Hexavalent Chromium National Emphasis Program
In October 2006 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) passed standards on exposure to hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)). These include an Action Level of 2.5 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) and a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 5 µg/m3. To put those figures into context, the PEL for Cr(VI) is set at one tenth of the PEL for lead. Exposure to Cr(VI) has been linked to significant health effects including: dermatitis and skin ulcers, respiratory tract irritation and sensitization, nasal septum perforation, eye injuries, liver and kidney damage, and lung cancer.
OSHA inspections have revealed that not all employers are in compliance with
the standards established and this has resulted in numerous serious and willful
violations being issued. In response, OSHA issued a directive effective on February
23, 2010 establishing a national emphasis program (NEP)
"...to identify and reduce or eliminate the health hazards associated with occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium and other toxic substances often found in conjunction with hexavalent chromium."
What industries are being targeted under OSHA's NEP for Cr(VI)?
- Electroplating Operations
- Shipyard and Maritime Operations
- Foundries, Steel Mills and Other Molten Metal Handling Operations
- Construction and Maintenance Activities Including:
- Welding and Thermal Cutting
- Grinding and Surface Preparation
- Abrasive Blasting
How do I know if my operations are covered by the OSHA Standards on Cr(VI)?
Common Metal Alloys Containing Cr(VI):
- 300, 400, and 900 Series Stainless Steel Alloys
- P91 Heat Resistant Steel Alloy
- Inconel and Other Specialty Alloys Used in Chemical and Petroleum Processing.
Many paint pigments contain chromium compounds as well, especially yellows and greens. Abrasive blasting and other surface preparation can result in exposures.
Bear in mind, being cited by OSHA for a violation of its Standards is only a portion of the risk incurred by an operation lacking a robust program for managing exposure to Cr(VI). Civil litigation can result in astronomical losses. Let Turnstone establish or improve your Hexavalent Chromium Exposure Control Policy and manage the risk for you. Please contact us today for a free consultation!