Hexavalent Chromium Requirements in the Workplace
Clark Seif Clark conducts industrial hygiene surveys for occupational exposures to airborne contaminants and provides employer compliance consulting services.
Exposures can be controlled through exhaust ventilation, good work practices and personal protective equipment.
If a company works with chromium containing materials such as stainless steel, conducts chemical film or plating operations involving hexavalent chromium (Cr+6) or spray paints with products containing Cr+6, it is required by state and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administrations (OSHAs) to take specific actions.
As stated in a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “Workplace Safety & Health Topics” article on Hexavalent Chromium, these compounds are a large group of chemicals with varying chemical properties, uses, and workplace exposures. Their properties include corrosion-resistance, durability and hardness. Workers may be exposed to airborne Cr+6 when these compounds are manufactured from other forms of chromium (e.g., the production of chromates from chromite ore); when products containing Cr+6 are used to manufacture other products (e.g., chromate-containing paints, electroplating); or when products containing other forms of chromium are used in processes that result in the formation of Cr+6 as a by-product (e.g., welding).
Cr+6 has long been established as a cancer causing material and it is very tightly regulated by OSHA. Although there are some differences in the permissible exposure levels (PELs) and Action Levels (ALs) among the state and federal OSHA regulations, all OSHA jurisdictions require the following if a company has operations that could release Cr+6:
- Employers must conduct initial personal air monitoring that is representative of exposures to all personnel involved in the operation in question,
- Depending on results, monitoring may have to be repeated quarterly (if the PEL is exceeded), semiannually (if the AL is exceeded) or, regardless of the sampling results, sampling has to be repeated whenever there is a change in the operation,
- Employees must be notified of the results (i.e. within 5 days of receipt of the results),
- Employees whose exposures exceed the PEL or the AL must undergo periodic medical surveillance,
- There are other requirements such as sanitation, restricted areas and employee right to medical and exposure records.
“Exposures can be controlled through exhaust ventilation, good work practices and personal protective equipment,” said William Jones, CIH, CSP, CPE and Vice President of Industrial Hygiene at Clark Seif Clark. “Even better, if a substitute product that does not contain Cr+6 can be used, personnel can be protected. Clark Seif Clark’s experienced industrial hygienists can conduct air sampling, surface contamination (wipe) sampling, exhaust ventilation evaluations, make personal protective equipment evaluations, help write Cr+6 compliance plans and even assist with written employee notifications.”
To learn more about this or other occupational, property damage, indoor air quality, environmental, health and safety testing services, please visit www.csceng.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 807-1118.
About Clark Seif Clark
CSC was established in 1989 to help clients in both public and private sectors address environmental, IAQ, and health and safety (EH&S) issues. CSC is a leading provider of these services with multiple offices along the western seaboard and southwest. The company believes in science-based protocols and has a strong background in engineering, making them the preferred environmental consultants to industrial clients, healthcare facilities, architects, schools, builders, contractors, developers and real estate professionals.
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