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December 27, 2004 7:41 AM CST

OSHA Proposes Revised Rule on Hexavalent Chromium


The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium in the Oct. 4, 2004, Federal Register. OSHA is proposing three separate standards that cover exposure to hexavalent chromium (CrVI) in general industry, construction and shipyards. The agency is accepting public comments on the proposed standards until Jan. 3, 2005.

"The risks involved in the occupational use of hexavalent chromium can be serious and potentially life-threatening," says OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "This proposed rule is both economically and technologically feasible, and will substantially reduce the risk to workers potentially exposed to hexavalent chromium."

OSHA is proposing to lower its permissible exposure limit (PEL) for hexavalent chromium and for all CrVI compounds in construction, shipyards and general industry from 52 to one microgram of CrVI per cubic meter of air as an eight-hour time weighted average. The proposed rule also includes provisions for employee protection such as preferred methods for controlling exposure, respiratory protection, protective work clothing and equipment, hygiene areas and practices, medical surveillance, hazard communication and recordkeeping.

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

Comments, whether submitted by mail, fax or electronically, must be sent by Jan. 3, 2005. Three copies of written comments must be sent to the Docket Office, Docket H054A, Room N-2625, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 20210. Comments of 10 pages or fewer can be faxed to the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 693-1648. Comments can be submitted electronically at Further information on submitting comments can be obtained by calling the Docket Office at (202) 693-2350.

OSHA plans to hold an informal public hearing in Washington, D.C., beginning on Feb. 1, 2005. The meeting is expected to be held from 9:30 a.m. -5:30 p.m. on each day.

OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit

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Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at


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