OSHA Issues Hexavalent Chromium Guidance for Small Businesses

OSHA on Oct. 2 issued safety and health guidance to help small businesses comply with the agency's new hexavalent chromium (Cr[VI]) requirements for general industry, construction and shipyards.

The guide describes the steps that employers are required to take to protect employees from hazards associated with exposure to Cr(VI). It is divided into sections that address the major provisions of the standards, and follows the same organization as the corresponding paragraph of the standards.

To help employers better understand the requirements, the guide provides more detail than the standards, according to OSHA.

Among the major topics covered in the guide are:

  • Permissible exposure limits (PEL);
  • Exposure determination;
  • Regulated areas;
  • Methods of compliance;
  • Respiratory protection;
  • Protective work clothing and equipment,
  • Hygiene areas and practices,
  • Housekeeping; and
  • Medical surveillance.

Hexavalent chromium compounds are widely used in the chemical industry as ingredients and catalysts in pigments, metal plating and chemical synthesis. 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, nasal septum ulcerations and perforations, skin ulcerations and allergic and irritant contact dermatitis.

"This new resource is aimed at helping small businesses comply with the new standards, while helping them reduce the risk to employees potentially exposed to these compounds," OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke Jr. said.

The guide is available on OSHA's Web site.

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