OSHA Issues Enforcement Guidelines for Hex Chrome Standards

OSHA issued a new compliance directive for occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium, or Cr(VI), to provide enforcement guidance for its final hexavalent chromium rule.

According to the document, OSHA Instruction CPL 02-02-074, Inspection Procedures for the Chromium (VI) Standards, “guidance to compliance staff is necessary” to effectively enforce safety and health standards.

Highlights of the new directive include:

  • Procedures for reviewing an employer's air sampling records to determine exposure levels.
  • Guidance for employers to implement effective engineering and work practice controls to reduce and maintain exposure below approved permissible exposure limits.
  • Requirements for employers to provide hygiene areas to minimize employees' exposure to hexavalent chromium.
  • Guidelines requiring employers to maintain exposure and medical surveillance records.
  • A requirement that obliges compliance safety and health officers to evaluate portland cement wherever it is being used.

“OSHA anticipates these efforts will reduce the risks of exposure to Cr(VI), thereby improving the safety and health of employees affected by this hazard,” stated OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor Edwin Foulke Jr.

On Feb. 28, 2006, OSHA issued three standards for hexavalent chromium applicable to general industry, construction and shipyards, which became effective on May 30, 2006.

The standards lower the permissible exposure limit for hexavalent chromium to 5 micrograms per cubic meter of air as an 8-hour time-weighted average. Cr(VI) compounds regularly are used in the chemical industry in pigments, metal plating and chemical synthesis.

Significant health effects associated with hexavalent chromium exposure include lung cancer, nasal septum ulcerations and perforations, skin ulcerations and allergic and irritant contact dermatitis.

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