OSHA issues hexavalent chromium guidance for small businesses


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration Monday issued safety and health guidance to help small businesses comply with the Agency's new hexavalent chromium requirements for general industry, construction and shipyards.

"This new resource is aimed at helping small businesses comply with the new standards, while helping them reduce the risk to employees potentially exposed to these compounds," said OSHA administrator Edwin Foulke.

The guide describes the steps that employers are required to take to protect employees from hazards associated with exposure to hexavalent chromium. It is divided into sections that address the major provisions of the standards, and it follows the same organization as the corresponding paragraph of the standards. However, the guide provides more detail than the standards to help employers better understand the requirements.

Permissible Exposure Limits, exposure determination, regulated areas, methods of compliance, respiratory protection, protective work clothing and equipment, hygiene areas and practices, housekeeping, and medical surveillance are the major topics included in the guide.

Hexavalent chromium compounds are widely used in the chemical industry as ingredients and catalysts in pigments, metal plating and chemical synthesis. It can also be produced when welding on stainless steel or hexavalent chromium-painted surfaces. The major health effects associated with exposure to hexavalent chromium include lung cancer, nasal septum ulcerations and perforations, skin ulcerations, and allergic and irritant contact dermatitis.

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