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CONTAMINANT: New OSHA Standard on Hexavalent Chromium [Cr(VI)]
ORIGIN: Moldex® Technical Service Department
DATE: Updated November 2006
REVIEWED/UPDATED: JULY 2015
Final Standard on Cr(VI)
OSHA has established three separate standards for Cr(VI) exposure in general industry (29 CFR 1910.1026), shipbuilding (26 CFR 1915.1026), and construction (26 CFR 1926.1126).
- The OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for all three sectors was lowered from 52 to 5 micrograms (µg) of Cr(VI) per cubic meter of air as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA).
- Employers with 20 or more employees must comply with all obligations, except for engineering controls, by November 27, 2006.
- Employers with 19 or fewer employees must comply with all obligations, except for engineering controls, by May 30, 2007. Note the date to comply is 2007.
- For all employers, engineering controls shall be implemented no later than May 31, 2010.
These three standards provide provisions for
- Exposure determination
- Methods of compliance
- Respiratory protection
- Protective work clothing and equipment
- Hygiene areas and practices
- Medical surveillance
- Communication of Cr(VI) hazards to employees
- Compliance dates
- Regulated areas and housekeeping (general industry only)
The exposure of Cr(VI) in the painting of aircraft or large aircraft parts is 25 µg per cubic meter or below. The use of respiratory protection shall be used to reduce the exposure to the PEL.
Areas outside the scope of the standard for all three standards
- Exposures that occur in the application of pesticides regulated by the EPA or another
- Federal government agency (e.g., the treatment of wood with preservatives)
- Exposures to portland cement
- Where the employer has objective data demonstrating that exposure is below 0.5 µg per cubic meter as an 8-hour TWA under any expected conditions of use
The employer shall not rotate employees to different jobs to achieve compliance with PEL, which has been allowed in previous OSHA health standards such as formaldehyde and lead.
The rules and provisions for general industry, construction, and shipbuilding are similar, despite the need for three standards.
Compliance with Respiratory Protection
According to the standard, respiratory protection shall be provided by the employer for employees during:
- Periods necessary to install or implement engineering and work practice controls
- Work operations for which engineering and work practice controls are not feasible
- Work operations for which an employer has implemented all feasible engineering and work practice controls and such controls are not sufficient to reduce exposures to or below the PEL
- Work operations where employees are exposed above the PEL for fewer than 30 days per year, and the employer has elected not to implement engineering controls
When respirator use is required, the employer shall institute a respiratory protection program in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.134.
- Moldex® offers a complete line of disposable and half mask respirators (N95, R95, N100, and P100) for protection from Cr(VI) (up to 10x the PEL or 50 µg per cubic meter as an 8-hour TWA).
- Moldex® can also assist you with setting up a respiratory protection program in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.134, which covers many of the additional provisions mentioned above in the “Key Points.”
- Respirators are especially important in the aerospace industry, which is not required to engineer the exposure level to the PEL or below. They may use respirators to get below the PEL instead.
Most Likely Environments for Exposure to Cr(VI)
- Welding on stainless steel or Cr(VI) painted surfaces
- Chemical industry [Cr(VI) is used as a catalyst in pigments, metal plating, and chemical synthesis]
- Other surface coating processes
- Manufacture of stainless steel
- Other general industry
- Aerospace painting operations
If you should have any questions on any of these issues, please contact the Technical Service Department at 800-421-0668 x 512/550.
WARNING: The information contained in this Tech Brief is dated and was accurate to the best of Moldex's knowledge, on the date above. It is not meant to be comprehensive, nor is it intended to be used in place of the warning/use instructions that accompany Moldex respirators. Outside of the USA, check with all applicable and local government regulations.
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