OSHA Publishes Rules Governing Exposure to Hex Chrome

oshaLogoThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published a final standard for exposure to hexavalent chromium (hex chrome). The standard covers occupational exposure to hex chrome.

“OSHA has worked hard to produce a final standard that substantially reduces the significant health risks for employees exposed to hexavalent chromium. Our new standard protects workers to the extent feasible, while providing employers, especially small employers, adequate time to transition to the new requirements,” said Jonathan L. Snare, acting assistant secretary for occupational safety and health.

Hexavalent Chromium: What It Is
Hexavalent Chromium Cr(VI) is a metal particle that can occur naturally in rocks but is most commonly produced by industrial process. It has the ability to gain electrons from other elements (a strong oxidizer), which means it can react easily with them. Because of its ability to react with other elements, it can produce hard coatings, which is why it is used in paints for cars, boats and airplanes. This property is also what makes hexavalent chromium a health hazard. Hexavalent chromium is often referred to as Hex Chrom, Hex Chrome, Chromium 6, HexaChrom, Cr(VI), HexChrome, etc.

OSHA Standard Overview
On February 28, 2006, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published the final Hexavalent Chromium Cr(VI) Standard. The new permissible exposure limit (PEL) for Cr(VI) is 5µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter). There are three standards for different industries: General Industry, Construction, and Shipyards. The respiratory protection requirements for the three standards are similar. A respiratory protection program, including respirator selection, is required to follow OSHA 1910.134.

Main Industries and Applications Affected
The primary industries affected, according to OSHA, are Stainless Steel Fabrication, Heavy Duty Coatings and Paints (Automobile, Train Car, Airplane, Boats, Ships), electroplating and producers of chrome-based pigments. Welding (especially on stainless steel), spraying heavy-duty coatings and paints, and chrome plating are the primary applications affected.

Monoxivent products providing capture of hex chrome include:
Portable (PHS/HEPA) Welding Arms, 15000 Series Arms, MNX Collectors with HEPA After Filter

OSHA Fact Sheet (PDF) for Hex Chrome: click here

Additional detailed information is available at www.osha.gov