WASHINGTON-The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has scrapped its plans to ban aerosol brake cleaners, ruling that the products are a fully legal method for cleaning brakes and clutches. No additional regulatory requirements will be associated with their use. On Feb. 9, Joseph A. Dear, OSHA assistant secretary, announced that the start-up date for compliance with the brake and clutch provisions of OSHA's asbestos standard has been pushed back from April 10 to July 10. The extension will give the agency time to prepare guidance and materials to educate employers and auto mechanics on the regulation's requirements.
In response, the Washington-based National Brake Care Coalition (NBCC) said repair shops can ``continue to use the most popular and cost-effective method for cleaning car brakes safely without any concern.''
Citing a statement from OSHA, the NBCC said no additional reporting or training requirements will be imposed on shops using aerosol brake cleaners.
Furthermore, the NBCC said the federal agency agreed ``...that the solvent spray method offers smaller employers an effective and inexpensive way to reduce asbestos exposures.''
Back in 1990, OSHA issued a proposed regulation to control asbestos in the brake and clutch repair industry, and identified three methods as ``preferred,'' including the use of solvent sprays.
However, when the rule was published in final form, OSHA had dropped the aerosol cleaners from the preferred list. According to the NBCC, the agency then set a permissible exposure limit for the aerosol products that was so low it constituted a total ban ``because no testing equipment exists today that can measure down that low.''
The coalition-comprising auto industry trade associations, repair shops and chemical makers-took its fight to federal court late last year to block OSHA's ruling, maintaining that the products are safe and effective ``when used as directed.''
The group estimates that more than 50 million cans of the products are used by shops annually. It said the cost to the automotive repair industry to turn to alternative methods-such as vacuuming or a low-pressure wet cleaning bath-would have been from $170 million to $1.5 billion.