OSHA Hexavalent Chromium Standard
On February 28, 2006, the OSHA Final Rule was announced concerning occupational exposures to Hexavalent Chromium (CrVI). With exceptions for selected exposure groups (pesticides regulated by the EPA or operations whose only CrVI exposure is from Portland Cement) all General Industry, Shipyards and Construction operations are covered and expected to comply with applicable provisions by the published dates.
Similar to other available substance-specific Health standards, such as Lead, Cadmium or Formaldehyde, the CrVI standard establishes a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) at 5 micrograms per cubic meter (5 µg/m3) with a 2.5 µg/m3 medical Action Level. Affected employers must evaluate exposures, use existing data collected prior to May 30, 2006 or use objective data to determine the need for additional controls. Depending upon the airborne concentration of CrVI present, additional monitoring is required quarterly if exposures exceed the PEL or semi-annually if exposures exceed the medical Action Level. Periodic monitoring may be discontinued when two samples, taken at least 7-days apart, indicate exposures at a lower level. Affected employees must be notified of monitoring results within 15 days when exposures exceed the PEL.
A number of ancillary controls are required depending upon the level of exposure. Those controls include work practice, engineering or personal protective equipment controls. Job rotation is specifically prohibited to comply with the CrVI standard.
For employees with 20 or more employees, all obligations except engineering controls commence November 27, 2006. Employers with 19 or fewer employees have until May 30, 2007 to comply with all obligations except engineering controls. Engineering controls must be in place no later than May 31, 2010.
For the complete text of the OSHA CrVI standard, please visit www.osha.gov. If you would like additional information or compliance assistance with provisions of the CrVI standard, please contact me for a confidential discussion of your needs.