity level (HAL) TLV is based upon epidemiological, psychosocial, and biomechanical studies and is intended for ‘mono-task’ jobs performed for 4 or more hours per day. The TLV specifically considers average hand activity level as based on the frequency of hand exertions and the duty cycle, and peak hand force which is normalized on a scale of 0-10, which corresponds to 0%-100% of the population reference strength.

Proposed lifting TLVs evaluate the lifting zone, and horizontal distance of a lift while proposing kilogram weight limits.

As part of the lawsuit settlements, ACGIH has revised its statement concerning the use of TLVs and BEIs. The revised statement includes:

“The guidelines, which are developed to assist in the recognition and control of potential workplace health hazards, do not consider economic or technical feasibility, and should not be adopted by government or industry as a matter of course. Rather, they are designed to aid occupational health professionals in evaluating specific workplace situations and conditions. While ACGIH



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