OSHA Schedules Public Hearings on Hexavalent Chromium

OSHA will hold public hearings in Washington, D.C., to discuss the agency's proposed rulemaking for occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium. The hearings will begin on Feb. 1 and are expected to run through Feb. 17.

The public hearings will be held in the auditorium of the U.S. Department of Labor's Frances Perkins Building, which is located at 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. The hearings will begin each day at 9:30 a.m.

OSHA is proposing to lower its permissible exposure limit (PEL) for hexavalent chromium and for all Cr(VI) compounds in construction, shipyards and general industry from 52 to 1 microgram of Cr(VI) per cubic meter of air (1 µg/m3) as an 8-hour time weighted average. The proposed rule also includes provisions for employee protection such as preferred methods for controlling exposure; respiratory protection; protective work clothing and equipment; hygiene areas and practices; medical surveillance; hazard communication; and recordkeeping.

Hexavalent chromium Cr(VI) compounds are widely used in the chemical industry in pigments, metal plating and chemical synthesis as ingredients and catalysts. Cr(VI) also can be produced when welding on stainless steel or Cr(VI)-painted surfaces. The major health effects associated with exposure to Cr(VI) include lung cancer; asthma; nasal septum ulcerations and perforations; skin ulcerations (or chrome holes); and allergic and irritant contact dermatitis.

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