OSHA Amends Standards for Occupational Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is amending the existing standard 29 CFR Parts 1910, 1915, 1917, 1918, and 1926 which limits occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)).

OSHA has determined based upon the best evidence currently available that at the current permissible exposure limit (PEL) for Cr(VI), workers face a significant risk to material impairment of their health. The evidence in the record for this rulemaking indicates that workers exposed to Cr(VI) are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer. The record also indicates that occupational exposure to Cr(VI) may result in asthma, and damage to the nasal epithelia and skin.

The final rule establishes an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) exposure limit of 5 micrograms of Cr(VI) per cubic meter of air (5 μg/m3). This is a considerable reduction from the previous PEL of 1 milligram per 10 cubic meters of air (1 mg/10 m3, or 100 μg/m3) reported as CrO3, which is equivalent to a limit of 52 μg/m3 as Cr(VI).

The final rule also contains additional provisions for worker protection such as requirements for exposure determination, preferred exposure control methods, including a compliance alternative for a small sector for which the new PEL is infeasible, respiratory protection, protective clothing and equipment, hygiene areas and practices, medical surveillance, recordkeeping, and start-up dates that include four years for the implementation of engineering controls to meet the PEL.

The final standard separately regulates general industry, construction, and shipyards in order to tailor requirements to the unique circumstances found in each of these sectors.

This final rule becomes effective on May 30, 2006. Start-up dates for specific provisions are set in 1910.1026(n) for general industry; 1915.1026(l) for shipyards; and 1926.1126(l) for construction. However, affected parties do not have to comply with the information collection requirements in the final rule until the Department of Labor publishes in the Federal Register the control numbers assigned by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Click Federal Register to see the February 28th Posting and Notice in the Federal Resister.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Mr. Kevin Ropp, Director, OSHA Office of Communications
U.S. Department of Labor
Room N–3647
200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210
Telephone (202) 693–1999.