The PEL, or Permissible Exposure Limit, is a standard in the United States that governs how much of a particular substance or physical agent that an employee can be safely exposed to. This is often called the OSHA PEL since these standards are set forth by OSHA. Any exposure beyond the PEL is considered to be harmful to the health or safety of the employee and must be avoided. If exposure above the PEL is necessary, the employees need to be using some type of personal protection equipment to mitigate the danger.

For chemicals, the PEL is most often listed in parts per million (PPM). This will allow an employee or employer to identify which products or solutions are going to be above the PEL. For other things, the Pel may be measured in milligrams per cubic meter.

In addition to measuring the safe exposure limit of chemicals, the PEL can also be applied to various other hazards. One of the most common examples of this is exposure to loud noises. When employees are working in a loud factory, for example, they need to wear hearing protection if the noise levels are above the PEL. For noise limits, the PEL is usually listed as a time-weighted average. This means that employers need to know the average exposure of noise above a set decibel level throughout the course of the day.

Understanding the PEL of all the substances, solutions, and physical contaminants of a facility is necessary for complying with the limits set forth by OSHA. These are regulatory limitations, which means that a company can be fined or experience other penalties if they do not take steps to ensure employees are not exposed to any hazard that is above the PEL. In general, companies will want to require PPE well before an employee reaches the PEL to ensure they are safe and that they are in compliance with all OSHA requirements.


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